Hiking tips

Bob Henke column: Q+A, with advice on dogwood and bees | Outside

I am continually amazed at how tools can hide so effectively. I’m not talking about the really lost stuff, like the time my son used my brand new metric sockets on a sled and then dropped them where he ended up. It snowed overnight and in the morning I wondered why the snowblower kept knocking “rocks” into the driveway. Turns out the old Gravely was tossing the entire set, one at a time, about 50 feet into the woods. Finding them in the spring involved hiking while dragging a powerful magnet.

But I’m thinking more of the daily disappearances. For example, today I was working on the lawn mower. Simple tricks, sharpening and balancing the blades. After a trip to the cellar to use the grinder and balancer, I came back to reinstall the blades and like magic the deep socket had popped off the ratchet handle and was completely gone. It took 15 minutes of dedicated search to finally locate the bright, shiny 4-inch-long socket located in the short grass directly below the lawn mower. Surprising.

People also read…

What’s even more amazing is a trend I’ve seen lately in stores and hardware stores – camouflage-colored tools. It’s so easy to lose something, why on earth would you deliberately make it harder to find? Maybe it appeals to people who never really need to use the tools they acquire. Almost as confusing are those done in fiery orange camouflage. These may be slightly easier to find, but the coloring completely obscures the socket size etched into the side of the socket, so choosing the right one is by eye, trial and error. This might be the same guy who came up with the good recycling trick in the next question.

Why not put good ecological advice in your columns? Like I heard about putting all your plastic stuff in one water bottle. If you stuff hard and cut things that don’t fit like old credit cards, you can put a few pounds of stuff in there before taking it to the recycling center (where you also save space). Be part of the solution by posting things like this.

A hummingbird is the star guest of this week’s sightings.

Very commendable, but I don’t think putting a mix of different recycling categories with a bunch of plastics that can’t be recycled in a bottle is going to help much. I can’t imagine a recycling center paying someone to open your bottle and sort out all the debris inside. It will most likely go straight into the non-recyclable waste and head to a landfill. If I had to post a piece of advice, it would be something like – 2.5 million plastic water bottles are thrown away PER HOUR worldwide. How about grabbing a drink and hitting the tap for your drink? The vast majority of bottled water comes from the domestic water supply anyway.

How to identify dogwood?

This is a harder question than you might imagine because there are several plants you could be looking at. If we are talking about a tree, then you are interested in the Eastern Flowering Dogwood, a tree native to eastern North America and northern Mexico. It is also called American dogwood, Florida dogwood, Indian arrowwood (still used for this purpose), cornelian, white dogwood, white dogwood and false boxwood. There are a few subspecies and a whole bunch of cultivars, mostly bred for their flowers, which are bracts, not petals. In some trees, the tips are red, symbolizing the crucifixion for some people. It is often planted on church properties.

If, on the other hand, you’re referring to some of the many bushes growing on the side of the road, you still have a few choices. Two are the most common in this area. The first is known as gray dogwood. Native to Northeast and Lower Canada, they form patches of very dense shrubbery that provide excellent nesting habitat for songbirds. The bark is gray, hence their name, but they are best identified by their fruit.

Gray dogwood berries are bright white with a small black spot at the base. The stems of the berries are bright red. This contrasts somewhat with the other most common dogwood here, red osier. Also a dense shrub and a good habitat for wildlife, red dogwood produces similar white berries, a little smaller than the gray ones, and the stems are grey/green. However, the stems and branches are bright red, extremely eye-catching against the snow in winter. There are also a dozen less common members of the dogwood family in the United States.

I have noticed that there are sometimes somewhat “blue” comments hidden in your columns either in the sentences themselves or in the images. This image of hickory gall was classic.

I assume you mean blue in the lustful sense as opposed to a political statement, but I am nonetheless hurt to think that you find my vigorously non-fiction renderings to be suggestive in either sense. That said, I’m somewhat confused as to the suggestiveness of a pocket gall. If I was talking about a hackberry nipple gall or something, I could understand the confusion.

I am Amanda. Why do bees buzz when they fly?

Wow Amanda, what a great question! As usual with things in nature, there is more than one answer. The first is purely mechanical. I used to ride in helicopters with a guy who had been a combat pilot in Vietnam. He liked to say that helicopters didn’t really fly; they just beat the air into submission. You could almost say the same thing about most insect flights. With the exception of butterflies and moths, which glide a lot on large, flexible wings, most others, even some of the most acrobatic and fast-moving dragonflies, depend on the very rapid movement of relatively narrow wings to generate sufficient lift. to fly. This rapid flutter moves the air in a series of small but strong, continuous waves and it is this vibration that we perceive as a “buzz”.

So the first part of the answer is simply mechanical. However, for many species, this communication opportunity is too good to pass up. As a beekeeper, I know that when I hear the buzzing grow louder, I’ve done something wrong and some girls get offended. Bees don’t have ears but they still sense vibrations and the higher tone means “watch out, there might be something to sting!” The same is true for many other insects.

That annoying high-pitched sound of a mosquito flying in the dark in our bedroom is the normal result of its wing flapping while searching for someone to bite. Outdoors, when male and female mosquitoes seek a mate, they swing their wings and change speed to change the pitch. When two find that their tones are exactly the same, they can find themselves in the mass of other mosquitoes walking around. This is how mosquitoes find their ideal companion.

I know a little something about it. …

Bob Henke writes a weekly outdoor column for The Post Star.