Gall Midges

Top Photo: Cypress flower midge galls on bald cypress needles (November). When female cypress flower gall midges emerge in the spring they mate and immediately lay eggs on fresh green needles of bald cypress trees. The feeding larvae which hatch from the eggs stimulate the needles into forming flower shaped galls on their surfaces. The galls look very much like tiny fungi, but inside each one of the little “mushrooms” is a larva of a cypress flower gall midge. TheRead more

You Had to Be There

Top Photo: Hermit thrush surveys its winter quarters near red wolf enclosure at museum. A hermit thrush can be difficult to spot when sitting motionless amongst branches, twigs, and leaves of trees. Even while it calls out with a chup…chup…chup or slowly repeats a slurry, whistled tone, it can be hard to pin down. Perseverance sometimes pays off when the bird switches perch, the movement catching your eye, and you got him. While walking along a service road out ofRead more

Late Season Insect

Top Photo: Common green stink bug. I came across a green stink bug while walking on a service road here at the museum. Though it’s November, the temps were in the mid 70s, twenty degrees warmer than it is today. The insect was making its way up two bundles of loblolly pine needles which had fallen and lodged themselves on a small bare vine. There are at least two green stink bugs you can encounter here on the Carolina Piedmont,Read more

Fall Update

Top Photo: Eastern phoebe awaits airborne insects. These hardy flycatchers will be with us for most of the winter. The weather is delightful and so are the sights outdoors at the museum. But, you have to be there to see them. Abelia is still blooming and attracting visitors at the Butterfly House Garden. It’s a non-native species but not considered invasive. A carpenter bee buzzes by goldenrod in the garden along the stairway and ramp leading to the Butterfly House.Read more

More Stuff You Might See

Top Photo: On a cool fall morning, Eno, one of our red wolves on display, yawns deeply before resting his weary head. Bald cypress, carpenter bees, musk turtles, ground hogs and others headline Nature Watch this week. Bald cypress has put out an impressive amount of cones this year. Carpenter bee activity is far greater in the spring when over-wintering adults emerge and vie for territories and nest sites. However, they’re still active now. The bees drill nice, neat 3/8”Read more

A Spider and a Resting Monarch

Top Photo: Spider takes refuge under magnolia leaf. After my having walked through it’s partially deconstructed web, the architect and builder retreated to the underside of a sturdy southern magnolia leaf. It was an orb weaver which tells you what kind of web it builds and what family of spiders it belongs to, Araneidae. Araneidae build the stereotypical webs most people are familiar with. The webs are vertically oriented, circular webs placed across paths, roads, walkways, between shrubs and trees,Read more

What you might see

Top Photo: “New” frogs huddled together on floating log. All are bullfrogs recently morphed from tadpoles. Some still have tails. Here are photos of things you might see on our outdoor loop through Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind. Each fall there’s a flurry of Cape May warbler activity in the trees on the north side of the wetlands, whichever trees are infested with insects. This year, it’s the mimosas. The insect? Mimosa web worms. Grasshoppers become more evidentRead more

A Little Bit of Blue

Top Photo: Larva on crownbeard. I was expecting to find larvae of silvery checkerspot as I bent down to look at the usually tall, broad-leafed herbaceous plant with misshaped yellow flowers, crownbeard. I always associate crownbeard with that orange and black butterfly, though I’ve never recorded one here at the museum in my 14 some years of walking past these flowers, it does no harm to look. When I see this plant along the Eno River, or other wet areas,Read more

More Fall

Top Photo: Juvenile northern mockingbird perched in rain garden shrubbery. The juvenile northern mockingbird pictured here is perched on the white-berried variety of the native American beautyberry. The bird’s parent was in the next shrub loudly calling schek, schek, schek as it watched the younger bird pick through the berries of the shrub. The overall brownish hue and spots on its breast, and the light colored gape (corner of mouth or bill) easily mark this bird as a juvenile. CertainRead more

Garden Watch

Top Photo: Goldenrod in bloom at Wander Away. Visiting a garden at this time of year can be very rewarding. Goldenrod likes to wait until September or later to bloom, and like boneset mentioned in the previous post, has tiny blossoms which attract big crowds. Butterflies, bees and wasps are too busy sucking up nectar to pay much attention to naturalists who stare at them while they refuel. If you’re patient, and you’re taking pictures, you may end up withRead more