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Creature Feature

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.     The girls, as they’re called by staff and volunteers, are forest-dwellers, so much of their 16-by-five-foot enclosure is shaded, with sparse sunny spots.

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.     Vine and bug grew up together in Asia. This summer the creatures, aka brown ladybugs — are on the rise in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince Georges and St. Mary’s counties.

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.     I’d appreciate their weeding skills to keep the violets, dandelions, and chickweed in check and to work compost into the soil where I’d like to install new garden beds. Most of all, I’d like just-laid eggs, firm with bright orange yolks.

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.

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     The most familiar paper pest is the silverfish, which looks like a fish out of water and swims lightning fast across floors and walls.

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.     The eye in the name comes from the two white eyespots on the tops of their upper bodies. These eyes make the beetle look a bit like the head of a snake, to scare away predators. If that fails, it has a couple of other tricks.

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.     The big bucks — $25,000 — are riding on Diamond Jim. Jim’s a rockfish whose identity changes throughout summer. Each month, Maryland Department of Natural Resources fishers catch, tag and release one genuine Jim plus hundreds of imposters.

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.

Goodbye cicadas

Back on May 19, I spotted a few cicada shells — golden brown empty casings — scattered in my Huntingtown yard.     On May 21, I saw my first teneral adult, emerging milky white from a matching cotton-like casing.     Then, I saw a few adults — black in their new exoskeleton with eerie red, beady eyes — crawling around the patio.     After that, I saw nothing else. I could hear cicadas but not see them.

The dads take fatherhood seriously, too

Phoebes are inconspicuous in plumage, but you will hear them from wooded areas loud and clear: FEEE-bee-bee-bee! Eastern phoebes, part of the flycatcher family, swoop down from understory branches to catch moths, mosquitoes and other Undesirable Flitting Objects. The generic name for flycatchers, Empidomax, is from the Greek for king of the gnats.