Oh… Ontario Wildlife… we have so many options eh? One can travel up north to see moose and bear, or down south to watch the birds mitigating in from the states at Point Pelee. I can drive down to Grand Bend in the spring to watch the snow geese come in, or head down to the local park to watch the local Canada Geese and mallards. But one of the things I love about where I live is my humungous backyard. I have the joy of watching Ontario wildlife in our backyard. I have the double joy of sharing this with my teenage son. He’s not always so delighted when he gets to see some of this nature up close and personal as he helps me transport it elsewhere….
The other day my son and I were out gardening when suddenly I yelled “wow, that’s the biggest wolf spider I have ever seen!”. The lad came running over as fast as he could. He was delighted. My lad loves spiders and has kept a number of them over the years. The largest wold spider we’ve seen in the past was perhaps an inch all around, this one was big and fat and had to be almost two inches around. FAST! We wanted to save it since why kill something that is helpful outside? Ergo, the lad captured it and moved it to our woodpile. I wish I could have gotten a picture, but a fast-moving spider and a camera in my pocket isn’t a good combination.
Critters can be found everywhere if you look for them. Gardening, mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, feeding the rabbits, hanging the laundry, or just sitting under a tree. A spider can suddenly appear right in front of you… sending you skittering far away! 🙂 Or a vole can be found nibbling a discovered snack.
All you need to do is keep your eyes open, and your ears listening. Who knows what you might discover? This spring I’ve been serenaded by toads, been surprised by skittering feet on the rabbitry roof, and been delighted by the warning buzz of a bumblebee.
Now mind you, there are critters I like to see… voles, insects, toads…. LOVE having toads, frogs, water bugs, spiders… in places I am not! But there are also varmints! I don’t much care for varmints, and I’d rather not be overladen with flying pests like yellow jackets, flies, and mosquitos. It is so much fun when I clean out the rabbitry and discover insects I’ve never seen before: whiptails, and yellow centipedes that are so tiny, and jumping spiders of all sorts. I don’t want them ON me, but it’s fun to observe creation don’t you think? Even with the varmints…to see their colour, observe their movement, note curiousities about them. It’s good to really see the world around us.
Critters I’d rather not have….
This spring we have had a number of unwanted Ontario Wildlife in our backyard. Unwanted for a variety of reasons. I really dislike some of these varmints in the rabbitry.
- Rats… cause they foul EVERYTHING, such filthy beasts, and they’ll damage the rabbits.
- Skunks…cause they can be stink buckets! Though last year we had a polite skunk who I didn’t mind having around. I’d announce my arrival, it would disappear under the rabbit cages until I was gone, and then come out again. This year’s batch were less-than-polite so out they went!
- Opossums… scary bad damage to rabbits they can do. They usually just pass through, but if I can encourage them on their way, I am more than happy to do so.
- Raccoons… HORRIBLE critters when it comes to rabbits. The damage they can do makes me so very angry. I so heartedly have learned to dislike them around rabbits because of how they damage them.
- Stray cats…. stinky messy animals. Why do stray tom cats like our backyard? I DUNNO. But I don’t need them peeing on my fence posts, messing up my hay, or leaving poop in my yard. YUCK. Not real fond of half-eaten corpses laying around either. The positive thing is they do help reduce the rat population.
My son has learned how to transport most of these critters away from here. He’s had to learn what time of day is best to move them, how far away to take them, and how to get them out of the trap without negative consequences. Being able to observe them up close and note their different features has been instructional. Skunks by the by, you cover them with a tarp and keep it between you and them the WHOLE time. They don’t see you, they don’t spray you. Important life skills for a lad to learn.
Science at home
My teen was also able to help in an experiment. What will catch more rats… a live trap or a snap trap? We were curious what will draw them in quicker… Nutella, peanut butter or seeds? This led to a hypothesis, observations, and a conclusion. Biology science in real life. Nutella came out the winner! Thank you to Shawn Woods and Mousetraps Mondays! This is a trap I’d love to own someday. It will have to wait though until I can get to the States sometime.
Critters I don’t mind
The other day I was out on the porch and spotted this swarm of ants. My son, when I told him, asked me a bunch of questions about them. Was it two colonies of ants fighting? Was it a mating swarm? Where they gathered around eating something? I said I don’t know, how would I know? He proceeded to educate me on ants and all the signs of ant colonies fighting and what a mating flight would look like. We determined that they were just out for some unknown reason. The lad knows a lot about ants as he raises them and has built his own formicariums for some of them. The goal… to raise big enough colonies to sell them. 🙂
Every year we have a bumble bee grace our yard. She often nests in old tree stumps or well-rotten wood. This year it took me a while to spot her nest. In a place I totally didn’t expect!
I thought she was nesting in the straw bale and didn’t want to move it until I knew where she was going. Certainly, I didn’t expect her to be in an old nesting box holding extra rabbit fur. Now I won’t dump it until the fall… after I carefully go through it. I’ve never seen a bumblebee nest before. In case you are curious as I am….
More than bumblebees
We are just starting to see a variety of insects. When I was moving the compost the other day it was swarmed by hordes of yellow flies. I told my guys to stay clear as on the farm growing up I learned these things bite! They like damp smelly places and if you bug them, they’ll bite. What the name of them is? I grew up calling them stable flies but when I look up stable flies they don’t look the same. They look a lot like these flies. I did have the lad give them a good look so he learns to avoid them.
I’ve also been seeing centipedes and millipedes, and have already been catching them for our goldfish. The rollypolys are out and about as well. The other day as I was cleaning cages a small black spider spun down in front of me. Aphids are coming out. We’ve been feeding various earthworms to our garter snake.
Our Pond Brings in Critters
I’ve needed to warn the lad when he mows the lawn to mind the toads we have hopping around. We have at least six different ones and I’d hate for them to go through the mower. They catch SO many flies.
Every year we get a frog or two.
Dragonflies will start gracing our yard killing tons of flies and mosquitos, and water striders, water beetles and more. They have to be quick to avoid our ravenous goldfish.
How about you?
So you gotta tell me….. what kind of critters do you find in your backyard? When you holler WOW, what would bring your youngsters running to see? What delights you in the animals you see around your place? Or even what you’d rather not spend time thinking on! 🙂
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