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Creature Feature

Find Lothian-grown pumpkins from around the world at Riva Farmers Market

Your search for the perfect pumpkin may end at the Anne Arundel County Farmers Market, where Ray and Sonja Wood of Lothian, with grandson Brandon Myers, offer a bumper crop of heritage pumpkins from around the world.     Some are huge: not pumpkin-catapulting huge, but pumpkin-carving-contest-worthy. As Jack-o’-lanterns or on uncarved display, they’re great.     Decoration was the couple’s original pumpkin plan.

Scientists succeed in gene sequencing the nasty pests

The first one broke in on August 29. Throughout September, every warm, sunny day brought more. Wiggling though cracks a fraction of their size, smearing windows, crawling up walls, hibernating in curtains, under cushions, behind pictures and among magazines. As humans and dogs basked outdoors on the last Saturday in September, a persistent hailstorm of invasive brown marmorated stink bugs pinged house, windows and doors.

Southern migration underway

Say good-bye to an osprey — if you can find one. My neighborhood nests are all empty and their eerie whistle waded into memory.     Beginning in mid-August, the fish hawks left their summer homes all along the Eastern seaboard for winter grounds in the Caribbean, Central and South America.     Where osprey go we know from the work of osprey followers like Rob Bierregaard, who has tagged with transmitters birds all along the coast.

Species at risk in Maryland are a roll call of birds we know and love

Make room for more.         The Vanished Birds of North America, now on exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., features passenger pigeons, Carolina parakeets and heath hens.     But two new reports tell us that list may soon be much longer.     Thirty-three species common in the United States are “in steep decline” according to the 2014 State of the Birds Report from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative.

Disquise and foul odor protect this butterfly

    Caterpillar Survival Rule No. 1: Be disagreeable.     Eurytides Marcellus, the Zebra Swallowtail, a striking butterfly in classic black and white, is Calvert County’s official butterfly. Whether chosen for its instantly recognizable good looks, for its clever defensive tactics or both, the Zebra’s admirers must decide; details of the mascotorial appointment are lost to history.

The very thirsty Silvery Checkerspot

     After being tethered and tightly wrapped since last autumn, checkerspots in the garden are like tiki bar openers, brightly dressed and very thirsty.     I see the silvery checkerspot,  Charidryas nycteis, feeding in groups at everything: bee balm, summer phlox, Shasta daisies — blooming or not, even experimenting with the artificial woodgrain of vinyl siding on our house.

How to train your dog to do what you want

How do I teach my dog to come when called? What does your dog love? Success depends on finding a reward that’s more fun than what the dog is doing instead of coming when called.     Irresistible rewards include yummy treats, lots of praise and petting, playing with a favorite toy, belly rubs, playing a chase game or whatever suits your dog. But it’s got to be more satisfying than whatever is distracting the dog from coming back to you.

It took a village to make Zoe mobile

Zoe is a spunky three-year old French bulldog. At home, her paralyzed back legs were no problem as she scooted over carpet. Top-heavy by nature, she bulked up by pulling herself with her shoulders.     But on vacation at Stay Pet Resort in Hanover, she was grounded on slippery concrete. She wanted to play with the other dogs but was stuck watching the action from the sidelines. Until she got fixed up with a new set of wheels.

Training makes a happier fellow

Optimus Prime was a playful, high-energy puppy when Sergeant Gregory ‘GJ’ Tomas Jr. received orders deploying him to Afghanistan for a second tour with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

Guess who’s the top dog?

When you stop by Will & Veronica’s produce stand in Owings, you’ll likely be greeted by Onyx and Gizmo. Onyx is a five-year-old, 115-pound male German shepherd/husky mix. Gizmo is a 10-year-old, three-and-a-half-pound male Chihuahua.     A few friendly sniffs hello and they’ll be on their way again, hard at work chasing bees and flies, herding pigs, napping in the sunshine or hitching a ride on the golf cart.