Category Archives: seasonal: spring

Mossy Landscape Terrariums

Mossy landscapeTerrariums

Make your own beautiful mossy landscape terrariums. The fun is truly in the making.

Spend some time outside. Ethically harvest some moss and other small plants. Stones, shells and even small pieces of bark can look very nice in your landscape. To start, mound some potting soil or garden soil on a dish or tray of your choosing. Arrange moss to the desired effect. Add embellishments like a stone or an acorn. Cover with a glass cloche.


This one has a stone path.

I love this tree-clubmoss (Dendrolycopodium obscurum) that grows on my property!


This one has an empty snail shell that I found in my garden.


I made these cloches from glass juice jugs that I cut the bottoms off. I will give instructions on that another time.


Remember to lift the glass and mist your mini landscape from time to time. Place in indirect sunlight.

Partridge berry Michella repens plant

I also like to use a little plant with red berries called partridge berry (Mitchella repens) and it can be found locally and grows nicely in terrariums like these. Here is what the plant looks like.

Raising A Spring Peeper: Tadpole to Frog

Spring Peeper tiny New on finger

Watching the transformation from tadpole to frog is so fun to watch. I’ve been raising different kinds of frogs for a while now but this was my first spring peeper. The egg that I was lucky enough to find was super tiny. I found it in a roadside ditch filled with water. It was an area near my house that I’ve seen (and heard!) adult spring peepers during breeding season. This is between February and June. They lay eggs individually and attach them to submerged aquatic vegetation. This is in contrast to other frogs of Maryland that lay their eggs in clumps or strands.Spring Peeper Tiney Tadpole Here you can see the tiny tadpole (above) and when it got a little bigger (below).

Spring Peeper Tadpole No LegsNo legs yet.Spring Peeper Back Legs

Back legs!Spring Peeper RaisingA frog raising container can be anything with a wide mouth. What I mean is that you don’t want something shaped like a glass. You want something with proportionally more surface area. This baking dish worked well.Spring Peeper FeedingIf the lettuce that you are feeding your tadpole(s) starts to rot, take it out. Add fresh food.

Add small pieces of lettuce at a time to prevent soiling the water.

Change out half of the water in the container as needed. Usually every other day but more frequently as they grow and if you have multiple frogs. Replace the water with clean room temperature water. Make sure you don’t add water with bleach in it.

Use a turkey baster to suck up the nasty water and feces that accumulates at the bottom of the container.

Spring Peeper Legs N TailThis spring peeper crawled out of the water. Make sure you have a cover on your container when they start growing legs. You don’t want them to get lost in your house. Spring Peeper Shrinking TailThis frog is absorbing its tail.Spring Peeper Absorbed TailGoing going gone!

Here is the link to my post on raising green tree frogs. Here you will find more tips on raising small frogs.

I hope this post has inspired you to want to raise your own frogs. Best of luck.


Raise Your Own Caterpillars For The Fun Of It: Snowberry Clearwing Moths

I found this snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) caterpillar on my deck last fall (the end of August). It had been feeding on my native honeysuckle plant (Lonicera sempervirens). It soon pupated. To simulate winter, I put it (the cocoon) in a jar in my refrigerator. In the spring I took it out. In early April it emerged! Snowberry Clearwing on Honeysuckle plant

feeding on my native honeysuckle plant (Lonicera sempervirens)


I love the way its back end looks like a dog!SnowberryClearwingStretchO

all stretched out!SnowberryClearwingCaterpillarPupaO

This is how it survives the winter.



Here it is getting its wings ready for first flight.


Almost ready to fly!SnowberryClearwingMothSizeO

This picture gives a size reference. Amazing!

Tips to Successfully Raise Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillars Or Any Others You Can Find

Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar

I think it is so much fun to find an interesting caterpillar especially one I’ve never seen before. Equally fun is seeing what it will turn into. I started raising caterpillars when my kids were small but have been doing it much more frequently in the last few years.

Here are some tips that might help you.

First you have to find a caterpillar. Go on: go out and look.

See my post:

Here is a Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar that I found and successfully raised.

You might want to know what you have found. I use -Caterpillars of Eastern North America by David Wagner.

Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar with Osmeterium extended

The Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar in this picture has its osmeterium extended. It is supposed to deter predators.

It is best when you find the caterpillar munching on a leaf: that way you know exactly what to feed it. If not, you will have to identify it then do some research to find out what food to supply it. (See suggested book above or search the internet).

Spice Jar 4 Raising Caterpillars

Provide fresh food as needed. I like to place a branch or some leaves in a jar of water to keep the plant fresh.

Prevent drowning. Believe it or not, caterpillars aren’t water smart. They will walk right down a stem into a vase of water and drown. I don’t know why they just don’t walk backwards up the stem and out of the water. To prevent this tragedy, you will need to choose small necked jars and fill the opening with stems, plastic wrap or even a bit of cork. I find that spice jars work really well. Fill the holes with leaves or branches of the host plant. I’ve been able to reuse spice jars that have different sized holes. Some tops have small holes and others have larger holes. Choose what works for the plant you are providing.

Zebra Swallowtail begins to Pupate

Here it is forming it’s chrysalis.

Zebra Swallowtail Chrysalis

Zebra Swallowtail Chrysalis other side

I think the chrysalis of a Zebra Swallowtail looks like a mummified cat.

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly in Cage

Here it is the day it came out of the chrysalis.

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly Free

Here it is high in a tree after we set it free. I had to use a ladder to get this picture but it was worth it.

Insectabox With Luna Moth Caterpillars

Rearing box with Luna moth caterpillars.

Use a rearing cage. It is important that you keep your caterpillar friend in a cage of some sort. I’ve had caterpillars venture off somewhere in my house never to be seen again. I like to think that they metamorphosed and eventually flew away.

Recently I bought an Insectabox and love it. It is very well designed. Here is a link.

Here is the link for my homemade box that I’ve used for over 10 years.

You might also be interested in this post:


Hunting for Zebra Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars

Make your own fun. Go out and hunt for zebra swallowtail butterfly caterpillars on pawpaw trees! You will first need to find pawpaw trees: Asimina triloba . Here in Southern Maryland, they are common in damp forests.(See pictures below)

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly Eggs

The eggs look like tiny pearls.

Pawpaw Tree Leaf

Pawpaw leaves usually get wider towards the tip and this reminds me of a stylized puppy dog’s ears. This might help you remember the name pawpaw because dogs have paws.

Pawpaw Asimina-triloba Fruit

Pawpaws have edible fruit.

Pawpaw tree flowers Asimina triloba

Pawpaws have beautiful maroon flowers.

Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar on pawpaw

Here is a zebra swallowtail caterpillar on a pawpaw leaf.

Found Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar small

Be sure to look closely. Check the underside of leaves because that is where they usually are hiding.

Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar

So exciting when you find one!

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly

The adult zebra swallowtail butterfly.

Pawpaw trees can be found growing in the following states: AL, AR, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, WV.