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The Surprise On the Hearth

One of the reasons I fell for this house when we were looking was the fireplace. I love the cozy feel of a fire on a cold, damp evening. Especially when it’s a real fire, with real logs. I feel we lucked out with this place. The house also came with a big lot, and a number of mature trees. Over the years some of those trees have come down in storms, and so we’ve had a pretty steady supply of firewood. We keep a wood pile next to the shed and bring in a supply as needed.
pile of firewood on the hearth

About a month ago I brought in an armload of mulberry wood and stacked it on the hearth. But we never actually built the fire, so the wood just sat there. After a couple of weeks I started to hear weird little clicking noises, and I assumed it was from the wind coming down the open fireplace flue. The sounds became more frequent, and Hubs commented. I closed the flue.

The sounds didn’t stop though. They became louder. And we came to realise they were coming from the wood.

Something was trying to get out.

Let me allow that to sink in. Something was in those logs and had started chewing its way out. I should have been concerned I am sure. Hubs wanted me to put the wood back outside or burn it or something, but I’m a bit of a freak. I had to know what was in there! So I left it on the hearth and waited and watched as the sounds grew louder over the days.

Then one day there were holes in the wood. That’s right, more than one hole, in more than one piece of wood. And there was sawdust.

What came out? Beetles.

For the record, the beetles were super lazy and were just laying around on the logs, collecting energy I guess. Once I got a few pictures I was able to gingerly pick up the wood, place it in a plastic bin and bring it all outside. Beetles did not overrun my home. Thank goodness!

I did a bit of research online and managed to identify these critters as Longhorn Beetles of some type. I’m thinking Spondylidinae. The larvae bore their way into wood and bore back out again when they mature. I also confirmed these are not Asian Longhorn Beetles (no spots), so that’s good news for the trees around here.

I’ve always been careful around the wood pile, mostly because of a fear of various big and possibly venomous spiders that like to make their homes in such areas. Like black widows. But I never thought about what I might be bringing in to my living room when I carried in logs. I expect I’ll be a little more careful from now on, and only bring in wood when I intend to burn it right away!

Good call, you think?

Oh! And if you have a more precise name for this guy, please let me know in the comments.

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Happy Earth Day 2012!

April 22, 2012
It’s Earth Day once again! Though we should be kind to our Earth and appreciate her every day, it is nice to have a dedicated day for us to slow down and contemplate how we can live gently with her all year round.

© Qtrix | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Do you have any special plans? To be honest, we don’t have anything big going on. I’ve been working and travelling a lot and this is my first day off since two Mondays ago, so I’m mostly looking forward to tidying up the house and relaxing with my boys. If it warms up a little this afternoon we may go for a nature walk and see how many different kinds of birds and animals we can see. And I hope to get to the garden centre with Little Boo to pick up some soil as well as some bird seed to get our feeders filled and welcoming. The cardinals were yelling at me earlier this week that I had nothing out for them. Oops!

Many businesses and municipalities sponsored neighbourhood clean-ups on Friday and/or Saturday this week. These clean-ups are an important way we can help the Earth and keep our environments pleasant and litter-free. It is the perfect time of year to get out there and see what has appeared in the gutters and corners and trapped in fences after the winter thaw (that is, if you had winter this year). Snow covers a plethora of sins and when it goes the mess left behind can be really gross.

I went over our property and the road and sidewalk immediately in front of us two weeks ago, and I completely filled a big garbage bag with other people’s trash. Yuck. But it looks so much better now, and I feel better that little kids aren’t walking by and being tempted to pick up shiny garbage that looks like a treasure to them. I got Little Boo to help me. He wore his gardening gloves and pointed out things to me to be picked up. I took the opportunity to talk with him about the importance of not littering. We also talked about recycling and what goes in our green bin, but he’s pretty well-versed in that already. He always asks if he isn’t sure which bin to use. (I’m so proud!)

We also started seeds that same weekend, and talked about plans for our garden, what vegetables he wanted to grow. Harvesting and enjoying our own home-grown produce is a wonderful experience. Plus, fresh from the garden always tastes better.

Did you know that Earth Day in Canada has its own website? I had no idea, but you can visit to find out more information, eco-trivia, and events to enjoy with your family. Here is the listing for Ontario Earth Day events. The Toronto Zoo for one is hosting their Party for the Planet today, with events running until 4:00pm. And you can buy a rain barrel there until 4:30pm ($50 for pre-registered Zoo members, $55 for general public and walk-ins). Rain barrels are a great way to conserve water and keep your garden healthy.

So, I hope you enjoy your day. I’d love to hear how you are spending it, and what ideas you have for sharing Earth Day and its message with our kids. Please leave a comment below!  I’m also going to leave you with a link to an old post of mine, because it is such an easy, fun, and helpful activity for today. See if you can make some pine cone bird feeders of your own!