Something to Look At

Top Photo: Bumble bee takes nectar and transfers pollen in the process.

Here, I have a quick list of photos of what you might see on a walk around the outdoor trails here at the museum.

Last year we had at least three bald-faced hornet hives on the campus. One was in a dawn redwood tree over the boardwalk, another in a pine along one of the service roads, and the third was in a small maple hanging over Ellerbe Creek. The hive shown here is attached to a holly tree. It’s still in the making and only about eight inches across. The others were more than a foot across.

A work in progress, bald-faced hornet hive.

Copperheads are named for their coppery colored heads, finely illustrated in the next two photos.

Note coppery head of this snake.
A long lens was used for this photo.

Our current resident great blue heron seems to prefer its privacy. It typically stays on the far side of the wetlands during open hours.

Great blue heron keeping its distance.

Guided by telltale frass on the boardwalk through the wetlands we discovered a group of green-striped mapleworms feeding overhead on red maple. They feed gregariously. They’ll soon become very attractive rosy maple moths.

Green-striped maple worm.
Red mark on posterior end of abdomen is distinctive.

Well known to most who try to grow vegetable, flower, or any other type of garden, Japanese beetles will skeletonize just about any plant leaves presented to them.

Japanese beetles eat flowers as well as leaves.
This beetle appears to be sipping water that has collected on a dogbane leaf.

It’s a bit early in the season to see large milkweed bugs, but one showed up on the milkweed in front of the Butterfly House. They’ve been reported to feed on bees, monarch larvae, dogbane beetles, and of course the leaves, stems, and seeds of milkweed. I’ve never seen them engaged with anything but plant material. They’re commonly seen on milkweed later in the season when the milkweed’s seed pods are produced.

They lay their eggs on the plant’s leaves. I usually see the nymphs on or around the seed pods in late summer or fall.

Early season large milkweed bug.

The spicebush swallowtail butterfly pictured here is somewhat worn. Its swallow “tails” are missing, there are tears in its wings, and many scales are missing.

A worn spicebush swallowtail.

And finally, nice weather brings out the turtles. Here, a bale of yellow-bellied sliders is joined by a common snapping turtle on two oft-used basking perches in the wetlands.

A common snapping turtle dwarfs its fellow basking yellow-bellied sliders.

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