Growing My Own Oyster Mushrooms

My good friend John Pojman sent me this box of grow-it-yourself oyster-mushroom-spore-inoculated sawdust for Christmas!  (I know, I should probably have posted this back then, but it's not a time-dependent post since they're growable year-round, so I just let this post kick around my drafts section while other more pressing posts went up, and then I just forgot about it for a while!)  I am always excited to have the opportunity to grow my own mushrooms from these type of kits as they make it super simple to do.   Here's what you can look forward to if you want to do this yourself!

Arilus Cristatus, The Wheel Bug

Hey, hey, I finally got to see another beneficial insect on my porch right before hauling my plants in for the winter!  This time, it was Arilus cristatus, the wheel bug.  As their ridged back portends, they are a type of assassin bug which in both its larval and adult stages preys upon aphids, caterpillars, and beetles - including my very common fall pest, the stink bug.  If manhandled, they can bite painfully but they are not aggressive and this fellow somewhat unwillingly posed for me for several minutes before flying off when I got the camera lens just a little too close.  As I was planning on bringing in my plants later that afternoon, I was OK with having scared it away temporarily; I don't think it'd be able to survive overwintering in my house.  Hopefully it'll return, though, to guard my sempervivum and sedum which spend the winter outdoors.