Nocturnal Critters and Bugs

There is an interesting phenomenon where someone installs a security camera for the first time. A week later, they are alarmed to discover that people are walking through their yard at night and at 1 am every morning a cat sits on the back steps of their house. They post videos to the Nextdoor and Neighbors apps, inquiring about the errant trespassers. Unbeknownst to them, people have been walking through their yard for years because it is a convenient route to get from the basketball court in the city park to the nearest bus stop. And the cat, well, it lives three doors down at the Hendersons and visits every house in the neighborhood.

Most people are unaware of what is going on around them at night because they have their windows closed tight and are night-blinded and night-deafened by their TVs, laptops, or phones. Twenty or so years ago, after our house was burgled for the first time, I approached our neighbors, who we were already on good terms with, about the event. I learned from them that a lot goes on at night when we are sleeping or when we are away from our homes. I learned it was worthwhile for me to keep in contact with them and to pay attention to the comings and goings of people, particularly when we were asleep or away at work or on a trip.

I have several cameras located around our property. I use them because I am curious about what goes on when I am not present to observe. Below are a few videos from those cameras. None involve criminal activity, thankfully, and, instead, feature various animals and bugs.


A raccoon (Procyon lotor) using a tree to climb down from our fence. I’m always impressed with the climbing ability of raccoons.


A centipede (Chilopoda) crawling on the wall next to a camera in our garage.


A spider traversing its web.


A mouse exploring in the garage. This mouse could be the non-native house mouse (Mus musculus), native western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis), or even a native eastern deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus). While I think mice are cute, I’m not sufficiently interested to positively identify them. Besides, by the time I can examine them, Lizzie has mangled them.

Flowerpot Riparium continued

None of my aquarium projects ever proceed with any swiftness. After I assembled everything, I partially filled the flowerpot with water. After a week with no leakage, I added more water. I kept adding water every week until the pot was filled to the level I wanted it at. Then it sprang a leak!

I was in the work room in our basement when I felt water dripping on me. Looking up, I saw water dripping from an electric wire strung through the joists of the floor above me. I ran upstairs to discover a puddle of water under the flowerpot. After four weeks of leak testing, the flowerpot had sprung a leak. This necessitated another delay since I had to empty the flowerpot, let it thoroughly dry, and then seal the leak.

Finally, after leak testing for another month, I was ready to add the plants. By this time, however, the upright philodendron (Thaumatophyllum) had grown quite a bit which required me to trim it down so it would fit in its flowerpot.

Riparium with upright philodendron and duckweed
Riparium with upright philodendron and duckweed

After four months in the riparium, the philodendron doing well as is the duckweed (Lemna minor).

Riparium with upright philodendron and duckweed
Riparium with upright philodendron and duckweed

I have this in our dining room which does not get enough light for plants to grow well. For additional light, I am using an Intpro LED light inside a basket. I couldn’t find a lampshade that would fit over the LED light so I resorted to using a basket. It is almost too heavy for the lamp stand, so I placed a brick on the lamp stand base to keep it from tipping over. I have the lamp plugged into a ESP8285 smart plug that I flashed with Tasmota. The smart plug is connected to Apple Homekit via Homebridge I have running on a Raspberry Pi. This allows me to set a schedule for the light while also allowing us to turn the light on/off from our iPhones. Low tech with high tech.

All that is left to do is add guppies (Poecilia reticulata). When I checked the water last week, there was no detectable ammonia or nitrite but the nitrate was at 80 ppm. Water hardness and pH were right where I want them to be. Once the nitrate level drops to 40 ppm or less, I’ll add guppies.