Falling Into Winter

We’re on the back side of fall and sliding into winter. There’s still much going on out-of-doors with lots to see if you keep an eye open to it. Here’s some of what I’ve been seeing. Asters are late summer and fall blooming flowers. They’re still blooming in the garden in front of our Butterfly House. Red buckeye fruit have already burst open spilling their large brown seeds (buckeyes) to the ground. Several common snapping turtle hatchlings were spotted bothRead more

Spring Happenings

Before and after your visit to the Red Wolf Enclosure to see the wolf pups out in Explore the Wild, be sure to keep a keen lookout for some of our local wild fauna here at the Museum. The garden in front of the Butterfly House, the sides of the paths around our outdoor loop, and the Wetlands are host to many a diverse creature waiting for your discovery. Currently, insects, frogs, and birds are stealing the show. Beetles, dragonflies,Read more

Seed Dispersal

Butterfly weed, a type of milkweed, is setting forth its flat brown seeds. The seeds have been growing inside long thin pods since the summer and have now burst open to expose the seeds to the elements, one element in particular, the wind. The seeds are attached to fluffy white, silky filaments which help to carry the seeds, often, far away from the mother plant. The plant pictured happens to be in Catch the Wind here at the Museum, aproposRead more

WOW

This week’s Walk of the Week (WOW) here at the Museum is to a small patch of interesting plants which attract many different insects to both its tiny but potent flowers, and to its leaves (the stems and leaves are toxic, you can touch but don’t be tempted to eat them). While you’re there admiring the plant you may notice one or several green-bronze iridescent beetles on its leaves. The beetle is about 1/4″  – 3/8″ in length. It feeds onRead more

Odes

Dragonflies continue to add to the color of the Wetlands. Carolina Saddlebags, Black Saddlebags, Great Blue Skimmers, and a Twelve-spotted Skimmer have enhanced the viewing pleasure while gazing out over the water of the Wetlands this past week. I even saw a species that I hadn’t seen here since 2010. There were also several female Great Blue Skimmers seen and photo’d. A surprise was a Twelve-spotted Skimmer seen perched on smartweed in the Wetlands. These dragons are migratory and areRead more

Viceroy

The butterfly in the above image is a Viceroy. It’s sometimes confused with a Monarch butterfly because of its coloration, orange background with black and white markings. Some key differences in the two are that Viceroys are smaller than Monarchs, have a more rapid wing beat, and the Viceroy has a transverse bar across its rear wings which the Monarch lacks. The host food of Monarchs is milkweed. Viceroys prefer willows, so your chances of seeing a Viceroy are increasedRead more

Monarchs

The other day, I was admiring the Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in Catch the Wind when a Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) lighted on the flowers and began to nectar. I photographed the butterfly and continued my walk down the path. When I got back to the office to download and catalogue the day’s photos I noticed something odd on several of the photos. There was a caterpillar just behind the butterfly’s right wing. It was a Monarch caterpillar. A few weeksRead more

A Lep Emerges!

Eleven days after a Cloudless Sulphur caterpillar was first noticed preparing to pupate on a Partridge Pea pod in Catch the Wind, it has emerged as an adult male butterfly. A Monarch caterpillar was pointed out to me on Butterfly Weed in Catch the Wind. I’ll have to keep an eye on that one too!Read more

Tiger Swallowtails and Others

It has been widely reported over the last week or so that Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are being seen in large numbers throughout our area (the Carolinas). Listservs such as Carolina Leps have had posts which speak of “an explosion of Tiger Swallowtails” and subject lines like “Tigers!” and “Day of the Tiger.”  It’s no different here at the Museum. Tiger swallowtails are back! Tiger swallowtail numbers peak in April/May and again in late July/August here in the Piedmont, although they canRead more