Category Archives: Did you know?

Did You Know?—Bees get thirsty, too!

Did you know?

Part of my landscaping project for our new home was to create a little pond. Not too big because I prefer plants to ponds, but a little pond does create visual interest to go along with the plants. Shortly after creating my little pond on December 16, 2017, it looked like this:

Pond

A couple of days ago, my little pond looked like this:

I’m a big fan of honeybees. However….

I don’t want a beehive in my yard. But I have never seen a beehive on or under the ground, and certainly not where it can get flooded by waters from a pond.

Not wanting to kill the little bees—after all, my wise old grandmother taught me that all life has a right to live—I stopped by a bee removal business and asked them what was going on and what I could do.

Turns out that honeybees get thirsty, too, and the bees here at my little pond have discovered a great water source out here in the dry boondocks. That knowledge, though, didn’t lead me to any conclusions about what to do other than let my little pond dry up. I wasn’t going to do that. So I have decided to create yet another pond, but this one will be out in my Wildlife Corner where, currently, the squirrels and rabbits are fighting it out for supremacy.

It's 4-2, squirrels over rabbits

The block wall already is gone and in about 15 hours I will have a little pond there.

I asked the bee guy about the bees that tend to get into the water and drown. I couldn’t figure out why bees would practice self-drowning. He said that those bees came the farthest and were so excited about finding a water source that they went swimming, forgetting that they didn’t know how to swim. Ooopsy.

More seriously, they didn’t have the energy left to get out of the water if they fell in, and they didn’t have enough energy left to keep their balance and not fall in. With that knowledge, the new pond in Wildlife Corner will have lots of shallow areas, beaches, and rocks where they can rest, or crawl out of the water if they fall in.

Once I have the new pond in Wildlife Corner, I will help the bees find it. The way to do that is to put some fresh fruit—pears and mangos are best—in a little bag, put the bag about 20 feet from the pond, and in a couple of days all the bees will move to the fruit. I have about 60 feet between front pond and Wildlife Corner pond, so it will take me a couple of weeks to get these bees moved to the Wildlife Corner pond. I feel like a little kid in first grade doing his first experiment. Will this work? I don’t know. Everything on the Internet indicates that it will. I’m cautiously optimistic.

So, did you know that bees actually get thirsty, too! I figured they got all their liquid sustenance from flowers, but in thinking about that more logically, that doesn’t make much sense. Hmmmm. Sixty years, 10 months, and 15 days on this Earth, and I’m still learning stuff….

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Advertisements

Did you know?—Ombrohydrochory

Did you know?

This is a little teeny tiny seed pod—about ¼” in diameter—of Glottiphyllum linguiforme taken with my Tamron 90mm Macro lens:

Glottiphyllum linguiforme seed pod

The seed pod releases its seeds via ombrohydrochory, a special form of hydrochory where the seeds are propelled by the action of rain falling on the plant.

Ombrohydrochory occurs primarily in very wet habitats and in very dry habitats and deserts where rain is sporadic but often heavy.

When the seed pod gets wet, it swells, shooting the seeds out like a jet leaving an aircraft carrier.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Did You Know?—Controlling ants, snails, slugs, and gnats

Did you know?

When my wise old grandmother got sick the first time and had to spend some time in the hospital, she thought she was going to die. She was making peace with everyone and asked me if I had anything on my mind. I did. I wanted to know why she never had problems with ants, snails, and slugs in her garden. Her answer was mulch. Very fine mulch. I use Earthgro Decorative  Groundcover Bark:

Earthgro decorative groundcover bark

Note that the description says, “A very fine-textured mulch.” This stuff also comes in larger sizes. Don’t use them for ant/snail/slug prevention purposes. Only the very fine-textured stuff. Ants don’t like crawling around on this stuff and will make a trail around it. I use it to keep ants in the garden and out of my house. Snails and slugs don’t like it because the stuff cuts their little tummies.

A problem that I always have had with my interior plants is a problem that I did not ask my wise old grandmother about. Gnats. She had so many plants inside yet never had a problem with gnats. A couple of days ago I found out why I have such a problem with gnats. Mulch & Sphagnum moss.

I don’t like the appearance of bare soil in my planters inside so I have always put mulch and sphagnum moss on the top of the soil. Wrong thing to do. Gnats love to get between the soil and the mulch or moss and set up little communities. I think the only creature that breeds more than rabbits is the gnat.

I now have experiential evidence that mulch and moss, indeed, were the culprits. My planters that had mulch and moss were full of gnats. The planters that I recently had planted flora in and had only bare soil did not. But bare soil inside still looks bad. Enter decorative pebbles and rocks, what the cactus & succulent society calls “top dressing.” Turns out that the little gnats can’t get between the heavy pebbles and rocks to set up little communities beneath them.

After dealing with hundreds of gnats each day after moving into our new home, on Friday I replaced all the mulch and moss in all my interior planters with decorative pebbles and rocks. Here are a few pictures:

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

The result? One gnat, and that was about 9:00 Saturday morning. The average lifespan of a gnat is seven days, and the maximum lifespan thirty days. I used insecticidal soap on the top of the soil before apply the top dressing, so between that and the top dressing, I’m not expecting to see any more gnats in our home. Yahoooooooooooooooo!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Did You Know?—Euphorbia, Datura & Brugmansia

Did you know?

When I was living with my wise old grandmother from 1965-1973, one of my “chores around the house” was pruning the billions and billions and billions of oleanders forming a fence around our property. I hated those things (which is why I have never had oleanders on any of my properties) because I was severely sensitive to oleander sap. I quickly learned to wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and gloves when pruning those blasted things. Hmmm. Deep south Texas and a teenager working outside with long shirts and long pants. Hated it.

Another plant that I am overly sensitive to is actually a plant genus: Euphorbia. Some of you might know that the common Christmas poinsettia is a Euphorbia, Euphorbia pulcherrima. Poinsettias grow year-round here in San Diego and can get about 20 feet tall, making a beautiful statement at Christmas time when they bloom.

Poinsettia

Another common plant around our homes is the “Crown of Thorns,” Euphorbia millii.

Crown of Thorns

My wise old grandmother also had poinsettias and crowns of thorns, both planted along the driveway. Well, guess where this tall, skinny dude had his basketball court? Inevitably a missed basket would result in the ball bouncing over to the poinsettias and crowns of thorns, and breaking branches, getting sticky sap all over my basketball. Poinsettias and crowns of thorns were also on my “Never in my own yard” list. Because poinsettias and crowns of thorns are succulents, though, I have had them in my home and on my property simply because I plant them out of the way and forget about them. They can survive on the water that Mother & Father Nature provide them, and since they are out of the way, I don’t have to prune them. The Crown of Thorns picture above is from one of my past gardens.

When I arrived in San Diego in April 1993 and started exploring, I found a plant that grows wild, is very beautiful, and has a heavenly scent, especially at dusk: Datura.

Datura

Datura

I never saw Datura in a nursery, though. Eventually I found out why. It is very poisonous, especially their flowers and seeds, and people like me can develop a severe skin rash when the milky white sap gets on our skin. Their common name is Devil’s Trumpet.

Related to Datura is a plant that IS found in nurseries although it is just as poisonous: Brugmansia.

The Brugmansia’s common name is Angel’s Trumpet. The Angel’s Trumpet in the picture above is from one of my past gardens. It bloomed year-round, so the scent outside the master bedroom window was out of this world. I think the window was always open at dusk to let the fragrance in.

Brugmansia’s are difficult to find in nurseries and are usually carried by the smaller mom-and-pop nurseries. I recently found a small yellow one that is now outside waiting for me to transfer it from nursery pot to the ground, although the longer it waits, the more I’m thinking about putting it in a large glazed pot.

A side story to Datura and Brugmansia is that if the flowers are boiled in water, they create a “tea” that, when drank, creates a “natural high”—delusional and hallucinogenic euphoria. Sadly, this natural high can paralyze the vocal chords; cause liver failure, dry mouth, blurred vision, and incontinence; and even cause death. About every five years or so, some high school students here in the San Diego area learn the hard way about getting a natural high from these two plants. Animals, especially dogs and cattle, also are affected negatively when they eat the plants.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Best San Diego location to watch planes

Did you know?

If you fly into San Diego, try to get a window seat on the left side of the plane. That will give you a birds-eye view of downtown San Diego. Some would say a “way-too-close” birds-eye view. If you sit on the right side, you’ll get a view of the grass and trees in Balboa Park, not nearly as exciting.

There are times, though, usually during extreme Santa Ana wind conditions, when neither side of the plane provide a good view for passengers because the planes will circle around and come in to land from the ocean side.

Regardless of wind conditions, there is a place where the viewing is quite spectacular for anyone on the ground. During regular wind conditions, planes take off just a hundred feet above your head, landing just a hundred feet above your head during Santa Ana wind conditions. It’s not an easy place to find or get to, but when you find it, you can spend all day there because there is a nice little park and lots of food and drinking establishments within walking distance. It’s well worth the experience.

On Google maps:

Location for great plane watching in San Diego

Here’s a picture of a plane taking off in the early morning “marine layer” (called “fog” in other parts of the world):

Plane landing in San Diego

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Did you know?

People need people

Did you know?

After arriving in San Diego on April 27, 1993, I spent the next ten months studying the world’s great, and not so great, religions. I considered myself retired and simply wanted to explore the world. I had enough money to do it.

My mom’s side of the family were Mormons while dad’s side were Catholics. A pretty eclectic marriage, pun intended.

I was looking for a religion that might welcome an openly gay guy. I didn’t find one.

The closest at the time were the Universalists, both Christian Universalist and Unitarian Universalist. Both of them were a little too strange for me, which is kind of funny since all religions believing in some of the stuff they do pretty much makes them strange.

The other possibility was the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a “religion” founded in 1968 by a gay guy to provide religious support to the gay community. However, I had two problems with MCC:

The first was with the mass, and the word mass should tell you all you need to know. It was just Catholicism under a different name.

The second was that mass was simply a place to cruise other guys (and gals for the gals) on Sunday morning. The mere fact that one was at church on Sunday morning probably meant that one had not gotten lucky Saturday night.

After ten months I had decided that my religion was nature, both fauna and flora, and I found that when I needed someone to talk to, and someone to listen to me, I could go to the beach and talk to the animals, the birds and the bees. Of course, when the ground squirrel or the seagulls stole my lunch, I had a few choice words for them. But they always came back to listen, as long as they thought I might have more food….

Finally, on February 14, 1994, I decided to go back to work. Didn’t know what I was going to do but with my typing ability and my command of the English language, I knew I could easily find a job. It wasn’t that I needed money. It was that I had determined that people are social animals and really don’t like to be alone. On that Valentine’s Day, I went to the beach and found it pretty much looking like this:

Beach chairs

It was obvious that there were people around but they were not within sight. Probably out scuba diving. I was both alone and lonely that day. I needed interaction with people on a regular basis, and work could provide that, even if it was forced interaction.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

I have been a Native since April 28, 1993

Did you know?

From October 2015 to August 2016, I was biding my time by delivering packages for Amazon Prime Now and people for Uber. One of my Uber passengers was an 87-year-old man who had been born and raised in San Diego, and had lived his entire life here. He immediately recognized an accent and we had a great conversation during the 10-minute ride, the tail end of which went something like this:

Uber Passenger: “Where are you from?”

Me: La Mesa

UP: No, originally. I’d guess Texas.

Me: Why Texas?

UP: The accent.

Me: Yes, Texas. But I’ve been here for 23 years. Surely I don’t still have a Texas accent!

UP: You do. Are you a Native?

Me: I don’t understand. I was born in Texas.

UP: But are you a Native?

Me: Okay. What’s a Native?

UP: A Native is someone who no longer GOES home because he IS home.

ME: I like that. I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993. By that definition, I have been a Native since April 28, 1993.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post