Potter Wasp

A hot, humid, and quiet day and a potter wasp has secured a looper caterpillar for its “pot” nest chamber. The wasp descended on the caterpillar as it was looping along the path in front of Into The Mist in Catch the Wind. I was lucky to be there when it happened. Potter wasps are solitary wasps, which means they nest alone, not in colonial gatherings as do some burrowing wasps or in collective hives as do yellowjackets, paper wasps, orRead more

August Has Gone By

August is over and we’re sliding into fall. Here’s a small sampling of sights I witnessed this past month above and beyond what I’ve previously posted. At the top and below are pictures of Bembix wasps. The various, rather gentle, non-aggressive wasp species in the Bembix genus burrow into sand to house and feed their young. They feed the larvae flies. They’re often called sand wasps. The picture above is of a Bembix wasp standing at the entrance to itsRead more

Brief Wetland Look

There’s little doubt that the Wetlands is the most outstanding feature of the Explore the Wild section of our outdoor adventure loop. Fall’s approaching quickly so here’s a very brief glimpse of the summertime wetlands which includes a few subjects you may have to look more closely to see. The most abundant tree of the wetlands is the black willow. Here, it doesn’t reach a height of more than fifteen feet of so. Yellow-bellied sliders are the most common aquaticRead more

July, gone but not forgotten

On its way to the ocean via the Eno River, Falls Lake and Neuse River, Ellerbe Creek runs through our 84 acre campus. Before it reaches us, it flows under an interstate highway (twice), through a golf course, through quiet neighborhoods and under and through a mall, mostly unseen by the local human population. There are a handful of preserves along its 20 mile meander through Durham but for the most part, I’d wager, most folks don’t know it exists.Read more

Mountain Mint

  These large, black wasps are specialist in orthoptera. They provision their underground burrows, or nests, with grasshoppers and katydids. Thread-waisted wasps of the ammophila variety provision their burrow nests with caterpillars or sawfly larvae. Great-golden digger wasps (Sphex ichneumoneus), like the great black wasp above, is an orthopteran specialist. It too uses grasshoppers and katydids to stock the chambers of its burrow nest. Both bees and wasps seem mesmerized by the diminutive flowers. Indirectly attracted to the flowers, thereRead more

June Sightings in The Wild

It’s near the end of June. Below (and above) are photos of some of the creatures I’ve seen during the month. They’re arranged in no particular order. The top photo is of one of the milkweeds, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It attracts many insects to it’s flowers, leaves, and seed pods throughout the summer season. Here, you can see new flower buds on the left and older flowers to the right. Some insects go out of their way to attractRead more

A Passion For Flowers

Located around our campus there grows two different varieties of passionflower or passion vine, yellow (passiflora lutea) and purple (Passiflora incarnata). The yellow variety is a small, more delicate plant than the purple variety. Although the flower is structurally similar it is smaller and less ornate. The leaves are three lobed as in the purple passionflower vine but with little or no sinus separating the lobes. The flowers on the purple variety are about three inches across whereas the yellowRead more

More Summer Fun

Equisetum (top photo) is also called horsetail or scouring rush. This patch is located in and around the Troodon exhibit on the Dino Trail. The name equisetum is Latin for “horse bristle.” The common name horsetail is usually used to describe the entire group of species within the genus Equisetum. The branched species are said to resemble a horse’s tail. The name scouring rush comes from the fact that the rough, silica rich stems have been, and can be, usedRead more

Summer Sights

The butterfly in the top photo is an eastern tailed-blue. It belongs to a group of small butterflies known as blues. They are typically blue on the upper surface of the wings. They like open spaces and generally fly low to the ground.   The eastern tailed-blue above is worn. Some of its markings are missing or obscured and one can barely make out a “tail” on the hind wing. Below is a more fresh individual, a male, displaying theRead more

Summertime

It’s June, and meteorologically speaking, it’s summer. Here’re some photos taken during May as a way of saying goodbye to spring and hello to summer. Since we started off with a green tree frog perched upon Equisetum, or horsetail, in the top photo, we’ll continue with amphibians. Hairstreak butterflies are named for the long, hair-like scales that extend from the hind wings. They are pseudo antennae intended to fool would be predators into thinking the hind wing area is the headRead more