Turtles and Persimmons

Top Photo: Persimmon ripening on tree. It’s well known among catfish aficionados that persimmons will catch a bucketful of the opportunistic, gill breathing, bony fish. In the fall, if there’s a persimmon tree next to the pond there’s probably a catfish hovering nearby. I was surprised to learn this past week that besides catfish, aquatic turtles seek out persimmons. Not surprised so much by what they were eating (the persimmons) but by the length in which they’d go to doRead more

Tussocks and Other Summer Treats

Top Photo: Sycamore tussock moth caterpillar crawls along railing. If there are sycamore trees in the area you’re likely to run into one or more of these fuzzy, tufted caterpillars. The adult sycamore tussock moth has tan wings crossed with slightly darker bands on translucent membranes. More common and widespread than the sycamore tussock moth caterpillar, is the white-marked tussock moth caterpillar. It’s been reported munching on over 140 host plants including conifers. White-marked tussock moth’s adult form is aRead more

Spiny-backed Spider and More

Top Photo: Spiny-backed orb weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis) Only about 1/2” wide, spiny-backed orb weavers are distinctive for their shape and pattern. The individual pictured is mostly white with black markings and red spikes. But, they may also be yellow or red with shades in between. The spines may be black. Some suggest the spines may deter predators such as birds or even subterranean-nesting, spider-seeking, solitary wasps. I doubt birds would be put off by the spikes. I must admit, though,Read more

Shedding, Basking, and Waiting

Top Photo: A green anole in mid-molt. Air bubbles are visible under old, shedding skin of the green anole pictured here. Green anoles may shed as often as once a month, or as infrequently as once annually. They may eat their old shed skin. At first glance, the dragonfly below looks to have three pairs of wings, even four pair. In fact, eastern amberwings have two pairs of wings. The illusion is cause by the translucence of the dragonfly’s wings,Read more

Turtle Nest

Top Photo: Eastern painted turtle heads back to water after laying eggs. Painted turtles come ashore each spring and summer to lay eggs. They deposit 2 – 6 eggs in a hole dug by themselves. The eggs take from 70 – 80 days to hatch with some young remaining in nest until the following spring. The turtle’s eggs, like the other aquatic turtles in our wetlands, are frequent victims of predation by terrestrial mammals, raccoons, foxes, and even squirrels. WhenRead more

Pickerel Frog

Top Photo: Can you see the frog in the center of the picture? In our area, pickerel frogs breed from February to April. The rest of their year is usually spent away from the temporary pools of water they typically breed in. They may be far from water during the non-breeding season. The frog pictured here was tucked in a crevice of a stone wall behind the waterfall in Earth Moves. Pickerel frogs are mostly brown in color with moreRead more

Morphing Frogs

Top Photo: Bullfrogs at edge of wetlands. The numerous bullfrogs that are currently morphing from tadpole to frog in our wetlands were eggs last summer. The eggs hatched approximately five days from deposition. Nine months to perhaps a year later they’re transitioning from tadpole to frog. That may seem a long time, but consider the bullfrog in more northern climates. A bullfrog tadpole hatched in a Massachusetts pond may take three years to become a frog. These frogs are approximatelyRead more

Snake Mate

Top Photo: Northern water snake among rushes in wetlands. I’ve been monitoring a female northern water snake since first discovering it in our wetlands in late May. There’s nothing unusual about water snakes in the wetland but this snake’s had a problem either with it respiration or jaw alignment. It keeps opening and closing its mouth and moving the mandible from side to side. This is abnormal behavior. Today (6.9.23) I witnessed a smaller male water snake attempt to mateRead more

Snake Jaws

Top Photo: Northern water snake. Northern water snake (nerodia sipedon) is the water snake of the North Carolina Piedmont. The banded and brown water snake look-a-likes are more closely tied to the coastal plain. The water snake shown here was basking on a wax myrtle branch next to the floating walkway in our wetlands. Curiously, this snake kept opening and closing it’s mouth. This is probably the same snake I reported seeing on May 26 which also kept opening andRead more