Homemade Mosquito Trap

DIY Mosquito CatcherHOMEMADE MOSQUITO TRAP:
Items needed:
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 gram of yeast
1 2-liter bottle

HOW:
1. Cut the plastic bottle in half.
2. Mix brown sugar with hot water. Let cool. When cold, pour in the bottom half of the bottle.
3. Add the yeast. No need to mix. It creates carbon dioxide, which attracts mosquitoes.
4. Place the funnel part, upside down, into the other half of the bottle, taping them together if desired.
5. Wrap the bottle with something black, leaving the top uncovered, and place it outside in an area away from your normal gathering area. (Mosquitoes are also drawn to the color black.)

Change the solution every 2 weeks for continuous control.

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New Addition to Backyard!

After years of coming home to find my latest plants destroyed by our dogs, I found a solution on Pinterest! I saw some fabulous ways to section the garden area from the rest of my postage stamp-sized back yard.

Here’s the goal (kind of):

6ft cedar cattle panel garden enclosure

Mine aren’t going to be staggered like this. But we are going to use livestock panels.

$20 apiece at Tractor Supply.

I really like the look of the 4×4 posts and the bottom rail, but that’s the first change.
No WAY can we get those big posts far enough into our granite-filled yard. So we’re going to attach them to T Post– something we did a lot of when we were on the ranch in Wichita Falls. But we got rid of our T-posts driver, so we hammered them in with the back of an axe!

Then we decided not to do the bottom rail, since I’d be planting along there.

Today, Josh and Ron loaded the truck and brought me 3 16 foot livestock panels! Woohoo!!

Phase 1

16 foot Livestock panels

16 foot Livestock panels

First panel up! Wedged right between the back porch and the greenhouse :)

First panel up! Wedged right between the back porch and the greenhouse 🙂

Ron's trying to get it straight

Ron’s trying to get it straight

We had to stop because it started to sprinkle (YAY!!) and I have to move all the rocks to the other side of the fence anyway.

We’re going to attach the panels to the T-posts, and then but boards on both sides with a top rail. That’s the plan!

And if you want to follow some very cool finds I have for My Garden Board, go right ahead and click this.

Phase 2

The wood is all up. The gate still needs to be attached. Each wooden “post” holds up the top rail and hides the Tpost.

garden fencing 3

Phase 3

Gate’s attached.

garden fencing

Still to be Done:

  • Rake out all the rocks
  • Dismantle the old flower bed frames
  • Create the beds
  • Stain the wood
  • Create a path to the gate

 

And this is one puppy bored by the project…

Supervising from the porch!

Supervising from the porch!

Lovely Luna!

full moonFull moon this weekend. Even though it was often hiding in the clouds, it looked like this early on Saturday evening through Kim’s craft room windows. Just lovely!

And September has a very cool app on her iPad that can identify stars and constellations and even see THROUGH the clouds. So cool!

Lastly, if you love the moon, here are a ton of pics and some sweet George Harrison music…

Pomegranates!

I guess that’s really false advertising. There weren’t Pomegranate[s], plural. There was one.
And I watered it and watched it for months.
I purchased the miniature pomegranate tree from the Natural Gardener in south Austin last spring. It had little flowers about to bloom. I watched the blooms open up with such hope! The fragrance was divine.
But, alas, only one lone fruit remained on the tree.
So I protected it.
I put a little fence around it to keep the dogs from digging it up.
And I waited.
We first found out about the joys of pomegranates in Davis, California. Our friends had a pomegranate tree outside their front door. They taught us how to open the fruit in a bowl of water – keeping the juicy little seeds from spraying out around the room. We had such fun with that fruit and always loved eating them over there.
If you know what pomegranates look like from the store, you know they’re not always pretty on the outside.  So I was unsure of when to pick ours from the tree. Part of it began to turn brown and I worried that either the heat or some other catastrophe had befallen my little fruit.
Then one day, I went outside to water and discovered it had fallen off the tree! There my little fruit sat, on the ground, in it’s little fenced raised bed… waiting for me. Hooray! I was excited! But what if it was rotten? It would be such a disappointment!
I called to Katie and told her our little Pomegranate was finally ready. She didn’t even know we had a Pomegranate tree. I am just in my own little world so often, it seems. Anyway, she was thrilled okay with with trying it out with me.
We gathered our bowls of water, and split the pomegranate.
Success! No rotten fruit! And delicious – just the way we remembered it from California!
Katie and I chatted a little more about pomegranates and she finished hers off with glee finished half the bowl and wandered away. So, not to let all those antioxidants and vitamins go to waste, I took some pictures and finished hers off too. Yes, with glee.

Wild Parrots of East Austin

Who knew? I sure didn’t!

Alyssa and I were driving around East Austin on Saturday, looking for East Austin Succulents and Tillery Street Plant Company. I read about them on Michele’s blog, Wabi-Sabi Home & Garden. Of course, we were getting there at at 5 o’clock and they were closing. Still, we’ll be back!

We decided to cut through the Mueller Shopping Center and we noticed the grackles gathering as they do each evening at dusk. Alyssa asked me, “Since when are grackles green?” I immediately thought how sometimes really black feathers can look blue or green and I started to mention that.  But no, that is NOT what she saw.  We looked over in the grass and saw a flock of what seemed like really large parakeets. Or maybe lovebirds.  What??? It was kind of chilly for February in Austin, so we looked at each other in disbelief.

Alyssa immediately called Ron, who was at home. “Dad, can you get on the computer and google green birds in Austin?”  She didn’t need me to solve the problem for her. And she only needed her dad because he could do it quicker from the computer at home. In seconds, he pulled up our answer: The Wild Parrots of East Austin.  Once again, the same question: What???

We laughed at the idea that maybe someone left the pet store door open, and they all got out. But that was clearly not the case. Ron told us that these birds have been roaming Austin for some time now.  When we asked if it was too cold for tropical birds to still be here for the winter, he said that the website he pulled up said they don’t migrate out of Austin.

We drove through the shopping center to the other side and found even more of these lime green birds. They were on the grass, on the telephone wires, in the trees. They had all the same behaviors of grackles at this time of day. We tried to get closer to them to take pictures, but they fluttered away. Another car pulled over beside us and they got out of the car to look. They were dressed up for the evening, but couldn’t resist checking out this very intriguing “wildlife” phenomenon.

We decided we needed to know a little more.

While they are known as the Wild Parrots of East Austin, they’re actually Monk Parakeets. And they have been living here in the Austin area for over 20 years!  One site says they’ve been here since the 1970’s! After a brief web search, we didn’t find much; but we found several possibilities for why the birds are here. Some might be considered Urban Myths, but they’re all interesting and amusing.

From  the Austin Chronicle:

According to an urban myth, the birds came from a pair kept as pets. Perhaps it is due to an account on one Monk Parakeet site, which quotes a July 1995 story by the Austin American-Statesman writer Ricardo Gandara:
In a city known from producing fake rain (remember the sprinklers on MoPac near 35th Street?) and celebrating Spamarama, it should be no surprise that Janet Gilles can stand under a light pole on Town Lake and chirp without causing much of a fuss. She calls out for monk parakeets seen grooming just before they leave their nests to eat. They chirp back. Gilles release 19 monk parakeets, natives to Argentina, in March of 1991 when they wore out their welcome as house pets.

Another story is that the first Monk Parakeets arrived at Kennedy Airport in New York City. Supposedly the crates broke and several of the birds escaped. Argentina gets cold, but I’m not sure it gets as cold as NYC! So evidently they migrated here.

Erik Hueber, a University of Texas student from the 1990’s, wrote a paper that is quoted in several places on the internet. While his paper appears to be gone from the UT website, his link to mapswhere he spotted nests is still available.  These nests were there in the late 90’s, and we haven’t checked them out if they’re still there – YET!

Wikipedia offers this information about their nests:

The Monk Parakeet is the only parrot that builds a stick nest, in a tree or on a man-made structure, rather than using a hole in a tree. This gregarious species often breeds colonially, building a single large nest with separate entrances for each pair. In the wild, the colonies can become quite large, with pairs occupying separate “apartments” in nests that can reach the size of a small automobile. These nests can attract many other tenants including birds of prey such as the Spot-winged Falconet, ducks such as the Yellow-billed Teal, and even mammals. Their 5-12 white eggs hatch in about 24 days.

Yelp.com has a page devoted to the Wild Parrots of East Austin.  You can look there to see where some of the latest sitings are. The most recent says there’s a large nest behind the Frisco Restaurant on Burnet Rd.

So keep your eyes peeled! Look up at the tall light poles near Town Lake. Or at Butler Fields near the Zach Scott Theatre. Or drive around the outskirts of Mueller shopping center like Alyssa and I did. They can’t be too far away; maybe you’ll get a chance to glimpse these curious birds. And if you do, comment here and let me know where you found them.

Hmmm, it’s getting late… maybe we should go to the Frisco tonight and see if we can catch a glimpse of these beautiful birds coming home to roost.

(Be sure to open the Comment section below. The Travis County Audubon Society sent a list of where some of these nests are. They’re not just in East Austin. One could be in your neighborhood!! How cool would that be?)