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Creature Feature

This invader transforms from trick to treat

Since 2002, when the northern snakehead made its Chesapeake debut in a Crofton pond, it has been nothing but trouble. The pond was poisoned and drained. The species set up housekeeping in the Potomac and its tidal tributaries, whence it could eventually migrate to the Bay.     After all that trickery, who’d expect the snakehead to turn into a treat?     Yet the snakehead now is attracting fishermen, chefs, seafood marketers and gourmets.

Maryland Grazers hope to clean up the Bay getting cattle farmers to switch feed from corn to grass

Cows in the Bay watershed will live happier lives grazing at their whim in green pastures rather than confined in cells and fed a diet of corn.     Their comfort is so good for the Bay and for farmers that it has earned the Chesapeake Bay Foundation a $200,000 grant to extend its three-year-old Maryland Grazers Network to more farmers in more places.

Blessing of the animals draws friends furry and feathered

Companion dogs and cats were this year’s dominant species among those receiving blessings at All Hallows Parish’s traditional Blessing of the Animals. Joining them were four exotics: Moonshine, a blue-and-gold macaw; Iggy, a four-foot iguana, and two baby potbelly pigs.     “They were all very well behaved,” said the Rev. Alistair So, rector of the historic Episcopal parish and companion to two dogs, a Siberian husky and a husky-Doberman mix.

You can run, but you can’t hide

Invading aquatic species will have to speed up their evolutionary development of evasive strategies to outsmart the newest addition to the University of Maryland Environmental Science research fleet. The 155-foot barge, known as the Mobile Test Platform, has the job of testing the array of new ballast-water treatment technologies developed in hopes of keeping invaders out of Chesapeake Bay.

Catch one last glimpse of these orange beauties before they head south for the winter

Each year as the leaves turn orange in Maryland, orange-tinted butterflies turn south. Monarch butterflies, easily recognizable in bold orange and yellow hues, visit Maryland each spring and summer to enjoy nectar and liquids from fruit.

Death interrupts but does not end the osprey cycle

As the osprey head south this year, we say goodbye forever to one special bird: Olive Osprey.     Like many of her species, she was shot. Not over Cuba or the Dominican Republic, where fish farmers consider osprey birds of prey. Olive was shot as she sat on her eggs in her nest in Southern Anne Arundel County, where she had been welcomed and had gained celebrity.     Her killers were neighborhood boys.

How Patuxent animals coped with high water

The record-setting flood on the Patuxent River that shut down parts of Route 4 and Route 301 on September 8 also created chaos and danger for the animals living in Jug Bay marshes. Mattress-sized clumps of uprooted marsh plants and large logs floated fast downstream. The current in the river’s main channel was pumping three times faster than normal.

Itching is the least of their nasty woes

Downed trees, dented houses and absent power are the larger consequence of Irene, Lee and their ilk. But the smaller consequences can also get under your skin. And keep you itching.     Mosquitoes are biting. Many kinds of mosquitoes.     The extraordinary amount of rain from the two storms is just what the eggs of opportunistic female fresh-floodwater mosquitoes have been waiting for to hatch.

$2.4 million federal grant resolves the conflict

The little Puritan tiger beetle has it way better than many other bugs in the news.         Stinkbugs and emerald ash borers: We’re dead-set on eliminating those alien destroyers.     But the Puritan tiger beetle was here long before us, and to keep it here we go to great lengths.     And great expense.

Pumpkin Ash found at Jug Bay adds to number of native species

When your official list of trees includes only 29 species, the addition of one more makes a big boost. Anne Arundel’s rise to 29 from 28 came from the addition of Fraxinus profunda.     Profunda, familiarly known as the pumpkin ash, was identified and measured at Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary this month by Maryland Big Tree volunteer Dan Wilson of Harford County.