It’s all out there, heat or not.

We are not experiencing record heat, in fact it’s hotter today (7/19) in Boston than it is here, high 90s to low 90s, respectively. But it’s still hot. No one could convince me otherwise. So why was there a bullfrog sitting on the pavement today in Explore the Wild?

This bullfrog seemed to be enjoying its mid afternoon perch on the pavement.

True, the frog in the above photo is in the shade. And, that particular patch of pavement is in shade most of the day, but is it really cooler than a nice shady spot next to, or in, the water?

Is the water warmer, or hotter than the air? The water scorpion in the next photo may be an indicator of the temperatures of each.

Was this water scorpion trying to get out of hot water?

I was staring down at the water when I noticed a slight disturbance on the surface, out popped the water scorpion. The insect never emerged farther than in the photo, just sat there half out of the water, half in. When I left, ten minutes later, it was still there. Although they don’t need to surface to breath, water scorpions do breath air, so this guy may have just been surfacing for a breath or two.

The water of the Wetlands is very shallow and still. After several long days of constant sunshine beating down on its surface it warms significantly. A few summers ago Molly (Education) was taking daily water samples, temp, turbidity, etc., from the Wetlands and was getting, if I remember correctly, temps in the high nineties. That’s certainly warmer than the air temps this past week. And, regardless of the air’s relative humidity, the water is always 100% saturated with, well, water.

Regardless of the air or water temperatures, there’s still plenty to see in the Outdoor Exhibit areas, like beetles, butterflies, and even spiders.

This dogbane leaf beetle prepares to take flight from the tip of, what else, a dogbane leaf.
A Pearl Crescent rests on a smartweed leaf.
What’s that amongst the smartweed?
Why, it’s hundreds of baby spiders. What kind of spiders, you say?
Dolomedes Triton, the crafty, wily spider that walks on water.

The spider above is also known as the Six-spotted Fishing Spider. As the name implies they do catch fish, and I once saw one eating a hefty tadpole here in our Wetlands. These spiders are one of the so called nursery web spiders, building a “nursery web” around their egg sacs. When the young hatch, they are encased within the web which protects them from predation.

And, oh yes, I saw the first of the season juvenile (newly morphed) Green Tree Frog on Thursday afternoon (7/18/13).

This is the first youngster I’ve seen so far this season. (about 1″)

So, regardless of the heat, there’s still plenty to see outdoors here at the Museum. By the time I post this, and you read it, it may have already cooled down a bit. But that won’t last long. We’ve got a long way to go for “true” cool air to hit our area.

So get out now and have a look around!


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