Caterpillars Eating Elm Leaves

Top Photo: Polygonia interrogationis on Ulmus. The caterpillars in these photos are question marks (Polygonia interrogationis). They’re butterfly caterpillars. Looking at the photos you may think they’re named for the shape they sometimes assume when disturbed. Not so. They are, in fact, named after the punctuation mark (?) but not because of the way the caterpillars scrunch up when hassled. No, question marks are named for markings on the underside of the adult butterfly’s hindwings which are roughly the shapeRead more

A Sphinx

Top Photo: Elm Sphinx caterpillar on elm. Each summer I come across a large green caterpillar in an elm tree overhanging the boardwalk in Explore the Wild, an elm sphinx moth caterpillar (Ceratomia amyntor). This species is also known as four-horned sphinx (tobacco and tomato hornworms are sphinx moths). The elm sphinx I see each year is always in the same elm tree, but I’ve never seen the adult, until this spring. Most adult sphinx moths are cryptically colored inRead more

Just a Few Tree Thoughts

While this post is mostly pictures of trees along our paths here at the museum, there is some news to impart and to perhaps think about. Most of our elms and red cedars are only recently past blooming, but other trees still have their seeds attached from last year’s growing season and are far from flowering anew. Try to catch the trees backlit against a severe clear blue sky. Just a week ago male red cedar flowers were sending off theirRead more

Springing Forward

If you put any stock in what plants tell you, you’d have to agree that spring’s about to pop. Don’t take my word for it, look: incidentally, spring peepers and upland chorus frogs have been calling. So, it’s time to get out and experience these early manifestations of spring.Read more

A Sphinx Moth

I don’t know what made me look up, pure curiosity I suspect. As I craned my neck upward, a large green caterpillar caught my eye. It was about twelve feet up on the underside of a small twig of an elm tree. It was the end of the day, closing time, and I was walking the boardwalk in Explore the Wild for the final time. Although I couldn’t put a name on it, I immediately recognized the caterpillar. I’d seenRead 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

Full Speed Ahead

With temperatures in the 70s and 80s during much of this period, things were happening fast and furious out on the Explore the Wild/Catch the Wind Loop. The Redbuds are budding, the elms are producing seeds, and many of the various shrubs and trees around the loop are showing flower buds or new leaf growth. However, during the last few days of this period cold, heavy rains slowed things down a bit, if only temporarily.Read more