A Few Flying Insects

Here’s a quick look at some flying insects I’ve encountered during the past few weeks. American lady butterflies are fairly large and easy to spot in the flower garden at the Butterfly House. These butterflies look similar to a southwestern species which makes it to the state every couple of years. On this species, American lady, note the white dot on an orange rectangular area of the forewing which is visible from both above and below. On the underside ofRead more

Ducks Heads

Top Photo: Male mallard swims away. Do you notice anything odd about this duck? Everyone has seen a mallard. To most people mallards are the duck. Let’s face it, they’re everywhere. They’re the most common duck across the northern hemisphere and part of the southern. They can be found in North and South America, Europe, Asia and parts of the African continent. They’re even in Greenland, Australia and New Zealand. If asked, what color is a mallard’s head? most peopleRead more

Bears, Burls, and Butter-butts

Top Photo: Mimi bear (right) and Gus bear. After grazing on some winter grass, Mimi bear seemed to be headed for the culvert pipe attraction in her enclosure to slip inside for a nap. Gus bear was already engaged. With a sidelong glance at the slumbering male bear, Mimi slinked off to greener pastures. Recently, Ranger Brooke found a small piece of pine branch with a growth attached. She asked me what I thought it was. I reasoned it aRead more

Annual Creeper, Brooke, and Feeders

Top Photo: Annual out-of-focus brown creeper photo. Each winter here at the museum I get the opportunity to photograph at least one brown creeper. I don’t see them that often, once, twice, maybe three times per winter season. They’re listed as “fairly common” here on the piedmont but they are, however, small, inconspicuous, and easily overlooked. As the name implies, they’re largely brown in color with white and black markings and nearly all white undersides. They creep up the sidesRead more

Bees, Butterflies et al. of the Day

Top Photo: Honeybees at Fatsia Japonica on the Dino Trail. Today’s unusually mild temperatures have activated insects like it was a day in May. Look in the the vicinity of blooming flowers, you’ll see them. The honeybees above were very busy taking nectar and whatever pollen they could from the simple umbel flowers of fatsia. Everywhere I turned today I saw insects going about their business. Fly species, wasps, and of course, bees and butterflies were literally buzzing about anyRead more

Three Hives

Top Photo: One of three known bald-faced hornet’s nests at museum this year. There have been at least three active bald-faced hornet nests on our 84 acre campus this year. It’s likely there were more, but only three were discovered. Two of the hives were found by the sharp eye of Ranger Martha who is always on the lookout for mycelium. As is often the case when searching for one thing, you’re often surprised by the serendipitous discovery of somethingRead more

Crayfish Revisited

Top Photo: One red swamp crayfish jets away as another approaches it. I’m frequently asked about the creatures that live in our wetlands. Inevitably, the subject of crayfish, red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), enters the conversation. I ask whoever it is I’m talking to if they’ve read my blog postings on the crayfish. If not, I urge them to do so as soon as they get the chance. The following was first published in October of 2011 under the titleRead more

What You Might See

Top Photo: Mystery bird in red maple. If you identified the bird in the top photo, you did well. It’s a blue-headed vireo. It was formerly know as solitary vireo, a name which I prefer over blue-headed. It’s not a rare migrant here in the Piedmont, but I haven’t seen one at the museum in several years so I thought it noteworthy. Occasionally they’re seen in the area during December, January, or even February. Fatsia Japonica is in bloom onRead more

November

Top Photo: Panaeolus sp. mushroom. These attractive mushrooms (Panaeolus sp.) sprouted under a fern at the entrance to the Dinosaur Trail. Boxelder, also known as ashleaf maple is a common tree here at the museum, but none reach their maximum height of about 60 feet. The name ashleaf maple comes from the tree’s compound leaves resemblance to ash leaves. It usually has five leaflets per leaf but may also have as little as three leaflets, which is the reason forRead more

The Laugher and a Few Birds

Top Photo: The laugher moth caterpillar (Charadra deridens). The name “The Laugher” given to a moth with the scientific name of Charadra deridens is named for the adult moth which supposedly has, on its folded wings, the likeness of a man laughing. I don’t have a photo of the adult moth, but there are many on the internet. If you wish to have a peek yourself here’s a link to some of those pictures at BugGuide.Net. When looking at theRead more