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Features (Creature Feature)

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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Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have their day

A butterfly or two is an everyday pleasure.
    A dozen or more, a sign you’ve planted well, raising a native garden of plants that bloom in sequence so emergent broods find the food they need to survive.
    But an atmosphere thick with butterflies, bushes shimmering with butterflies: What is that?
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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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If you’ve ever wanted your own fresh eggs, Michele Allman can help you decide if keeping hens is for you

I am not alone in imagining chickens in my back yard. Backyard flocks are on the upswing in suburban and urban America, Chesapeake Country included. Why, the state’s capital allows city-dwellers to raise them.
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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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Did Ray Caden Catch Diamond Jim?

Fifty thousand dollars is at stake in the Maryland Fishing Challenge.
    Catch a Maryland fish, and you may also catch some of the money.
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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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Fireflies’ luminescence is 100% efficient

Tiny golden-yellow lights flicker on, off, on, off.
    Watching them brings memories of childhood.
    Back in the days when I’d play outside from summer sun-up to after sundown, fireflies kept me company at night.
    Reading kept me company, too.
    P.D. Eastman’s Sam and the Firefly was a favorite.
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