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

Lepidoptera, Mantodea, and Anseriformes

There are still a few monarchs hanging about. I saw two of them on Sunday (11/15/15) in the garden on either side of the steps leading to the Butterfly House here at the Museum. I also saw an American lady and a cabbage white butterfly. All were nectaring on the asters on the west side of the steps.       Also in the garden was a Chinese mantid. It, was warming itself on a metal sculpture of the sun.Read more

Cold Front

I was expecting big things after the passage of the cold front on Tuesday evening. The next morning I anxiously took a look around the grounds for any birds that may have come in behind the front. I was secretly hoping for a Northern Saw-whet Owl. I’ve looked for saw-whets every year here at the Museum during November and December. I’ve yet to find one. They’re small owls, about 7 or 8 inches and weigh 5 ounces or less. TheyRead more

A Lady, a Snake, and a Late Bloomer

An American Lady (Venessa Virginiensis) was spotted in the aster patch in Catch the Wind yesterday (11/3). In fact, there were several butterfly species and both bumble and honey bees working the tiny asters. An Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) was seen slowly crossing the path in Explore the Wild near the Red Wolf Exhibit. The cool shade of the path made this snake’s movements rather sluggish. It appeared to be heading for its winter quarters and was seen aboutRead more

Pearl Crescent and others

In this past week of crisp cool weather, I found many butterflies of many different species. Here are just a handful. Pearl Crescent I’m sometimes asked why this butterfly is named Pearl Crescent. You have to see the underside of the hindwing to get the answer to that question, and this butterfly often pumps its wings up and down while perched, making it difficult to see the underwing. Persistence will get you a glimpse at a small whitish crescent on theRead more

The Wheel, a Hopper, a Borer, and a Carpet Beetle

Dragonfly and damselfly species are picking up. Seen this period were (dates next to names indicate day in which that species was first observed this season) Fragile Forktail, Citrine Forktail (4/18), Orange Bluet (4/27), Skimming Bluet (4/28), Common Green Darner, Swamp Darner, Common Baskettail, Eastern Pondhawk (4/25), Blue Corporal (4/25), Blue Dasher (4/27), Common Whitetail, and Black Saddlebags (4/27). The Skimming Bluets in the image at left are configured in what is referred to as the “copulation wheel.” This configurationRead more

Citrine Forktail and a Crowned Slug

Much to my surprise, and delight, there was a Citrine Forktail (several in fact) in the Wetlands on the first day of the month. The temperatures made it up into the mid 70s and the winds were calm, which is helpful for spotting these dainty little damselflies. Although the males have bright yellow markings on their abdomens (the thorax is mostly light green), they can disappear easily among the vegetation along the shore. I also saw a few of whatRead more

Autumn Meadowhawk

Right on cue, Autumn Meadowhawks have appeared on the scene (see Autumn Meadowhawks, Explore the Wild Journal, September 16-30, 2008). The first one that caught my eye was on October 19 following the rains brought in by a passing cold front. These rather small dragonflies have a red abdomen and yellowish or straw-colored legs (they were formerly known as Yellow-legged Meadowhawks). Although I’ve seen them in May, they’re typically late-season fliers. The best place to look for Autumn Meadowhawks onRead more

Locust Borer and Late Butterflies

Although mentioned in the last installment of the Explore the Wild Journal, a picture of a Two-lined Spittlebug was not displayed. More spittlebugs have been showing up and I was able to get a nice shot of one (image at right). There was a Locust Borer on the Goldenrod alongside the Wetlands (photo at left). Although I’ve seen Locust Borers on other flowers, Goldenrod is a good place to look for them. They blend in very well with the flowersRead more

Buprestid Beetles appear, Cicada Killer Stakes Claim

I found a metallic woodboring beetle on the paved path in Explore the Wild. It was one of the large metallic woodborers, Chalcophora virginiensis (pictured at right). Its larvae bore into pines. One reference calls this beetle the Large Flat-headed Pine Heartwood Borer (the thoracic section of the larva or grub is flattened). I think it’s much easier to say Virginia Pine Borer, so that’s what I call it. Adult beetles have a bullet-shaped body, as do the other beetlesRead more