Monthly Archives: January 2015


terrariumLate last fall I decided I wanted a terrarium. To bring a little summer inside for the winter if you will. My friend John has an amazing terrarium at the Berkshire Museum. Besides being stuffed with lush greenery, having a pond in it and a mister–it has hundreds of tropical frogs. There are even tadpoles. He has to raise fruit flies to feed them. Its impressive.

I attempted to take on a lesser challenge: local flora and fauna. I brought in a rotted log with moss growing on it, some small plants from the yard and forested property, put it in the turtles old leaking tank on top of rock and leaf litter. I had a couple of pieces of long glass I put on top to keep the moisture in and added the light to my old tracing table to the top. (I added some color with African violets, not native, but free.) Not a bad attempt for an inexpensive terrarium. But it needed a back, some old pink insulation did the trick using Styrofoam for build-outs, I broke down and bought some spray foam. Then applied the spray foam over everything making a bumpy rocky looking background. I painted it and slid it in the back of the tank. Then added plants to the outcrops. Added some clay and ceramic ornaments. Voila my terrarium! But its still not done. It needs a full size sheet of glass to cover the top, a cover for the old white light fixture and also a repaint of the chrome on the edges to make it all even.

african violet mushroom The latest update is the fauna is loving the terrarium as much as the flora. Last night a swarm of midges emerged and the spiders in there are feasting. Also there is some weird looking red eggs on stalks growing on the stem of the African violet and some type of white coral looking lichen or slime mold or mushroom growing near the bottom of the terrarium. Exciting!

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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in backyard science, Science


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Baby its cold outside!

bunny tracks 3It is cold outside, so cold that even the squirrels are staying in their nests. The upside is the sun is out and the light covering of white stuff is sparkling. There are some brave souls out there, the 4 crows that have made our property their territory. (One that was born last year and three that have been here for years.) But the bravest I think are the Lagamorphs hopping around on the snow. More specifically the Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus), a member of the family Leporidae. They are hardy. They are small rabbits that live in both the front and back of the property, they have their territories too. Although they are seen everywhere, and last year was an especially good year for these little bunnies, they are not native, but an introduced species that are creating a competition for the native New England cottontail. They are almost identical to the rarer native cottontail rabbits. The only way I know of telling them apart is by examining their skulls, not a good idea for the lesser of the two. You can recognize rabbit tracks by their patter, three paws in the front and one in the back.

Eastern cottontail rabbit tracks in the snow.

Eastern cottontail rabbit tracks in the snow.

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Posted by on January 15, 2015 in backyard science, Science, science in the parks


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