Tag Archives: backyard wildlife

Aquatic Macro Invertebrates at Litzinger Road Ecology Center

Mother crawdad with babies
I used my childhood crawdad catching skills to hand-catch the most “Macro” invertebrate of the day – a large mother crawdad with tiny babies clinging to the underside of her tail. We released all the animals back into the water after we had a look at them.

Aquatic Macro Invertebrates are animals without a backbone that live in water and can be seen with the naked eye. I’ve had an interest in these creatures ever since I can remember. When I was young I caught a variety of water invertebrates such as water beetles, clams, crawdads and snails and attempted to maintain them in my aquariums. I was thrilled when my brother’s aquarium started to grow hydra even though they predate on tiny fish, because I’d read about them but never thought I’d see any. I currently have small colonies of freshwater shrimp in three of my aquariums. Many aquatic invertebrates are insects that live part of their life cycles in water but have an adult flying stage.

When the Litzinger Road Ecology Center offered a training workshop for volunteers on how Aquatic Macro Invertebrates are used to monitor water quality, of course I had to attend. Master Naturalist and Stream Team member Cliff Parmer taught us some Aquatic Entomology facts then we went outside to Deer Creek to learn how to take a scientific sample of water invertebrates.

Read more on the Schnarr’s Blog: Aquatic Macro Invertebrates at Litzinger Road Ecology Center

How to Raise Mealworms For Your Backyard Birds


Mealworm larva, pupae and adult

Life stages of the mealworm beetle in my hand – one larva, two pupae and one adult

Late winter and early spring are good seasons to attract desirable bird species to your yard. Birds are not brooding eggs yet because they need to wait until later in spring when there is enough insect food to feed their young. However, they are now engaged in, well, getting engaged! In other words many birds are scouting out nest sites and selecting mates if they haven’t done that already. Some of the most sought-after backyard bird species are heavy insect eaters. Raising live mealworms is so easy, I started by accident!

Read more on the Schnarr’s Hardware blog:
How to Raise Mealworms For Your Backyard Birds

Gardening for the Birds

Native plants that support invertebrates and birds

In Feburary, I attended a lecture “Naturescaping: Gardening for the Birds and their Friends”, sponsored by the The Saint Louis Urban Farm & Sustainable Development Group. The speaker was Mitch Leachman, Executive Director of the St. Louis Audubon Society and coordinator of their Bring Conservation Home program.

I’ve been gardening partly to benefit birds for over 10 years now. I’m not allowed to have bird feeders where I live, but I can provide a water feature and plants that help provide food, shelter and nest materials. I also have permission from the Condo Association for a nest box, which was used by Carolina Wrens this past summer. I refrain from using pesticides to help ensure that the bugs in my garden are safe for birds to eat. Like a lot of people, I am also interested in invertebrate conservation, so I have planted several species of plants specifically to be used as host plants for butterflies and as habitat for beneficial insects.

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Upcycled Butterfly Feeder

Upcycled Butterfly Feeder
Upcycled Butterfly Feeder

When I got a new dishwasher this spring, I decided to get rid of my broken garbage disposal rather than purchase a new one. When it was working, I rarely used it anyway since I composted almost anything that would normally go down it. In a way it’s kind of a bad habit because I already have more than enough stuff but I do enjoy saving odds and ends of things I might be able to re-use and seeing if I can make them into something useful. My Dad installed my new dishwasher for me and removed the old garbage disposal and he gave me several ringlike parts that he thought I might be able to use for something. One of them fits perfectly a glass part of a broken fountain/mister that someone else gave me.

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