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

Parasitic Wasp and Caterpillar

Top Photo: Mystery objects on redbud leaf. Rangers Becca and Robert discovered an unusual leaf mixed in with the regulars in the leaf liter at the base of a redbud tree next to the path near the Cafe Plaza. The leaf had dozens of objects attached which appeared to the two rangers as some sort of insect eggs or larvae. A radio call and several minutes later, I was staring at the objects myself. My first impression was of someRead more

Mimosa and the Web

Top Photo: Mimosa leaves with mimosa webworm infestation. Both mimosa the tree and the webworm are non-native and considered invasive species. The tree was introduced into the United Sates during the mid 18th century. Most sources quote 1745 as the year of introduction as an ornamental. Mimosa is a legume and produces copious amounts of long, seed containing pods. The seeds are very hardy and stay viable for years. New trees pop up all around the mother tree, even sproutingRead more

Golden Afternoon

Top Photo: Common buckeye on goldenrod. Positioning oneself next to a stand of goldenrod on a sunny fall afternoon is a wise choice for a naturalist interested in getting a quick inventory of the local flying insects. The insects are attracted to the yellow flowers for their nectar and accessibility. There are no long tubular flowers requiring a lengthy proboscis to reach the sweet liquid. No hovering necessary either, the flowers are right there on top of the plant. SmallRead more

A Few Fall Encounters

Top Photo: Eastern Phoebe. Eastern phoebes can be seen in every month of the year in central North Carolina. Here at the museum, they nest under the boardwalk each spring/summer and are present in all but the coldest months of the year, although some years I see them regularly throughout the four seasons. The phoebe above is in fresh fall plumage. You can see the distinctive greenish belly and chin on this newly molted bird. The green tint will soonRead more