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Sites for Sore Eyes, Black Thumb Brigade or Sons of Toil Covered in Tons of Soil

by Wes Porter

Friday, June 30, 2006

Darwin Digitalized

Charles Robert Darwin was many things: naturalist, traveller, researcher, scientist, evolutionist, author, family man. However, one thing he did not excel in was penmanship. This despite his 16 books, 350 scientific papers and more than 80,000 pages of notes

Fortunately, it is not only previously unpublished notebooks and drafts of one of the most influential scientists of all time that the American Museum of Natural History in New York has assembled at this extraordinary site. A pilot project drawing on resources of members of the Biodiversity Heritage Library Consortium contributions are included from the Natural History Museum (London) and the Missouri Botanical Gardens, also included here are key evolutionary texts.

These include not only Darwin’s publications — and no one should miss out on The Voyage of the Beagle — but evolutionary science since the Origin of the Species. Those raised before the computer age can only blink in utter amazement at the opportunity to examine vital texts at the Darwin Digital Library of Evolution.

Integrated Pest Management for Turf

General concern over the environment has brought into focus lawn care practices — or the lack of them. This has interest to focus on Integrated Pest Management (IPM). First emerging on the horticultural radar screen almost 50 years ago, advances in modern technology have in recent years made it more practical on a residential scale.

Turf Specialist Pam Charbonneau of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) created this fascinating look into just what IPM is and how it works. Careful planning and management of lawns — or for that matter golf courses, playing fields, parks and other turf areas — is the key to all that follows. Then there is the correct identification of pests and other problems and monitoring these to establish at what thresholds will some action be necessary, be it cultural, biological or even chemical.

Related links include insect parasitic nematodes, pest diagnostic clinic, the Guelph Turfgrass Institute and the National Turfgrass Evaluation program.

Whacking Away at Woody Woodpecker

A woodpecker pounding on the side of your house or on a metal vent at 5 a.m., or any other time, can be quite annoying, says Jim Tassano, a pest control specialist located in Sonora, California. It can also result in some expensive repairs to the wood siding of your house, he notes. Barns, utility poles, fence posts and other structures may also come under attack.

Before dismissing this out of hand, hydro poles in B.C. faced just such an attack some years ago. So when Tassano says that woodpeckers cause millions of dollars of damage annually in the U.S. alone, he is chipping away on fact, not fiction. This site fills in on the biology behind the bird bashing here, there and everywhere wooden.

Sophron Marketing offers a solution in the intriguing Birds-Away Attack Spider® woodpecker deterrent. This battery-operated device, when activated by sound, drops an 18-inch string while making loud noises. Rather unsurprisingly, this spider-like object and the racket it makes scares the living heck out of the most determined woodpecker.

Delighted customers have reported it has also terrorized deer, pets, children, and even couriers and other delivery service representatives. Sounds like something Mark Twain would have loved after his famous tale of the pigs of a backwoods farmer, after becoming accustomed to him rapping his pipe on the fence as a signal that food was in the trough, being driven to distraction by a dang woodpecker.

However, please don’t get your shotgun and start blasting away, concludes Tassano. Woodpeckers are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Did we hear a faint ah-ha-ha-ha?

Wes Porter is a horticultural consultant and writer based in Toronto. He has over 40 years of experience in both temperate and tropical horticulture from three continents.