Category Archives: Nature

Close up shot of young leaves of tea plant

Backyard Wildlife College Newsletter 2:1 (2019)

“More than just fluffy bunnies”

(Backyard Wildlife College, Allentown PA, est. 2017)

Infrastructure improvements at Backyard Wildlife College

On Friday evening, we arranged for some improvements to the infrastructure of the College.

With the fear of frosty mornings a few weeks behind us, the little patio was repopulated with its usual sojourners: a small selection of herbs, a couple of succulents, and a growing collection of carnivorous plants.

We opted for an experiment in full soil growth, with a random mix of herbs and flowers, including some rescues.

1. Petunia. A freebie that was table decoration during an open house at Muhlenberg College, rescued from oblivion at the end of the session.

Small petunia in full soil

Petunia

2. Lemon Bee Balm: useful for all sorts of things apparently, but let’s first see if it grows and provides some flowers for the bees and bumbles on the BWC campus. Continue reading

Creepy Crawlies: Survival tips if you’re caught indoors

To: Creepy Crawlies

From: InInEx Club (Intrepid Indoor Explorers)  (motto: “Because it’s there!”)

Safety tips for indoor explorers

A small team of our intrepid insect and arachnid explorers has been exploring the indoors area of the human dwelling. They have, at risk of life and limb (mainly life), assessed the dangers and possibilities for successfully surviving an indoor encounter in flat Nr. 1. Thanks to the courageous behaviour of these heroic crawlies, we now have a much better understanding of the situation indoors and can offer some advice on how you stand a chance to get out of there alive. We await further news on the other flats in the dwelling and will update you as soon as we can.

What we know: Continue reading

Newsletter 2 from Backyard Wildlife College

“More than just fluffy bunnies”

(Backyard Wildlife College, Allentown PA, est. 2017)

Newsletter 2 (July 2018)

Hello all, and welcome to newsletter 2!

The College has lots of exciting news about new arrivals spotted on campus!

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Ms. (or Mr.?) Fox was seen walking through the back alley about a week ago, and again a week later running across campus pursued by the Crow Airforce Acrobatic Team. The College has not received further news about Fox’s intention to join the Division of Furry Creatures, but we are open for negotiation. We realize that increasing species diversity may bring tensions, in particular when carnivores join the faculty or will serve in functions already occupied by current members, but as our motto makes abundantly clear, we are not in the business of enhancing the “fluffy bunny view” of nature.

Speaking of fluffy bunnies, a Visiting Assistant Rabbit has been appointed! Following several early morning campus visits, Continue reading

Note to Creepy Crawlies Division

To: Creepy Crawly Creatures Day and Evening Schools

From: Council of Fauna, Allentown Backyard Wildlife College (BWC)

Concerning your relations with humans:

The College kindly but urgently requests you to stop trespassing on human property, and in particular in the kitchen of flat Nr. 1, where ants have been found holding foraging labs. The team leaders have been notified that the nuclear option is on the countertop and fully deployed. Members of the Ants Department should refrain from seeking entrance, for their own safety and that of their colonies. We remind you that the College does not offer an “Indoor Ants” programme, and it never will.

Furthermore, there has been a request from the College’s human benefactors for the Mosquito Aerial Programme’s buzz training and target landing trials to take place away from the college perimeter where it meets the human dwelling. Other targets for practice are available elsewhere.

While we all appreciate the Creepy Crawlies Division is numerically the largest and among the oldest parts of any BWC, and that Allentown is the new home of the brown marmorated stink bug, that should not give the Crawlies license to display such inconsiderate behavior towards others. It sours the relations with the off-campus community and gives the entire College a bad name, and destroys the hard work from Furry and Feathered Creatures in community engagement.

rabbit

Professor Bunny captured here in the glamour role of Most Favoured Furry.

The arachnids should under no circumstances enter the human dwelling. There is a zero-tolerance policy because it is apparently impossible to tell which of you might be poisonous. We have been reliably informed that every single one of you found inside will be eliminated. Even though everyone at the College knows that none of you are dangerous to humans, we regret that no amount of education seems to help with this case of rabid arachnophobia.

firefly on a book

A firefly taking part in the “Lighten up” action, providing much needed reading light to members of the off-campus community.

In more upbeat news, participants in the “Outside Ants” program and “Drawn to the Light: Night-time Flight Navigation” course have been commended for their non-intrusive behavior with the human visitors to campus, and in refraining from entering the human dwelling even when the backdoor opens (with the exception of a couple of bamboozled fireflies). The College hopes that other programs and departments of the Creepy Crawlies Division will follow their example.

Newsletter from Backyard Wildlife College

“More than just fluffy bunnies”

(Backyard Wildlife College, Allentown PA, est. 2017)

Newsletter June 2018

Hello all, and welcome to the first newsletter of the Backyard Wildlife College!

As some of you may know from Twitter announcements, Backyard Wildlife College (BWC) is in the process of hiring a new Visiting Assistant Rabbit following the disappearance of the colleague of Professor Bunny. This position may be converted into a tenured one if the new partnership succeeds in attracting funding for the creation of postdoctoral positions for baby rabbits.

rabbit lying on the lawn

Professor Bunny enjoying a spot of sunshine

While it is impossible to get a grip on the current number of faculty in the Squirrel Department, the College is fairly confident that shortly there will be a number of postdoc positions added there, too, Continue reading

Mysterious events in the Backyard

I was all ready to publish the first newsletter from Backyard Wildlife College, but that is now pushed aside by the breaking news from this morning: mysterious massacre of multiple members of the Creepy Crawlies Division and vandalization of College infrastructure. This morning, it was discovered that the largest pitcher of the carnivorous Nepenthes (Sanguinea) plant has been destroyed, its contents dropped to the floor.

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Pitcher of Nepenthes plant destroyed…

Upon closer inspection, the mystery deepened, with several ants and one arachnid left dead on the leaves.

Victims of the events found on the plant; detailed picture of spider and ant on the left available on request.

The Backyard Wildlife College welcomes any information that may help shed light on these mysterious events.

The “Outdoor Ants” Program is continuing as usual; the Arachnid Department is rescheduling some classes and will be in touch with its students about these changes. The newsletter will be released in the coming week.

Bzzz

The sound of summer? Bumblebees buzzing about! I took some video with my iPhone, which does not have a great microphone for this. You may have to imagine them buzzing. Tips for good video equipment for filming bumbles in the comments please! Click on the picture to go to my Flickr site and watch the video there.

Het  geluid van de zomer? Hommels die rondzoemen! Deze beelden zijn met mijn iPhone gemaakt, en die heeft geen geschikte microfoon. Misschien moet je het gezoem er dan maar zelf bij denken. Tips voor een degelijke video camera voor het filmen van hommels graag in de opmerkingen! Klik op de foto om naar de Flickr webstek te gaan en bekijk de video daar.

bumblebees

Flowers from my mum’s garden, bees courtesy of mother nature.
Planten uit de tuin van mama, bijtjes geleverd door moeder natuur.