Daggers, Spiders, and A Leaf

Although it’s in the upper eighties as I write this, it’s fall, and fall things are happening. Caterpillars are crawling off to form cocoons in which to pupate over winter, orb weavers are constructing webs seemingly everywhere you turn, and leaves are morphing to shades that dazzle the eye. The last time I saw an American dagger moth caterpillar was in September of 2016 here at the Museum. I saw three daggers just this week (10/10/17). The dagger moths areRead more

The Ladies

Painted lady butterflies (above) are southwestern in origin. They apparently move northward each year and may do so in large numbers in some years. They are irruptive migrants and it’s thought their migrations are weather related, e.g., El Nino. I’ve seen several in the past week. Painted ladies (Vanessa cardui) may be confused with a more local butterfly within the same genus, American lady (Vanessa virginiensis). American ladies show a white spot in a larger orange rectangular spot on their forewingsRead more

Red Wolves Howl

The banner photo (top) illustrates what happens when emergency vehicles pass by the Museum, whether near or far, it’s a family howl. If you look carefully you’ll notice there are five wolves. We have six red wolves. Where’s the other pup? The missing pup is at the top of the enclosure’s ridge listening to what’s going on. She quickly joins the rest of the pack. If you’ll look below, you can count 6 wolves howling together. Below, a parting shotRead more

Looking For Frogs?

For you herpetologists out there, there are still frogs to be seen here at the Museum. That’s not to say that you can’t see frogs here in any month of the year, you can. I’ve seen bullfrogs at the edge of the water while there was ice covering our wetland! They are, however, much more difficult to locate during the cold months and many species are dug into the ground or leaf liter of the forest in late fall andRead more

Three Caterpillars

I’ve had more than a few encounters with caterpillars the past week or two. Here, I’ve photos of three of them. First, the delicate cycnia (Cycnia tenera). It’s common enough and may be seen from June to October in our area. If you have dogbane growing in your immediate area, give a look, you may have either the caterpillars munching on the plant or adults mating or laying eggs on the underside of the leaves. The adults may be seenRead more

Datana in the Birch

It’s caterpillar time. Although you can see caterpillars munching and crawling about the landscape from March to October, now is the time when you’ll encounter more of them in both numbers of individuals and diversity of species. Daily, people approach me with smartphone images, or even live caterpillars in their hands, asking “what is this?” Sometimes I know what it is, other times I don’t. Fortunately, if I don’t immediately recognize what it is they hold in their hands or haveRead more

18 Weeks

Today is week 18 since the red wolf pups were born here at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham NC. They’re growing rapidly and are very comfortable in their habitat. In fact, they’re so comfortable that they’ve taken over many of the male’s (dad) favorite sunning, cooling, and sleeping spots in the enclosure. One big happy family.Read more

What You Could See…

Pictures often say so much more than words can. That’s why I’ve put together the following two dozen images of both plant and plant users (Lepidoptera and one Araneae) that you can find right here at the Museum. You may have to look a little closer than you may be accustomed to, but they’re here. Let’s start with the Araneae. The wolf spider below has captured something, and though it’s difficult to tell exactly what that something is, it looksRead more

Tangled Webs

As the seasons move toward autumn, fall webworms are becoming more visible in the local trees and shrubs. They seem to be everywhere. They’re in many different species of tree including redbud, elm, mulberry, ash, and maple to name a few. They don’t seem particular about what type of tree leaf they eat. One resource has them listed as consuming the leaves of 400 species of woody plant (trees and shrubs). The small moth larvae’s silken webs cover the leaves asRead more