Insect of the Day, Cats vs Coyotes and more

hoverfly
hoverfly

Isn’t it cute? This teeny tiny hoverfly is munching on some pollen. Oops, some fell onto its wings. The giant ragweed is creating so much pollen, I could see little clouds wafting across my path when I went for a walk this morning. And when I came home my blue jeans were covered in bright yellow splotches. An allergy report last week measured the amount of ragweed pollen at 220 gr/m3. Yipes.

Guilt by Association

goldenrod
goldenrod

I was taught growing up that goldenrod caused people to suffer these terrible fall allergies. Not so. Apparently, goldenrod’s pollen is so heavy the plant relies on insects for pollination rather than the wind. A case of guilt by association: ragweed and goldenrod do bloom around the same time each year and with its showy flowers, goldenrod was the plant that got noticed; meanwhile … the plain looking ragweed was chuckling to itself like some mad super-villain.

This misunderstanding reminds me of a recent kerfuffle in my neighbourhood. Sad to say a number of cats went missing while on their nightly patrols. Assumptions were hastily formed and accusations were made. Specifically, the local coyote got blamed. Fortunately, the fox got a free pass. I am not sure why people will tolerate foxes but not coyotes but so it goes. Foxes get better press I suppose.

Since then, some of the missing cats have strolled on back to their homes and slightly chagrined owners — but not before some residents called Wildlife Services to make complaints about the wild and terrifying coyote. I feared the worse.

Thankfully, Wildlife Service’s response was sane and rational. They reminded people to keep their cats indoors — especially during twilight hours. They also shared some other common sense tips to help us all co-exist peacefully. Whew. I was so worried they were going to send in an assassin. Or worse: a convoy of MRAPs, flame throwers and the AustinPD.

When I first moved here and adopted our cat I was given this advice from the animal shelter: don’t ever let Pyewackett wander at night. The worker wasn’t concerned about coyotes. She said that they had some good documentation that many cats — especially kittens — in our neighbourhood had fallen prey to owls!

It would take a pretty big owl to win a wrestling match against our overweight cat but some things are best not left to chance.

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22 thoughts on “Insect of the Day, Cats vs Coyotes and more

  1. Also – @TexasDeb: I think there’s something about the changing of the seasons that makes the cats want to stay out all night. My indoor/outdoor cat has always been very good about coming in when we go to bed, but every year in the spring and in the fall, she gets it in her little fur-brained head that she is NOT COMING INSIDE because the OUTSIDE IS SO GLORIOUS!!!! I don’t know if maybe it’s that all the critters she hunts (i.e. rats) are more active during those times of the year, or if it’s because it’s actually tolerable to be outside at night, or what it is, but there’s definitely something that makes her want to stay outside longer than usual during this time of year.

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    1. The weather usually is better spring and fall. Plus it is a happening kind of time: new nests … possum migrations … If your cat like mine needs to patrol the perimeter then there is a lot of information to check out.

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  2. Honestly I think most of the neighborhood kittens are taken by a great horned owl pair that make their home in the neighbor’s oak tree in the spring time. I don’t remember hearing the owls this year – I think since another neighbor started doing spay/neuter release work, we haven’t had quite the kitten buffet for the owls so they tend not to linger.

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    1. o.O kitten buffet.
      I do hear owls at night around our house: screech owls and barred owls mostly. I’d hate for someone’s pet to get hurt but on the other hand … they are welcome to nibble on any rats they find.

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    1. I feel for you. One of my neighbours is stricken and pretty much homebound because of the stuff. Yeah. Foxes, goldrenrod, coyotes … all good things.

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  3. We were warned recently of a coyote sighted in our neighborhood (which doesn’t mean it just moved in of course, it just means somebody finally saw it). Aaaand there have been a bunch of “missing” posters featuring pet cats up on posts here lately as well. Is this like the goldenrod/ragweed correlation without causation business? Maybe something about October puts a little extra “wander” into a cat’s agenda?

    I’ll throw in with the leaf mold allergy crowd. That stuff gets me every year, especially since I’m often out working in my garden beds after the autumn rains. It isn’t as bad as any of the tree pollen problems here but it is a recurrent feature of the Fall Snifflies, along with ragweed, of course.

    PS – Tina is right – that hoverfly photo is superb!

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    1. Thanks. Seems to me one reason people notice coyotes in October is the (normally) milder weather probably gets people out of the house. A lot of people just hide inside when it is hot. And oh gosh it is hot again. My husband and I pulled an all-nighter to go to a field to watch the blood moon and it was sooo much more pleasant to be outside at night.

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  4. That photo of the hoverfly is incredible!!! I need to learn how to do that! (Not eat pollen, but take really groovy photos!) I think with the coyotes vs. foxes, it’s just that the foxes are so cute. You know, it’s those tails. Coyotes get a bad rap, like racoons. They’re so adaptable and smart and they’re punished for that. Bummer in some ways, I think. I’ve heard of owls snatching little dogs, kittens and smaller adult cats. The Great Horne owls–they’re big enough for that.

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    1. heh Thanks, Tina. I just let the camera do its thing and try not to get in the way. As bad as it is for coyotes imagine being a possum!

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  5. Our last cat just could not be kept indoors. Fortunately, she died of natural causes. It’s funny about foxes and coyotes. People tend to have a very emotional response to animals. Foxes are cute, coyotes are scary. Just look at children’s literature. It’s a shame. Personally I would organize a welcoming committee for any coyote who wanted to move into our neighborhood and dispatch some of the rabbits, and maybe a skunk or two.

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    1. Even though I am not talking to the squirrel today o.O (she ate ALL of my baby Chinese cabbages … ALL of them … ) I do think we mammals ought to stick together.

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    1. Thanks, Chloris. I honestly didn’t believe her but apparently it is true about the owls. Sorry to hear about your allergies … never fun are they?

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  6. I think Fairytales and Disney have made foxes seem more cool that coyotes. It is sad to me the bad rap coyotes get. Owls might get kittens but full grown cats? We have a hawk that is hunting our squirrels around our house. I knew that about the pollen. I think my fall allergies are from mold. Especially leaf mold.

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    1. Gosh. Sorry to hear about your allergies. When I first moved to the world allergy capitol I was sick for a year — apparently allergic to everything. My body has thankfully adjusted to most but mold still gets me. So Disney is to blame — good to know ;)

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