Spring Heats Up for Plants, Animals, and Staff

Top Photo: Tent caterpillar hustling across path.

The caterpillar pictured above has made it’s way down out of its secure, communal silken tent in a nearby cherry tree. It’s in search of an even more secure location to pupate, under siding, tree bark, crevice or other hidden location. By late spring to summer it will become an adult moth and deposit eggs on a twig of another cherry tree, or perhaps the very same tree it crawled out of.

Note the caterpillars under the cover of silk “tent.”

Tiny caterpillars will hatch in a few weeks from laying but remain in the egg mass as first instar caterpillars through winter until the following spring when the tree leafs-out. The cycle now begins anew, build a silken tent in which to rest and grow, venture out only to eat the tree’s leaves and ultimately crawl off to pupate under siding, tree bark, crevice, or other similar location…

Eastern tent caterpillar making haste across path.

Red buckeye is in full bloom.

Red buckeye in full glory.

What left the tracks across the surface of a small retention pond in Explore the Wild?

Tracks in algae.

Common baskettails are flying. These odes only fly during spring.

Male common baskettail.

Foam flower is blooming at the reflective, contemplative Wander Away in Catch the Wind.

Foam flower.
Closer look at flowers.

Virginia bluebells too, are in flower at Wander Away.

Virginia bluebells.

Pawpaw is now flowering. Its brownish, maroon, or burgundy flowers start out as green, darkening as they mature.

Pawpaw flowers start as green.
Darken to burgundy.
Pawpaw blossoms.

A buprestid beetle was seen clinging to the windshield of the Ranger golf cart. It belongs to a group of beetles know as metallic wood-boring beetles. Most metallic wood-borers are rather colorful with glossy iridescence. This one lacks the color but is distinctive in pattern. April is the time to look for the adults of this specific beetle. The larvae remain boring through and feeding inside trees for two or three years.

I call this beetle Virginia pine borer. It’s also know as southern pine beetle, sculptured pine borer…and in Latin, Chalcophora virginiensis.

Virginia pine borer.

Green anoles are feeling the seasonal urge and have begun to display to both attract potential mates and discourage male rivals.

Green anole with peeling snout.
A display for all concerned parties.

You never know what or who you’ll see on the outdoor loop. I happened to come across Graphic Designers, Jennifer and Savannah while I walked by the Farm Yard.

Jennifer (left) and Savannah.

You can pretty much count on running into one of the museum’s rangers while hiking the loop.

Ranger Becca patrols Catch the Wind.

And on the Dinosaur Trail.

Ciara pauses to say hello while prepping for the Dino Egg Hunt.

Finally, there were a handful of green treefrogs hanging out on the grass stems in front of Into the Mist. These frogs all seemed to be from last year’s crop of tree frogs, about half or smaller than adult size.

One of half a dozen or more green treefrogs outside Into the Mist.

See you out there.

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