Author Archives: jane

Interesting Caterpillar Found: Curve-lined Owlet

I discovered this interesting caterpillar while doing yard work last summer. It was on a smilax plant (also called a greenbrier). I love the tendril-like projections on the curve-lined owlet (Phyprosopus callitrichoides). The neatest part is when they hold on with their anterior prolegs and dangle like a dead leaf. (see bottom photo)

Photo taken in June.

Photos taken one week later.

Japanese beetles In My Maryland Garden

Japanese beetles Popillia japonica are native to Japan. They skeletonize the leaves of many of the plants in my gardens. Even if you are not a gardener, surely you have seen them before. For, they are ubiquitous.

This is Japanese beetle damage on my edamame plants.

Japanese beetles are really quite cool looking. I love the metallic green of its head and thorax. I’d really like these beetles if they didn’t much so heavily on my apple tree (and so many other plants).

This picture shows relative size.

I combat them by hand picking them off in the mornings when they are slower moving. I then feed them to my chickens; that snatch them up. If I don’t get them off in the morning, then I capture them in a jar that I keep handy. (I do this because the beetles will often fly away before the chickens can gobble them down.)

Mating Japanese beetles.

Give Away: Cool Can Constellation Lantern

Deadline is March 12th 2012 (midnight)

To win this handmade lantern, all you have to do is comment on this post. Please limit yourself to one comment per e-mail address. (Click the comment button below the post title.)

This is one of the lanterns I made; it has the constellation Hercules on one side and Orion on the other. I came up with this idea after experimenting with luminaries made with patterns of holes that allow light to spill out. I thought that if I made them with constellations; my kids would want to learn them and they would have an easier time doing it. Plus they’re so neat. It’s working.

Good Luck!

Learn more about how I made this lantern here.

I’ll randomly pick a winner and send an e-mail on March 12th 2012. I’ll need the winner to respond and provide a name and address to be used for mailing purposes.

If you live in the United States, I’ll also pay for shipping. If not, you will need to cover the shipping cost.

I’ll carefully pack it up and send it right out to you. Expect a clean but reused box and packing materials (no surprise there).

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs In My House In Maryland

Over the past few winters, I’ve been finding increasing numbers of stink bugs coming in my Maryland home. The stink bug that I see almost exclusively is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). This stink bug is not native to Maryland or even the US. It is native to China, Japan and surrounding countries. The BMSB (Halyomorpha halys) is an agricultural pest. Its exploding population is a threat to our food production which if numbers can’t be controlled, will make the price of many fruits and vegetables rise considerably.

Learn more about this invasive species here.

Know the difference between this non-native species and our native stink bugs.

Many of our native stink bugs look similar to the BMSB. To be sure you found a BMSB, look at the antennae and around the perimeter of their back:

The antennae have alternating dark and light bands and when looking from the top, you will see dark and light banding along the edges of the abdomen. See photos.

Can Constellation Lantern Craft

This is a fun way to learn constellations! After children make their own lantern, they will surely want to go out and study the night sky above.

I think this is a pretty cool idea if I do say so myself.


Fine metal sandpaper, fine metal file, pliers, small hammer, metal punch, nail (hard to see in photo), yellow colored pencil, wire cutters and a pair of protective eye wear.

P.S. I made the star on the wall by cutting it out from a aluminum beer can.

How to:

Clean the can and remove the label. Recommended can sizes: 16 oz. cans can be used but I prefer to use 28 oz. cans.

You will want to freeze water in the can or stuff it with newspaper to provide support while making holes.

If you don’t want to wait for water to freeze, tightly roll up newspaper and put the roll in the can. Then squeeze in more newspaper along the side until you can’t add anymore.

Use star maps to draw star constellation patterns on a piece of paper. Or you can save yourself the trouble and use the constellation guides that I created and sized especially for this project.

Constellation Guides (19):*

Aquarius, Aries, Cancer, Capricornus, Cassiopia, Cygnus, Gemini, Hercules, Leo, Lyra, Orion, Pegasus, Perseus, Pieces, Sagittarius, Scorpius, Taurus, Ursa Major, and Virgo.

*Because it takes a tremendous amount of time for me to develop projects like this, design and draw a pattern (s), test ideas, make, take pictures, edit pictures, write the how to, etc… I’m asking for a mere 2 dollars (see side donation button for quick payment with Paypal or mail a check). Send me an e-mail ( and I’ll send you easy to print pdf files with the patterns in two sizes (large and small).

Here is a sample constellation: Hercules Guide

Print out the constellation and tape the guide onto the outside of the can. Decide on the size guide you want to use. Both guides will work on the two size cans recommended above (because both cans are about 4 inches high.) However, some constellations look better in the smaller format because they fit better on the front of the can: opposed to wrapping around the can. You decide.

This is the fun part! Use a nail or a metal punch to make holes as marked on your guide. Note: you should make bigger holes where there are bigger dots -small holes for small dots. Using nails would be more appropriate for children. Regardless, adult supervision is required for this part. Add another constellation on the other side of the can.

Don’t forget to add holes near the top for adding a handle later. They should be opposite each-other.

Use a fine metal file to file down the rough edges inside the can. Have an adult do this step. If you skip this step, be careful because it can scratch.

Go outside and paint your Can Constellation Lantern. Use black, navy blue or dark purple. Honestly, I think that any darkish color would be great: red, orange, green. This is a good project for left-over paint. Putting to use someone’s leftovers is better for the environment then just buying new so check your local re-store for inexpensive options. I used some left-over black spray paint. Let dry.

Use a straight edge and a yellow colored pencil to connect the dots as shown on the guide.

This is a close-up of the can constellation Hercules

Make a wire handle if you like. I used scrap electrical wire. Ask an electrician for scraps.

Illuminate your stars by putting a votive inside, a battery powered votive or use a flashlight. Only use a votive if it is properly supervised by an adult.

This is one of the holders I made for a children’s ”green” gift making winter workshop recently. The holder (A.) is made with three boards that are nailed together: shown in the picture. Miscellaneous scrap sticks (B.)of different sizes are removable and are switched to accommodate various can sizes.

Wouldn’t it be fun to take your can constellation lanterns to the beach on a warm summer evening for an evening of stargazing?

Enter to win this lantern here!