Some Sights From the Wild

Hearts a bursting or strawberry bush (Euonymus americanus) is showing off its namesake fruit. There are a dozen or so of these plants across the campus. The easiest to see and photograph is on the Dinosaur Trail, on the right side of the path just past the Albertosaurus. While on the Dino Trail, keep an eye out for a flatworm or land planarian, especially on warm, rainy days. Most people are familiar with planarian worms from biology lab back inRead 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

The Dagger

On Wednesday of last week (6/3), I spotted a not quite 2” caterpillar trekking across the macadam of our outdoor loop trail through Catch the Wind and Explore the Wild. The caterpillar had a black head, yellow-green body, black markings on its sides and a whitish mid dorsal stripe, which included a series of eight “warts,” three of which were more prominent than the others. It was moderately covered with white setae (hairs) with the setae on the thorax longer andRead more

A Glimpse of the Past

I was walking down the path that leads from Catch the Wind to Explore the Wild on the far side of that half mile exhibit loop. I glanced to my right and noticed a small tan-colored object dangling from a twig on a hornbeam, or ironwood, tree on the right side of the path, chrysalis. The tree is very close to a patch of partridge pea, which is host to cloudless sulphur butterflies in late summer and fall. I sawRead more

Caterpillar Time

It’s that time of year again when caterpillars seem to be everywhere. Oh sure, caterpillars can be seen from spring till late fall, sometimes in huge numbers. How can you forget those cankerworms that dangled on silky threads from every tree branch by the thousands, no millions, last April. No, what I’m talking about is the huge variety of species that can be viewed at this time of year. Both moth and butterfly species have been busy all summer producing youngRead more

Emeralds, Tigers, Titans, and Nymphs

The flowers in the photo are black-eyed Susan. But, notice where the arrow points. It’s pointing at what appears to be debris on the disc of one of the flowers.     The debris is actually a caterpillar, a camouflaged looper, the larva of a small moth.     Still doesn’t look like a caterpillar?     These small caterpillars attach flower and plant parts to themselves in order to disappear into the flower. In truth, I’m not sure whether the caterpillar is aRead more

Maple and Monarchs in Color

There’s color in the leaves and Monarch butterflies are on the move. Maples are currently the main source of the local sylvan color, but we still have a way to go before the full blast of fall hues thrust itself upon us. The peak in Monarch butterfly migration in our area is around the first week in October. It’s never a heavy migration in our area due our geography. It’s the mountains and the coast that see the largest numbers ofRead more

Leps on Viburnum

The viburnum here at the Museum is in bloom and when it is I scan the blossoms for early season leps (butterflies). Looking back on my records I’ve photo’d Juniper Hairstreaks on the viburnum in Catch the Wind on April 10, 2010, April 7, 2011, April 3, 2012, and the 22nd of April this year. They were a bit late this year. I think we all know the reason for that, persistent cool weather. These small butterflies with green scalesRead more

The Pace Quickens

As the days pass, more and more species step in line. Plants and animals that have been waiting out the cold spring to life as the daytime temperatures hit the 70s and the nights level off in the fifties. A couple more days of chilly (not cold, but chilly) weather and it will all be behind us. Elms and Silky Willows are blooming, butterflies are emerging, and frogs and birds seem eager to get on with starting families, or atRead more

Harvesters Eclose

The subjects of the two images at right are what greeted me as I anxiously inspected the alder this morning. I’d been out of the “office” for three days and was hoping to find both Harvester pupae intact. The first chrysalis was indeed intact, but much darkened from when I last saw it several days ago. The darkening of the chrysalis is a sure sign that the butterfly within is soon to emerge. It’s actually transparent and what you seeRead more