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

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

A Few Butterflies, a Great Egret, and a Lifesaver.

Top Photo: Large milkweed bugs mate between milkweed seed pods. Butterfly sightings are increasing. The common buckeye pictured here is a fairly easy find in grass along road and path edges. The Joe-Pye-weed in Wander Away is in bloom. Its tiny blossoms attract a variety of insects including hairstreak butterflies. Though I wanted to show you a juniper hairstreak on the Joe-Pye-weed as well, the one I was in pursuit of kept itself just out of reach. You’ll have toRead more

Something to Look At

Top Photo: Bumble bee takes nectar and transfers pollen in the process. Here, I have a quick list of photos of what you might see on a walk around the outdoor trails here at the museum. Last year we had at least three bald-faced hornet hives on the campus. One was in a dawn redwood tree over the boardwalk, another in a pine along one of the service roads, and the third was in a small maple hanging over EllerbeRead more

A Few Flying Insects

Here’s a quick look at some flying insects I’ve encountered during the past few weeks. American lady butterflies are fairly large and easy to spot in the flower garden at the Butterfly House. These butterflies look similar to a southwestern species which makes it to the state every couple of years. On this species, American lady, note the white dot on an orange rectangular area of the forewing which is visible from both above and below. On the underside ofRead more

Bees, Butterflies et al. of the Day

Top Photo: Honeybees at Fatsia Japonica on the Dino Trail. Today’s unusually mild temperatures have activated insects like it was a day in May. Look in the the vicinity of blooming flowers, you’ll see them. The honeybees above were very busy taking nectar and whatever pollen they could from the simple umbel flowers of fatsia. Everywhere I turned today I saw insects going about their business. Fly species, wasps, and of course, bees and butterflies were literally buzzing about anyRead more

Golden Afternoon

Top Photo: Common buckeye on goldenrod. Positioning oneself next to a stand of goldenrod on a sunny fall afternoon is a wise choice for a naturalist interested in getting a quick inventory of the local flying insects. The insects are attracted to the yellow flowers for their nectar and accessibility. There are no long tubular flowers requiring a lengthy proboscis to reach the sweet liquid. No hovering necessary either, the flowers are right there on top of the plant. SmallRead more

Three Quick Photos

Top Photo: Common checkered-skipper ready to spread it wings. Although this small butterfly, the common checkered-skipper, is flying from March to November somewhere in North Carolina, they’re most often seen here at the museum in September and October. They’re swift flyers. Seconds after perching they tend to open their wings to reveal the checkered pattern for which they’re named. If you see one silvery checkerspot (below), you may see another since they tend to be somewhat colonial. I look forRead more

New and Old Things Emerging

Top Photo: Tiny yellow flower of Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber. The fruit of the Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber is about an inch long. They look more like tiny watermelons but have the taste of a cucumber with a lemony tang. These vines grow in many locations throughout our campus, wherever they’re not supposed to grow. I intended to plant this vegetable in my own personal garden at home this year but was sidetracked by other matters. I’ll make sure toRead more

Long-tailed Skipper

Top Photo: Long-tailed skipper rests between visits to flowers. Long-tailed skipper is a southern species of butterfly which moves north following breeding each year. Sometimes, they make it all the way to the northeastern states in fall. Butterfly enthusiasts would be all a-flutter should a long-tailed skipper show up on a fall-blooming flower in September in, say, Cape Cod, MA or even Cape May, NJ. I remember one occasion when a long-tailed skipper was spotted at a rural mailbox withRead more