Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

Month: April 2019

Sugar ants aren’t pests – they’re harmless and helpful!

Photo caption: A legion (hah, get it  – not army, but part thereof!) of sugar ants committed mass suicide in my bottle of honey. In honour of those that might resurrect – I can see some of them will – I pooled it in the sink and gave them a chance to extract themselves (sugar ants are resilient to injury). A few less foolhardy brothers and sisters are supping from the edges.

People don’t know what to make of the teeny-tiny ants that march indoors like school children on spring and summer days (when they should be outside!). They can’t be mistaken for carpenter ants. But, like the many other species that aren’t carpenter ants, all searches end up on results about killing them. As if they were as dangerous as carpenter ants. Carpenter ants won’t hurt you, but their infestations are dangerous to your house – they devour wood.  

Common talk, mass media, and the extermination industry has effectively enabled people to think that insects are disgusting and undesirable. We know this is just flat-out wrongheadedness. All it takes to realize that bugs aren’t your enemy is to observe them objectively, and if that isn’t enough, it always helps to do a little research.

Of course, when you try to do some research, you have to get past the “get rid of” them websites. The truth takes lot more digging. So that’s what this blog post is about.

Tapinoma sessile is the name of this kind of ant. Here’s the path I took:

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I found a baby bird in distress. What do I do?

If you’ve been looking up at the tops of the trees, or watching neighbourhood feeders, you’ve noticed the flitting of unfamiliar birds, newly arriving on their spring migration. Or if you’ve been walking around with open ears, you’ve heard the sweet call of the robins and almost-raucous regular trill of the red-winged blackbirds. Spring has arrived and it’s in full swing. And so we must hone our attention on our surroundings (not a hard task!), while for some us, work begins.

The expansion of urban habitat and housing and mirrored buildings means only one thing to birds: imminent danger. There are three things we all need to take responsibility to do for birds, and this message is so old now that NOT doing something about it is delinquent.

(I just found out that free-standing houses cause 50% of bird strike deaths. Big buildings the other 50%. Not 20:80 or something that seems “more reasonable.” Your house and my house is deadly.)

Do what? The Top Three things to do are in an Audubon article (Fall of 2015):

  1. Put decals, tape, strings, or another form of “frit” on your windows – all windows reflecting trees within 5 storeys of the ground! – so that birds can see them and avoid crashing;
  2. Turn off building lights at night, and
  3. SPEAK UP about this to everyone who will listen, but building managers and city councils, especially!

I’ve written about bird crashes and the resources to prevent them before, and it’s also happened to me (this story has a good ending, and it’s instructive on what to do if you have a little window-crasher). One even happened to me last week, though I’m persuaded that the little bird was startled and survived:

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Question: Would you want to countrify your city home?

Folks, you could be anywhere in the world and not have a specific service like mine or local resources to make your urban home have a real, rustic appeal (whether house, townhouse, triplex, or unit in a building) – or so you might imagine.

I just had a new idea and wondered if you would find it useful to have an e-booklet showing you different ideas and approaches to countrifying your city home. Do you want it to appear charming and actually be more rustic, wild, and wildlife-welcoming? If so, please sign up below. I’ll be making a note of whoever supports this idea. If we can generate enough interest, I’ll send you design and content questions along the way. Thanks!

Rewilding is about converting your lawn to groundcover (bit by bit!) to native species. This fosters biodiversity. It also creates habitat for urban wildlife. Finally, you'll only trim it 2-3 times per season rather than every 7-10 days!

The green driveway gallery shows you how you can DIY a driveway conversation using my first model as an example. There are other ways to do it, and things I learned in the process and afterward. Please call me at 514-815-5163 for my landscaping service, or to discuss upgrading your driveway.

The work season is April 1st through June 30th, but I install bird strike prevention (to stop birds from crashing into windows and glass balconies) whenever the temperature is above 5ºC. Call the number above or email. It's important to do this earlier rather than later,  in time for bird migrations in late April to end of May, and late August to mid-October.


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