A Caterpillar and a Salamander

Walking down the boardwalk, I noticed a dozen or so pieces of frass ahead of me on the boards. There was a branch of sweet gum tree overhanging the boardwalk directly above the frass. Several leaves had been chewed to mere skeletons. A search through the leaves revealed a large green caterpillar with red spots along its sides. It was a luna moth caterpillar and it was munching away on the leaves of the tree. I see lots of lunaRead more

First Argiope of the Season.

Whatever you call it, golden orb weaver, yellow and black garden spider, yellow and black argiope, writing spider, or zig-zag spider this large, common orb weaver is known binomially as Argiope aurantia. The one pictured has stationed itself at the Black Bear Overlook in Explore the Wild. Its a bit early in the season for this species. I usually don’t see them until fall has arrived. They’re here all summer long, just smaller and more hidden, but fall is whenRead more

Summer Pics

A sampling of sights you may witness while strolling through Catch the Wind, Explore the Wild, Hideaway Woods and the Dinosaur Trail. Ranger Martha discovered the following fungi. When perched, hairstreaks slowly rub their hind wings back and forth. This may be a way to attract attention to the rear of the butterfly to fool predators into thinking it’s the head of the insect. Note long, modified scales (false antennae) and red spot (head/eye). The butterfly pictured has damage toRead more

Another Mocha Please

The photos here are of a mocha emerald (Somatochlora linearis). It’s a dragonfly of the forest, near small shady streams. They seem to be more common near streams which dry up during summer. That habitat does occur here at the museum. I’ve only encountered mocha emeralds here on two other occasions. The first was in July of 2008 when I found a partially eaten individual on the path in Catch the Wind. I saw a live mocha in June ofRead more

Nest Box Update 8.6.19 (the final count)

All of our nest boxes are empty. Most have some sort of nest material inside of them, but they’ve not been utilized, added to or occupied in several weeks or longer. One nest box had four young bluebirds fledge today (8/6). The nest box at the Cow Pasture started out the season with chickadees. The little gray, black and white parids laid 2 eggs in the nest before house wrens took it over. The wrens raised two broods in theRead more

Nest Box Update 7.30.19

There is nest material in five of the six nest boxes on our modest bluebird trail, but only one nest is active at present. The house wrens that had occupied the nest at the Cow Pasture have flown the coop. There are now 4 more house wrens added to the local avifauna. The Explore the Wild, Into the Mist, Parking Deck (east side and west side) nest boxes are all unoccupied. There’s nest material in three of those boxes butRead more

Run Wolf Run

We have here at the museum, one adult breeding pair of red wolves, two yearling male red wolves, and six three-month old pup red wolves. Every now and then, the year-old wolves get frisky and chase each other around their enclosure. It’s often a vigorous jaunt with more than just a few circuits around the yard. The parents sometimes join in but usually don’t make it past the first lap. After all, the male is 9 years old and theRead more

Nest Box Update 7.23.19

We currently have 8 nestlings in two of our six nest boxes. Four of those are house wrens, the remainder bluebirds. Four bluebirds have fledged and a new nest started atop that nest. There are, as best as I can tell, four house wrens nestlings in the nest box at the Cow Pasture near the Ellerbe Creek Railway Tunnel. There had been five eggs in the nest but as you can see from the photo, it appears only four hatched.Read more

Catalpa Worms

I’d been waiting for them to appear since the first leaves of the catalpa tree began to sprout earlier in the season. I finally noticed their handiwork on the 18th of June. The large, long-stalked, heart-shaped leaves of the tree were becoming mere skeletons (top photo, 6/18). When I discovered the caterpillars they were about 1/2” long and feeding gregariously with their siblings. They had the potential of reaching 3” in length. They were the larvae of the catalpa sphinxRead more

Nest Box Update 7.9.19

There are now, as there was last week, three active nests. Two have eggs and one is occupied by four nearly ready to fledge bluebirds. The house wren nest at the Cow Pasture still has five eggs. I heard an adult calling in the nearby brush as I approached the nest box so it’s possible the eggs are being incubated. I may have come along as the adult was taking a break from that chore.   The Explore the WildRead more