Posts Tagged ‘tunnels’

Ground Hog Family

The pair of ground hogs moved under the barn early this year. They apparently got there before the foxes, or the foxes had another den and weren’t interested.


This is one of the parents. Maybe it was taking a break from the little ones. It did this at least once a day.

What really gets me is how easily they see me in the computer room. I have to sneak into the chair. My husband says it’s 40 yards from the computer down to where their den is. (From the corner of the barn, to where the wood touches the ground.) Even the little ones see the slightest movement, and they run for the barn as fast as their little legs can go. They’re so close to the ground when they run.


Then one day, I saw a little head, and then another and another. There’s two in this picture and


two in this picture too.


I think I got caught taking this picture.


There’s a lot more to look at.


There’re two of the four young ones in this picture.

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I used to have a pretty good size summer wildflower. It turned to a weed patch with lots of sprouting trees and thorny bushes. Two weeks ago, my husband spent three days cutting out all the dense growth. I plan to sow grass soon.

This young one’s running for one of the tunnels.


The interesting thing was the four underground dens the groundhogs had in the weed patch. The one above was by far the largest. It won’t be long and they’ll be like little lawn mowers in our backyard.

Carpenter Bees

Buffy and I walked a loop around the yard before we went inside. The sun was near setting.


Carpenter bees were busy. I wasn’t sure if were looking for something or doing it.

The barn was built when the original house was here. We’ve lived here forty-plus years, and it was old when we bought the house.

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Carpenter bees are often confused with bumblebees. Both are about the same size. Carpenter bees build their nest in wood, and bumblebees nest underground. Male carpenter bees have a whitish spot on the front of their face, which wasn’t evident in the evening light.

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Carpenter bees are not social insects. They construct their nests in trees or in eaves of a house by drilling in the wood. These are the adults emerging from the nests. They overwintered in tunnels as adults.


 The barn sure has a lot of character. Besides the foxes living under it, a pair of eastern phoebe flycatchers nest in it too.

Leaf Miner

(I’m BACK!!! Finally. It turned out my blog site problem was my browser. I am of the over-60 club and didn’t grow up with computers. They still intimate me on certain things. Anyway, I am celebrating today!!!)


Leaf miner patterns on leaves always fascinate me — how could a “critter” that small even exists?

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The larvae of leaf miners feed on the cells inside the leaf, leaving a “trail” as they go. Feeding in the leaf protects them from predators.

The leaf above is off a lilac bush that I found recently.

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I photographed this cottonwood leaf in August.  If you look close, you can see where a tunnel started in the lower left side of the picture. Then you can follow it as the larva ate and grew. Leaf miners can be larvae of moths, sawfies and flies.

Immature Ladybug Beetles

  I was weeding in one of my the gardens. 

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I lifted a triangular rock, and there was a ladybug nest.  They hurried into the nearest tunnels. Finding a nest was  first for me.

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Back up here! These were ladybugs, but were too small. I ended up on the Enchanted Learning website. During the nymph stage the ladybugs are gray with a segmented body and legs. These were ladybugs in their pupal stage, which lasts 5-7 days. Near the middle on the left is a cavity with a rolypoly in it. It shows just how small these ladybug pupae were. Then right below the rolypoly is a ladybug pupa that for some reason has a white head and thorax.

There wasn’t a ladybug in sight when I checked the next day.


Bark Beetle Designs

Buffy and I walked down into the ravine and crossed the creek on my property. Rain during the night left the water in the creek slightly cloudy. A Carolina chickadee gave its “chick-a-dee-dee-dee call,” and a rufous-sided towhee repeated “wheep.”

The light was right for a change, and I could photograph the bark beetle designs on this log. Bark beetles are 1/8 inch long, and all of them feed on the layer of wood between the bark and trunk of live trees. Usually they pick trees that aren’t the healthiest.

Different bark beetle species create different tunneling patterns. Look closely at the base of all the tunneling to the wider horizontal tunnel (which would have been vertical when the tree was still alive). A female made the tunnel and then laid her eggs in niches along the side. I assumed she probably laid eggs on both sides of the tunnel, but I couldn’t tell for sure because it was on the underside of the log. It may be hard to see in the picture that there are teeny parallel tunnels coming up from the main tunnel. The tunnels grew bigger as the larvae grew. When they matured, each made an enlarged space to pupate in. The adults emerge from their pupal stage in the spring and then bore out through the bark. From there, they fly to new trees and start the cycle again. There can be 1 or 2 broods a year. Long tunnels of the same width are made by adult beetles.

 This second picture shows the tunneling pattern of a different bark beetle species. It better shows how the larvae fed out from the main tunnel. These tunnels weren’t nearly as long  as the ones above. Bark beetles use both deciduous and coniferous trees. These can be found in mature woods with downed trees.

Downed trees, in various degrees of decay, can be quite fascinating.