No Time to Spare

Top Photo: A male slaty skimmer waits for flying insects to pass by. If you spend any time out in nature, you’ll no doubt see animals sitting around seemingly doing nothing. Perching, waiting, and sitting still is just part of life for many wild creatures. There’s usually a very good reason for the apparent idleness. While some dragonflies spend a good portion of their day hunting on the wing, slaty skimmers, like the one pictured above, do their hunting fromRead more

Two Odonates

Sometimes, you just get lucky. The two species of Odonata pictured here are not often seen in or around our wetland. One prefers stream habitat, the other ponds and lakes near meadows or weedy fields. The green-bodied damselfly with black wings is an ebony jewelwing. They’re more likely to be seen along a wooded stream than the shores of our wetland. Perhaps it wandered over from Ellerbe Creek which flows through the west side of the museum property. They are,Read more

Brief Wetland Look

There’s little doubt that the Wetlands is the most outstanding feature of the Explore the Wild section of our outdoor adventure loop. Fall’s approaching quickly so here’s a very brief glimpse of the summertime wetlands which includes a few subjects you may have to look more closely to see. The most abundant tree of the wetlands is the black willow. Here, it doesn’t reach a height of more than fifteen feet of so. Yellow-bellied sliders are the most common aquaticRead more

Summer Sights

The butterfly in the top photo is an eastern tailed-blue. It belongs to a group of small butterflies known as blues. They are typically blue on the upper surface of the wings. They like open spaces and generally fly low to the ground.   The eastern tailed-blue above is worn. Some of its markings are missing or obscured and one can barely make out a “tail” on the hind wing. Below is a more fresh individual, a male, displaying theRead 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

Ode #40

Up until May 27th of this year I had seen 39 species of odes (odonata – dragonflies and damselflies) here at the Museum. There are now 40 species on the list. Common sanddragons (Progomphus obscurus) are not rare. In fact, as the name implies, they are quite common, although they’re probably more common on the coastal plain than here on the piedmont. These dragons prefer sandy bottomed streams and rivers. Sandy bottomed streams are more prevelant east and south ofRead more

A New Species?

When I spotted the damselfly I immediately thought it was new to the Museum, that I hadn’t previously seen this species here in our Wetlands. But I had seen it before. When I checked my odonata checklist I realized that I had first seen this species on May 21, two years prior. It was an azure bluet. Azure bluets are not uncommon. If you were to search for them in our wetlands or any other shallow pond in the state, you’d likelyRead more

All Is As It Should Be

It is now May. Insects that we haven’t seen for months are back among us. Reptiles and amphibians are active as if winter had never happened. Many birds that have been far away in Central and South America have returned to the Museum grounds to make nests and raise families. It’s as if they never left. Keep your eyes and ears open for these creatures as you walk the paths and trails here at the Museum. I’ve gathered more thanRead more

Cow Killer and Wandering Gliders

Top Image: Cow Killer or velvet ant, a flightless female parasitic wasp. A cow killer (Dasymutilla occidentalis) is a wasp. The females are flightless. If you’ve seen one, you’ve surely remembered it for its velvety, bright red or orange and black coloration. It was probably racing around your backyard, a sandy patch of soil with sparse vegetation, or across the hiking trail you were trekking down.     If you were wondering what the insect was doing, dashing around as it was,Read more

Hot Summer Sights

Even though it’s blistering hot outside, it’s still worth the trip outdoors to see what’s going on. Here’s proof. Some dragonflies.             A trio of butterflies.         A fly.       And turtle news.           Parting shot.    Read more