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Monday, October 6, 2014

October 2014

My entomology class has been in full swing.  We've visited a number of different places and collected a diversity of species.  We did some blacklighting one night, and coupled our field trip to Lowell's with a bonfire, hotdogs and fishing.  We've also been to Lock and Dam 21, Quinsippi Island, and Fall Creek.  I usually take my macro lens.  At Fall Creek, we found ourselves in the midst of a big patch of Jewel weed.  I mentioned that they were also called Touch-Me-Nots because of their exploding seed pods.  As there were plenty of mature seed pods, we put it to the test.  This effort proved to be a major distraction for a long time.  Here's a video I took with my phone.
From September 2014

When we bought the property on Jamison last year, where Savannah now lives, we inherited a 55-gallon drum of "herbicide".  Going back three owners, that's all we could learn, and no one wanted to claim it.  Fortunately, our Missouri Department of Natural Resources had a pesticide collection last week.  I had a couple of friends (Thanks, Aaron and Barry!) help me load it in the back of my truck.  Stacey and I drove it all the way to Shelbina -- an hour one way.  It was a fun ride for the dogs anyway.  The DNR accepted the barrel.  Though I still don't know what was in it, I'm very glad to be shed of it.  It's like a weight off my shoulders.  It will be incinerated.

I returned to my office one day to have a student hand me a note.  He'd been working the front desk and took a call from a lady in distress who had exhausted all other possibilities to solving her problem, mostly pest control companies. She had suspicious holes in her yard, with little mounds of dirt. I wasn't really interested, as these things tend to be wild goose chases.  I delayed checking my voice mail, but eventually the phone rang.  I would have sworn this was a man on the phone from the voice. After a little Q&A, I determined she did not likely have wasps.  I had some ideas, and by now my curiosity was up, so I drove my motorcycle across Quincy to do an inspection of the premises.  She was, in fact, female, but with the lifelong smoker's voice.  Her back yard was riddled with burrows.  Each consisted of a little mound of earth, which, when upturned, revealed a burrow beneath of perhaps 5 mm in diameter.  I dug up about three of them, which revealed no occupants.  After noting that the dirt mounds consisted of hardened mud pellets, I could only conclude that her yard was full of earthworms.  She said they multiplied nightly.  I said, "Yes, because they're not pooping in the same place twice."  There was no need to spray her yard with insecticide.  Earthworms are actually a good thing to have.

Recently we learned that Canton is scheduled to host the final day of a bike ride across Missouri next summer, the Big BAM (  I was recently appointed to Canton's Tourism Commission and I'm apparently the most experienced cyclist, so I was chosen to lead the charge in making the arrangements to host something over 1000 people.  It's going to be a lot of work, but we are already getting a handle on it.

With repeated trips to Lowell's, I've done a bit of work on the proposed home site.  I sprayed and killed a lot of poison ivy.  Last time I cut down some trees so that the electrical line can be restored.  There is still much to do, but we are waiting on the surveyor to call so that we can make some real progress.  I thought I would reveal now that we are planning to build a nontraditional house.  We have experienced a tornado in the past.  We have both been firefighters and seen plenty of houses burn down.  As an entomologist, I've seen homes destroyed by termites.  Our house will be vulnerable to none of these.  It will be a monolithic dome, constructed primarily of steel-reinforced concrete.  Also, it will be very energy efficient.  We are not certain exactly what it will look like when finished, and we are still arguing about the floor plan, but we have plenty of time to make those decisions.  To learn more about monolithic domes, visit