What You May Have Missed

Above, a large snapper basks on a warm rock in the bright early May sunshine.

As you stroll along through the outdoor exhibits here at the museum there are many interesting sights for you to enjoy. Turtles are out basking, birds are exploiting the wetland’s lesser wild life, new blooms occur almost daily, and closer to the ground, you may witness an arthropod or two going about their daily routines. But you have to look, keep your eyes open to what’s going on. You may just walk right by them without notice.

Black locust, one of two locusts in our area (the other, the much less common honey locust) is currently in bloom.

Black locust in bloom.

Buckeye is already forming “buckeyes” (seeds). It looks like this may be a good year for them.

Buckeye showing “buckeyes.”
Close of buckeyes.

Besides the many yellow-bellied sliders, the most common wild aquatic turtle we have at the museum, common snapping turtles and eastern musk turtles are out basking in the warming rays of the May sun. In fact, besides the snapper above (banner) two other snappers were out basking.

Snapper #2.
A third snapping turtle.
An eastern musk turtle, or stinkpot, out on a limb.
Musk turtles are good climbers.

Speaking of turtles, if you peek over the railing of our boardwalk while hiking through the wetlands area, you may see turtles in the water below you. They are yellow-bellied sliders. You may mistake the smaller turtles for young or “baby” turtles. They’re adult males.

Male yellow-bellied slider.

Male turtles may be nearly half the size as the females. Also, look at the front feet. Notice long toe nails, two or three times the length of the larger female turtles. And, notice the tail, thicker and longer than the female turtles.

Female yellow-bellied slider.

Keep an eye out for green herons along the edge of the wetlands while they hunt for various aquatic prey items.

Stalking prey.
A small crayfish for its effort.

Wolf spiders are common nearly everywhere in our area. I came across one on the path hauling along its silken sac full of eggs. I stood and watched as it safely made the journey to the edge of the path.

Wolf spider with egg sac.

And finally, an insect you’ve probably heard of, but may have never actually seen.

Oxeye daisy with visitors.

The small specs on the oxeye daisy in the photo above are carpet beetles, varied carpet beetles. They get their name from the fact they feed on animal materials such as wool, fur, skins, etc. In the past rugs/carpets were mostly made of those materials. Now those items are largely synthetic.

Varied carpet beetles.

The beetles also consume items such as wheat, flour, oats, rice and other dried food items, things you may have in your pantry.

If you happen to pass by a daisy on your stroll, bend down and give a close look, you may see a few of these beetles among other tiny flower bugs, beetles, or caterpillars.

Enjoy!

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