Field journal: Spiders of the Oculus

Yesterday afternoon, after the rain stopped, I made a quick trip to the Oculus—the long-abandoned space-age modernist pavilion near the foot of the Humber Trail. And within a minute’s walk along the trail in either direction, I found more spider diversity than I ever find in my usual sites! Continue reading Field journal: Spiders of the Oculus

Know Your Little Red Mites: A Guide

Infographic with illustrations and descriptions of four common red-coloured mites
The infographic version. Click for a full-sized image.

To the casual observer, many mites are just mysterious little red dots. Gardeners and farmers will be familiar with the spider mite family, Tetranychidae. These mites are plant-eaters, and many are major agricultural pests worldwide.

But there are so many other kinds of mites—more than you know. More than I know! More than even acarologists (mite scientists) know. They have described about 50,000 species, but they think there are probably at least a million in total.1 If you take a closer look at the little red dots running around, you can find many different kinds, occupying many different ecological niches, all unique and delightful to watch. Continue reading Know Your Little Red Mites: A Guide

Some Mastodon server recommendations

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(Expanding on this viral post and this thread.)

So an obnoxious billionaire just bought Twitter, and a lot of people are signing up (or reviving their accounts) on the “flagship” servers, or But you have more options! Continue reading Some Mastodon server recommendations

Field journal: First spiders of spring in Trinity-Bellwoods

This winter I have tried to get into the habit of getting a coffee and a pastry at the White Squirrel and going for walks around Trinity-Bellwoods, just to get out of the house. There haven’t been bugs, but there are sometimes Fancy Birds: finches (house or purple, I’m not sure), woodpeckers, and once a Cooper’s hawk. Today it was quite nice and to my surprise there were flies and midges in the air, red velvet mites crawling in the soil, and the first spiders out and about! Continue reading Field journal: First spiders of spring in Trinity-Bellwoods

City Hall Watcher #160

This issue is not just a nice round number, it also marks City Hall Watcher’s three-year anniversary, so it’s free for everyone! For this one, I talked to folks about how winter and the pandemic are pushing Toronto’s shelter system to its limits (and, yes, crunched some numbers). I also have a preview of the upcoming City Council agenda, including SafeTO, golf, moths, an Integrity Commissioner investigation, and the first 16 inclusionary zoning…zones.

Read the whole thing at City Hall Watcher.

The Week at Toronto City Hall #6

On the table at Toronto City Hall next week: Uber regulations, mini-robots, venomous snakes, a new tree emblem, the future of the ActiveTO bike lanes, 311 service levels, and more. Also, Jim Karygiannis’s campaign finance compliance audit is in. Let’s dive in!

Read the whole thing at City Hall Watcher.

The Week at Toronto City Hall #5

Note: forgot to post this when it came out >_<

Community Council week at City Hall brings lots of new developments, plus local traffic by-laws and falling walnuts. Also, the Planning & Housing Committee discusses laneway suites, the Yellowbelt, and the end of parking minimums (maybe).

Read the whole thing at City Hall Watcher.