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

Sawfly Feast

Top Photo: Sawfly larva on oak leaf (note eight pair of prolegs). I walk by the tree numerous times a day. I knew it was a white oak and I knew it had some sort of leaf miners or skeletonizers actively feeding on the leaves. The leaves were turning a lighter shade of pale from their centers outward. I was tempted to find out what was going on with the tree but didn’t act on it. I didn’t act onRead more

July, gone but not forgotten

On its way to the ocean via the Eno River, Falls Lake and Neuse River, Ellerbe Creek runs through our 84 acre campus. Before it reaches us, it flows under an interstate highway (twice), through a golf course, through quiet neighborhoods and under and through a mall, mostly unseen by the local human population. There are a handful of preserves along its 20 mile meander through Durham but for the most part, I’d wager, most folks don’t know it exists.Read more

Orchids, Trumpets, Passion Fruit, Sawflies, and Oakworms

Thanks to Richard Stickney (Butterfly House Conservatory) I was able to get a look at, and a few photos of, an orchid growing here at the Museum. Richard spotted the leaves of the orchid last winter and had been waiting for the flowers to appear. It’s now in bloom. The orchid is a crane-fly orchid (Tipularia discolor). These orchids show leaves on the forest floor in fall and winter. The leaves disappear as the flowers emerge the following summer. It’s not aRead more

What’s the Difference?

Top Photo: Sawfly larva or caterpillar? I received an email, with a blurry photo attached, stating that the emailer had taken the photo in Explore the Wild. The subjects in the photo looked to be caterpillars, but may have been sawflies, I couldn’t tell. I had to go look for myself. The email said that the caterpillars, or whatever they were, were on a birch tree on the north side of the Wetlands. There are three birches on the north side ofRead more

What’s eating the Hibiscus?

We have one hibiscus growing in Explore the Wild (ETW). You may have seen it. When it blooms the flowers are very large, about 6-8 inches across, and are pink or magenta in color. If you’ve walked by the vending area in ETW during the last few weeks you would have noticed the flowers (the plant has since gone by, it’s no longer blooming). But this is not about the flowers, this is about the leaves and what’s eating them.Read more