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Features (Creature Feature)

Cicadas, crickets and katydids can create quite a racket

You hear them everywhere: driving in your car with the top down, sitting outside on a warm, summer evening and falling asleep to their songs with your windows open. Who are they? Cicadas, crickets and katydids — the trio you hear separately or together at all hours — starting in spring and belting out a peak performance this time of year.
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Mark your calendar

Chew on these tales of bad behavior before you add a new member to your family

Through the beveled glass oval of the front door, I could see trouble. My friend and hair-stylist Kathy Burns’ brother was not making a social call. His khaki uniform meant he had come on official business. Dogcatcher business.
    The dog in question, Slip Mahoney, wasn’t home. Wherever he was, he had stirred up enough commotion to bring out the dogcatcher.
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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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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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