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Articles by Michelle Steel

Cullen Hunter knows firsthand how to help the furry paws at Calvert Animal Welfare League

What ingredients does it take to make a valuable volunteer for cats waiting for their forever home?
    Cullen Hunter, 19, and his grandfather Robert Sigona — both of Dunkirk — know firsthand how to help out the hundreds of furry paws at Calvert Animal Welfare League.
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Our neighbor, warts and all

The American toad may be the most-seen amphibian in Chesapeake Country. I’ve seen several in my yard this summer, and you probably have, too.
    Odds for spotting an American toad are best near their preferred habitat: garden, forest or meadow. They are active mostly at night, which is when I always find them hopping around my yard or sitting on my patio.
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Meet these award-winners at Twin Beach Players Kids Playwriting Festival

Love, not money, sparked 21 kids to seek spots in Twin Beach Players’ annual Kids Playwriting Festival.
    Lots of love as each had to write a play.
    The $100 prize money was a bonus, all six finalists agreed.
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No messing with worms and insects; this trio eats a five-star diet

Cinco, Patches and Tripod would be homeless were it not for Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Lothian.
    Instead, the three female Eastern box turtles live in five-star-hotel style with amenities including rich soil for digging, logs for climbing, flowing ferns for frolicking, May apples, mushrooms and blueberry bushes for foraging and a wading pond for cooling off.
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Aggressive as kudzu and nasty as stinkbugs

You know kudzu, that invasive vine driven by heat and humidity to devour whole communities. Now meet the kudzu bug.
    The small, flying bugs are as wide as long, resembling yellowish brown or olive-green ladybugs with many small, darker brown spots and ruby-red eyes.
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Perched to take advantage of the sun

Long before dinosaurs walked the earth, dragonflies took to the air.
    Griffenflies, the gigantic precursors of our modern-day dragonflies, took flight in the Carboniferous period over 300 million years ago.
    Their descendants have had plenty of time to spread around the world. Ancient Celts called them big needle of wings. In England, they’re water dippers. In China, old glassy.
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Read on to rid yourself of these paper pests

Pests lurking in our book nooks secretly graze, bore and eat the words we read.
    A few pests graze on the surface starches or glues on papers and books. Others bore into books and eat the paper. Still others feed on mold that grows on the surface of damp paper.

The Grazers
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A trio of birds is helping Flag Ponds Nature Park study climate change

Flag Ponds Nature Park — a remnant habitat of coastal scrub and mature hardwood forest on the western shore of the Chesapeake — is a travelers’ motel to many bird species.
    Among them, three neo-tropical migrants on their way to Canadian breeding grounds — the hooded warbler, the Kentucky warbler and the worm-eating warbler — are being closely watched.
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Masters of acrobatic antics

Snapping a spine under their thorax helps Eastern eyed click beetles turn right side up. It also gives them part of their odd name, which describes the loud click made by their flipping maneuver.
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A trivial comedy for serious people

“I practice my English accent for at least 15 minutes before the show starts,” says Jeffrey Thompson. The 16-year-old plays Jack Worthing in Twin Beach Player’s all-teen production of in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest.
    The teens’ hard work and weeks of practice paid off for the all-teen cast. Focused and on cue in every scene, they’re a team.
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