Chirp, chirp

Uinta Ground Squirrel_Ogden-UT_LAH_9626Chirp, chirp! Chirp, chirp, chirp! We had stopped to stretch our legs at a roadside rest near Ogden, Utah, so of course I pulled out my binoculars to look for birds. Walking the short path to a scenic overlook, I kept hearing this loud chirping, but I couldn’t find any birds I could ascribe it too. There were the usual American Robins, American Crows, and Black-billed Magpies—but none of those chirp.

There were also these adorable little ground squirrels. They would boldly emerge from their tunnels (reminiscent of prairie dog towns), obviously hoping for handouts, and… wait—were they chirping at me? They were! Guess I wasn’t going to find an exotic bird, but I did get some cute photos. Continue reading “Chirp, chirp”

IPM: Pest-eating Vertebrates, Part 1

Eastern Collared Lizard_DesertMuseum-AZ_LAH_4796Here it is the middle of winter, and garden pests are out of sight and out of mind. Yet, we know that those critters are out there, waiting for warm weather to bring out the first sprouts of spring—just so they can gobble them up! It’s a very good thing, then, that there are other creatures biding their time, waiting to eat those garden pests! I’ve already talked about bug-eating invertebrates. This time I’ll focus on those animals with some backbone, so to speak. Being biologically minded, I’ve sorted these helpful vertebrates by which taxonomic class they belong to.

Amphibians
Toad_ColoNat'lMon-CO_LAH_3622One of the most helpful animals to welcome into your garden is a toad. Like frogs and salamanders, their close relatives, toads eat tons of bugs, and they don’t need a pond to live in. Experts say they eat up to 100 bugs every day, and while they don’t discriminate between “good” bugs and bad ones (they’ll nab anything that moves), it’s nice to see cutworms, grasshoppers, flies, and slugs disappearing into their wide jaws.

Continue reading “IPM: Pest-eating Vertebrates, Part 1”