Monday, November 13, 2017


Perfumed Bounce dryer sheets keep pack rats away.  At least that's what we believed until this week, when we got a lesson in biodiversity.  

For years we've scattered these odoriferous sheets--with their sickly sweet aroma--under the hoods of machines and vehicles.  

During that time, they have appeared to keep the pack rats away.

But are all pack rats (aka Eastern Woodrats, Neotoma floridana) repelled by Bounce dryer sheets?  

Apparently not!

While cleaning out an old shed, I found several pack rat nests festively adorned with Bounce dryer sheets.    

I removed the nests but saved the sheets that were still in good condition, placing about 50 of them in a pail on a shelf.

I returned the next day and found all 50 sheets in a space between wall and roof--the beginnings of a new nest. 

I removed the sheets altogether and Mr. and/or Mrs. Pack Rat haven't returned.  

If they do, there are two live traps waiting for them.

Most pack rats use a generic scaffolding of leaves and sticks, but some are great specialists when it comes to toppings. We have found nests that were topped with nothing but soybeans; nothing but corn cobs--dog food--cat food--and toys.   My friend Mary McCoy, while doing field work, found a nest of nothing but rabbits' feet!  

The shed rats love Bounce.

If we find them in the live traps, there is transport awaiting them to the far reaches of the pasture.  

The last thing we need close to home, where our engines and electrical wires are protected by dryer sheets, are pack rats that specialize in dryer sheets!  

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Restoring Bottomland Prairie: Motherwort, March 2017

Motherwort volunteered in the riparian buffer, greening up in early spring.  

Introduced from Asia, Motherwort is apparently invasive in eastern woodlands.  It does not appear to be so here, as it has reappeared in the same spot on the creek bank, year after year, without expanding its reach.   So far, it has simply added to our biodiversity!
Leonurus cardiaca
Mint Family (Lamiaceae)
Native of Asia, Volunteer
A traditional medicinal plant in Europe and Asia,
now naturalized along Great Plains streams
and rivers, Motherwort was used to treat
heart ailments, rabies, and lassitude (!).

You can see its rectangular stems, proclaiming its membership in the mint family.  

As summer arrives, Motherwort is overtopped by other plants along the creek bank.   I forget to look for it, so I have yet to catch it blooming.

But this may be the year!  

Restoring Bottomland Prairie: Winter Annuals Volunteer

Wedge-leaf Draba
Draba cunefolia
Mustard Family
Annual or winter annual
Native volunteer

These four species of winter annuals--two native, two introduced--blossomed in April 2017 on the riparian buffer bordering the Creek Field.  All four were volunteers!

Corn Gromwell
Buglossoides arvensis (Lithospermum arvense)
Borage Family (Boraginaceae)
Winter Annual
Introduced from Eurasia, Volunteer

Slender Fumewort
Corydalis micrantha
Fumewort Family
Winter annual, native volunteer

I found a fly busily drinking nectar from Treacle Mustard (the fly is visible in the photo below).   The fly doesn't seem to object to the mustard's non-native status!  

Treacle Mustard
Erysimum repandum
Winter Annual
Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)
Introduced from Eurasia, Volunteer