Japanese Apricot

Japanese apricot (Prunus mume), or Chinese plum is once again blooming here at the museum. At about the same time last year I reported on this small tree coming into flower. At that time I didn’t know what it was. It’s obviously an early bloomer. And, as reported last year, it’s not a native species, originating in China. It’s been cultivated for some 1500 years around the world. Our little tree is alongside the path just across from the eastRead more

Another Mushroom

Poronidulus conchifer is a polypore fungus. Polypores are mushrooms found mainly on dead or living trees, which play an important part in wood decay, as you can imagine. I first saw the ones pictured somewhere along the path in Explore the Wild. At the time, I didn’t know what they were. They looked very much like bird’s nest mushrooms, sans eggs, but as I later found out, are not related. They were about 1/4” – 3/8” across. Bird’s nests areRead more

What’s to Eat

The grasshopper in the above photo is being disassembled by a yellowjacket. The meaty parts of the hopper will be transported back to the hive where it’ll be placed in cells containing larvae within the hive. The female wasps are busy this time of year as the hive is perhaps at its largest of the season. I found the parts of a red swamp crayfish on the railing of the boardwalk leading to the Black Bear Overlook. It too hadRead more

Early Fall

The bullfrog in the top photo was one a four spotted yesterday at the end of the boardwalk in Explore the Wild. Bullfrogs can sit very still while waiting for prey to come along then spring forth with lightning speed to capture and swallow that prey. They eat just about anything that comes close enough to snatch, insects, fish, smaller frogs, crawfish, even birds. Up until this week I’d only seen two snakes in our wetlands the past season, anRead more

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

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

What’s Happening in the Wild

Above, during a downpour, northern rough-winged swallows take a break from swirling, diving and capturing airborne insects over the wetlands. If, while visiting the museum you park at the parking deck, stop and have a look at the flowers blooming along the path leading to the deck, you may see some interesting insects, including several species of butterfly. Over the past week I’ve been seeing dogbane beetles on their namesake plant along the path of the outdoor loop through ExploreRead more

The Week in Pictures

A quick pictorial trip back to the past week. Flowering dogwood is in bloom (above). Over the past week I began to see aquatic turtles very near the shoreline of our wetlands, peeking up from the water to the shore. I suspected they were searching for safe places to come ashore and lay eggs. The next day I saw two yellow-bellied sliders walking along the path. It’s nesting time. The tadpoles, products of the American toad breeding spree of March,Read more