Do you have smelly neighbours? (Skunks, not pot growers)

To avoid being sprayed, watch for the signs: foot stomping, hissing and tail raising

Do you have smelly neighbours? (Skunks, not pot growers)Ask almost anyone what they think of skunks and their nose will curl up and they’ll frown. I kind of like the smell. Don’t get your knickers in a knot – personal preferences are, well, personal! So why don’t we explore the life of these common, but maligned, mammals? But before we do … although…

Fungi fundamentals: the truth about mushrooms

Fungi have great names – turkey tail, pigskin poison, honey mushroom – and come in all shapes and sizes

Fungi fundamentals: the truth about mushroomsMy local nature club recently hosted a mushroom walk. No, that’s not where you take your pet mushroom for a walk. We visited some trails in central Ontario looking for different types of mushrooms, poisonous and edible. We weren’t foraging so we left the woods as we found them, although many others go to local…

Want to enjoy wildlife? Here’s how to do it safely

Don’t be afraid to enjoy nature – just do it on their terms and with their survival in mind

Want to enjoy wildlife? Here’s how to do it safelyWith COVID-19 an overriding part of our lives, many folks have begun to see and appreciate nature like never before. Whenever we encounter nature, and while our actions may seem harmless, they might be dangerous to wildlife. Wildlife can be negatively impacted by what we do and how we do it. Having studied wildlife most…

Climate questions that make me pause

I bought some hardware items the other day. The plastic wrapping outweighed the things I was buying

Climate questions that make me pauseA few columns ago I started a dialogue about climate issues and how we could, and should, react to them. I become more confused than enlightened as I strive to learn more about the issue and the proposed solutions. I have a few questions that trouble me: If we should reduce our dependence on fossil…

Is there a good side to forest fires?

Fires are a form of selective harvest

Is there a good side to forest fires?The media is abuzz with the devastating wildfires in western and central Canada and across parts of Europe. Tens of thousands of hectares and countless lives and families have been impacted. As you read on, please don’t think for a moment that I’m uncaring for those affected. But is there an upside to these fires…

When it gets cold, where do all the bugs go?

Insects reduce their functions so only essential processes work: respiration and waste elimination

When it gets cold, where do all the bugs go?I know it’s still summer but soon it will get colder and things will be radically different. Sometimes I wonder where all the bugs go in the winter. Seems a bit silly but they’re out there somewhere all winter – at least most of them. But where are they? Insects and their allies (e.g. spiders,…

My close and unforgettable encounters with wolves

The wolf came within 25 metres and stared at me as if looking through me, then trotted back into the bush, satisfied that I was neither tasty nor a threat

My close and unforgettable encounters with wolvesThe eastern grey wolf is a mysterious animal that evokes different emotions in us. How you react comes down to how much time you’ve spent with them or, more importantly, how much time you’ve taken to learn something about them. I’ve always revered them, having had several close encounters over the years. Each has left…

The nasty ways insects inflict damage on humans

Only the female mosquito seeks a blood meal. She needs to penetrate the skin of warm-blooded mammals to get her meals

The nasty ways insects inflict damage on humansAs a naturalist, I wonder about things – sometimes obvious things, sometimes odd things but always interesting things. Today’s thought surrounds interactions with insects, their kin and other critters that on occasion negatively interact with us. People often claim to have been bitten by an insect. “That mosquito just bit me!” But did it? Or…

Gypsy moths have invaded North America. What can we do?

Insects are already in serious decline throughout the world, so killing insects for the sake of killing them seems ill-advised

Gypsy moths have invaded North America. What can we do?This seems to be a good year for gypsy moths and a bad one for people who love trees. Have you never seen a gypsy moth? This might be the best time to find them. Look for a light to dark brown, medium-sized moth flying in a seemingly erratic way. These are the males. They’re…
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