The Wasp and the Caterpillar

Top Photo: caterpillar lying on its side next to burrow entrance. As I walked past the Pollinator Garden which is just above the Butterfly House Rain Garden, I notice a green object hurriedly angling across the path. It looked like a caterpillar, but it had an odd movement, a side to side wiggle, and speed which most caterpillars don’t display while moving along the ground, or anywhere else. There are a handful of swift moving caterpillars, but none quite thisRead more

Black Swallowtail and Apiaceae

Top Photo: Black swallowtail caterpillar on carrot. Along with the monarch butterfly caterpillar, the black swallowtail is one of the most familiar butterfly caterpillars. Anyone who has grown carrots, parsley, fennel, or any other plant in the Apiaceae family of plants has, at one time or another, had the black, yellow, and green caterpillars happily devouring the plants before their eyes. Many people, myself included, plant parsley or fennel specifically to attract the butterflies and watch them go through theirRead more

Three Quick Photos

Top Photo: Common checkered-skipper ready to spread it wings. Although this small butterfly, the common checkered-skipper, is flying from March to November somewhere in North Carolina, they’re most often seen here at the museum in September and October. They’re swift flyers. Seconds after perching they tend to open their wings to reveal the checkered pattern for which they’re named. If you see one silvery checkerspot (below), you may see another since they tend to be somewhat colonial. I look forRead more

Long-tailed Skipper

Top Photo: Long-tailed skipper rests between visits to flowers. Long-tailed skipper is a southern species of butterfly which moves north following breeding each year. Sometimes, they make it all the way to the northeastern states in fall. Butterfly enthusiasts would be all a-flutter should a long-tailed skipper show up on a fall-blooming flower in September in, say, Cape Cod, MA or even Cape May, NJ. I remember one occasion when a long-tailed skipper was spotted at a rural mailbox withRead more

Oakworms, Again.

TOP PHOTO: Early instar orange-striped oakworm caterpillars go to work on red oak leaves. It’s that time of year again when oakworms do their best to defoliate the red and willow oaks here at the museum. There may be thousands of these voracious moth larvae in the oak trees here at the museum but they never do as much damage as to harm the trees in any great manner. The trees seem to thrive regardless of the devouring hordes ofRead more

What’s Out There?

Top Photo: Great blue skimmer with prey. In one rather quick trip around the outdoor loop here at the museum I came upon a good bunch of interesting sights. In no particular order, here’s some of them. There are banana trees planted at several locations throughout the museum’s outdoor areas. The one pictured is in the garden next to Sprouts Cafe. Pomegranate is growing next to the bananas. Along the edge of that same garden I spotted a banded longhornRead 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

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