The Littlest Lizard

Top Photo: Ground skink with regenerated tail. Ground skinks are the smallest lizard found on the museum’s grounds. In fact, they’re the smallest lizard found anywhere in the state (about 3” – 6” of mostly tail). The tail is as long as, or longer than, the body. They have short legs. They tend to wriggle snake-like, more than run, when fleeing. Perhaps more often heard slithering off through the dried leaf liter than seen, they were, until this past year,Read more

More Fall

Top Photo: Juvenile northern mockingbird perched in rain garden shrubbery. The juvenile northern mockingbird pictured here is perched on the white-berried variety of the native American beautyberry. The bird’s parent was in the next shrub loudly calling schek, schek, schek as it watched the younger bird pick through the berries of the shrub. The overall brownish hue and spots on its breast, and the light colored gape (corner of mouth or bill) easily mark this bird as a juvenile. CertainRead more

Garden Watch

Top Photo: Goldenrod in bloom at Wander Away. Visiting a garden at this time of year can be very rewarding. Goldenrod likes to wait until September or later to bloom, and like boneset mentioned in the previous post, has tiny blossoms which attract big crowds. Butterflies, bees and wasps are too busy sucking up nectar to pay much attention to naturalists who stare at them while they refuel. If you’re patient, and you’re taking pictures, you may end up withRead more

Solitary Sandpiper

Top Photo: Solitary sandpiper feeds on north side of wetlands. The only shorebirds I’ve seen here at the museum are spotted sandpiper, killdeer and solitary sandpiper. Both spotted and solitary drop in on their respective ways north and south while migrating. I don’t see them every year. They’re more likely to stop in when the water’s low enough to expose mud along the edges of the pond. Though I have viewed them each briefly when the only thing above waterRead more

Fall

Top Photo: A female monarch butterfly sips nectar from sunflower. Fall is here. It’s September and fall is all around us. Birds and butterflies are migrating, late season flowers are blooming, seeds are nearly ready to cut loose into the wind, and fruit is on the vine. It’s even a bit cooler outside than it’s been the past few weeks. Here’s a group of photos of what’s going on outside, in case you missed it because of the heat. AnRead more

A Pair of Wasps?

Top Photo: A mating pair of insects The pair drifted down to the ground from a nearby shrub. Superficially, they looked like wasps, paper wasps. But I could see right away there was something different about them which wasn’t quite wasp-like. But as it so often happens when you’re trying to capture a fleeting moment on camera, the eye stays on the viewfinder, positive IDs can wait till later. The two were locked into mating and appeared to be tryingRead more

Robber Flies

Top Photo: Giant robber fly Some call them assassin flies. I first learned of them as robber flies. Whatever you call them, they’re predatory flies which perch out in the open, often near areas with heavy insect traffic in order to wait in ambush to snatch other insects out of the air. Visit a flowering group of Tithonia, milkweed, Joe Pye weed, or other rich nectar source with insects busily flying from flower to flower and you might see oneRead more

Needle Ant

Top Photo: Asian needle ant (Brachyponera chinensis). Depending upon who you reference, there are somewhere around 10,000 to 12,000 known species of ant in the world. New species are still being discovered. There’s an estimated total of some 20,000 species including what has yet to be described. The number 1,000 is most often returned in searches for North American species. And it seems 192 species is the most recently calculated number for North Carolina. I have no idea how manyRead more

Lacewing

Top Photo: Green lacewing egg on leatherleaf viburnum. While standing next to a leatherleaf viburnum near the Sandbox in Gateway Park, I took a close look at the leaves of the shrub, you never know what you’ll find, getting up close to vegetation. To my surprise I spotted two green lacewing eggs. There was one egg on two separate leaves several inches apart. I’ve seen lacewing eggs before, but perhaps only once here at the museum. Most descriptions of lacewingsRead more

Eating Elm

Top Photo: Larger elm leaf beetle larva feeding on elm leaves. Back at the end of May, we Rangers discovered many adult, larger elm leaf beetles on the far side of the museum’s outdoor loop between Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind. The beetles were all down low on the vegetation and boulders that line the path in that area. The insects weren’t eating but slowly walking about on the rocks and mostly poison ivy leaves, presumably to findRead more