Wasp vs. grasshopper

Wasp and grasshopper

Our yard continues to turn up interesting and surprising inhabitants. On Sunday, Jennifer discovered a couple of great golden digger wasps (Sphex ichneumoneus), and managed to get some pictures. Above, one of these wasps is doing what great golden digger wasps are known for: capturing an insect — in this case, a grasshopper — and paralyzing it, before dragging it back to one of her burrows. There, she will lay an egg on the hapless creature, which will serve as food for the larva once it hatches.

Her photos of another wasp feeding at the oregano flowers turned out a little better, but you have to admit that catching a wasp catching a grasshopper for gruesome purposes is way cooler.

Blanding’s Turtle habitat threatened in Kanata

A road project in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata may threaten a population of Blanding’s Turtles in the area, the Ottawa Citizen reports; herpetologists are using frankly apocalyptic language to describe the impact of the Terry Fox Drive extension on the local turtles. There’s a rush on to get the extension built before March 2011 to qualify for federal stimulus funding. On the other hand, the turtles, which are listed as a threatened species, should come under the protection of the provincial Endangered Species Act, under which destroying habitat is a distinct no-no.

Here’s a map of the Terry Fox Drive extension:

The area inside the road’s arc will be developed; outside the arc, the land will be left in its natural state.

Blanding's Turtle at Mud Lake Ottawa is a surprisingly good place for turtles, which are still found in awfully built-up areas of the city (see, for example, Michelle Tribe’s photo of a Blanding’s Turtle at Mud Lake, right). They also get quite a bit of positive press, thanks in no small part to a local turtle rescue that pioneered the use of turtle crossing signs. Hopefully, road mortality won’t wipe them out — which is precisely the worry about the Terry Fox Drive extension.

Update, Nov. 25 at 6:05 PM:

Yesterday’s Citizen suggests that the project is going to go ahead anyway, with much mitigation work promised.

The $47.7-million Terry Fox Drive extension should go ahead next spring, despite concerns raised over the threatened Blanding’s turtle, said Kanata North Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, whose ward includes the proposed project. …
“The road is already needed. The road is going to come anyways. Is waiting two years going to make a difference? I suspect not,” Wilkinson said. “If they do that, that will cost the city $46 million because we will not get the federal and provincial money. We lose the funding, we still get the road.”

So apparently it’s a fait accompli, even before construction begins — and this in a city that takes decades to build anything. (How come interprovincial bridges and light rail don’t work this quickly?)

Bill 184 and herps in captivity: a first approximation

This entry is about the potential impact of Bill 184, An Act to protect species at risk and to make related changes to other Acts, which was introduced yesterday in the Ontario Legislature, on the keeping of native reptiles and amphibians in captivity in that province. Some of what follows may have application beyond that, but bear in mind that my focus is deliberately limited.

Bill 184 does affect the legality of keeping native reptiles and amphibians in captivity in Ontario, especially if the species in question are listed as endangered, threatened or, to a lesser extent, species of special concern on the list of Ontario’s species at risk. In general, the new Act parallels the existing prohibitions and requirements of the current Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 (1997, c. 41), but is more restrictive on several points.

The text of the bill is available online as a PDF file. Follow along as I go through some of the details.

But before I go on, a disclaimer: this is based on a quick first look. And, while I’ve worked as a paralegal and am comfortable looking at legislation, I am not a lawyer and anything I could say about this bill could be totally wrong. Don’t base any decisions on what I write here.

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