The Changing Environment and Chronolog

Top Photo: Wetlands in summer. If you haven’t been to the museum’s wetlands in a while (let’s face, not many people have since this past March) and you miss it, here’s a few shots of what it looks like now. Back in March the deciduous trees were just beginning to leaf and aside from the needles of the loblolly pines the scape was shades of grays and browns. Now it’s full of color with the black willows, redwoods, cypress, maples,Read more

A Poke, a Grab, and a Click

Top Photo: pokeweed raceme with flowers and unripe fruit. Pokeweed is a native, eastern North American plant. It grows in undisturbed areas. Its main stalk, stems and even flower racemes are shades of purple-red, boysenberry to magenta in color. It can grow more than six feet in height. It’s one of my favorite weeds. The entire plant is listed as toxic. But, I’ve read where the deep purple berries can be made into jam after the seeds are removed. InRead more

Northen Watersnake vs Copperhead (Revisited)

It’s summertime and snakes are active. This is a repeat of a previous post from May of 2013 to refresh your memory on the identification of two common snakes in our area, both residents here at the museum. It’s almost a daily occurrence, I’d be watching a water snake coiled up and snoozing in the grass on the north side of the Wetlands, point the snake out to someone passing by and they’d say, “That looks like a Copperhead,” or, “IsRead more

Interesting Sightings Around the Loop

Top Photo: Dogbane beetle. While out on the trail I’m often asked, “see anything interesting today?” or “see anything cool?” The short answer is always “yes.” The truth is, every time I go outside I see something interesting, and it’s all cool. In order to see things, though, you have to be where things are, and you have to look. Part of it is knowing what to look for but it’s mostly just being aware of your surroundings. Like clockwork,Read more

A Trip Outdoors

Top Photo: Rudbeckia as part of the new “Prairie” in Catch the Wind. Life goes on along the outdoor loop through Catch the Wind, Explore the Wild, and the Dinosaur Trail. Here’s some of what’s happening out there. The tiny fruit of autumn olive is ripening. Though a non-native plant, the fruit is edible and has a sweet-tart taste. You should hold off on picking and eating until it ripens. When the fruit turns red with whitish speckles, that’s theRead more

Two Exotics

Passion flower, or passion vine, is a fast growing vine native to the south east. It climbs, but doesn’t need to in order to bloom. I often find it sprawled along the ground hidden by the local weeds of the season, the flower peeking out from behind a mass of greenery. Its showy flower is edible. It’s visited by bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds. To my eye, passion flower looks primordial, otherworldly, certainly tropical. Actually, most species of passion vineRead more

Two Odonates

Sometimes, you just get lucky. The two species of Odonata pictured here are not often seen in or around our wetland. One prefers stream habitat, the other ponds and lakes near meadows or weedy fields. The green-bodied damselfly with black wings is an ebony jewelwing. They’re more likely to be seen along a wooded stream than the shores of our wetland. Perhaps it wandered over from Ellerbe Creek which flows through the west side of the museum property. They are,Read more

Confusing Butterflies

Top Photo: Pearl crescents mate. There are two small, orange and black butterflies in our area that are very similar in appearance and may easily be confused with one another. I’ve gotten them mixed up on more than one occasion. As mentioned, both are orange and black, both fly low to the ground and both can be found in the same habitat, though one prefers wetter areas. First, a warning, the butterflies are variable in pattern and coloration. They don’tRead more

Some Early Summer Sights

Top Photo: Purple coneflower in front of Picnic Dome at Museum of Life & Science. Purple coneflower is in full bloom. This flower attracts many insects. It’s a rewarding experience to visit a planting of coneflower. Lots of different butterfly species come to coneflower for its nectar, and goldfinches can’t resist the seeds. Coneflower likes sun, can handle the heat and will tolerate a forgetful gardener’s lack of watering, so you can’t lose by planting these 3 foot tall flowersRead more

What’s Happening on the Outdoor Loop

Top Photo: The Wetlands in summer. If you’re familiar with the museum’s outdoor loop through Catch the Wind and Explore the Wild, you may be happy to know that life goes on as it always has in the past. There are, though, a few changes around the bend. Here, a few familiar sights and a few behind the scenes sneak previews. Shrubby St. John’s wort is in bloom, as it is each year at this time. The 4 foot tallRead more