A Hooded Surprise

Top Photo: A whir of wings and slap, slap, slap of webbed feet on the water as the birds take off. If you’re the first person of the day to descend the boardwalk leading to Explore the Wild you may see the mergansers in close to or under the boardwalk rousting out any mosquitofish, aquatic insects or crayfish that may be hanging out in the shadows. The birds are shy. If the birds see you coming they may simply swimRead more

The March of the Soldier Flies

The water level in the Wetlands was low. The shoreline reached out a dozen feet or more from where it had been most of the spring, creating mud flats where there was once water. As I walked past the viewing area on the north side of the Wetlands, I noticed the mud sparkling in the sunlight. The mud appeared to be alive. There was something, many things, moving on the surface making the mud itself seem to crawl. I took severalRead more

Looking Down

Sometimes, it pays to look down. There are many creatures going about their lives at ground level. So, while you’re not looking up at the trees or the skies for birds or at the flowers for butterflies and other nectaring insects, keep at least one eye down where you walk, the ground, you might see something interesting.     At first, I wasn’t quite sure what the caterpillar in the above photo was. I thought it might be one of theRead more

Giant Waterbug w/eggs

I was on a mission to secure aquatic invertebrates from the Wetlands for Nancy Dragotta-Muhl (Learning Communities). It was Magic Wings Festival time and she wanted to have some insects on display at her table outside of the Butterfly House for folks to see as they wandered around the area listening to the rhythms of global music in the plaza. One haul of the net from the brown water of the Wetlands yielded two Giant Waterbugs, insects in the familyRead more


A few weeks ago I was standing on the boardwalk leading to the Wetlands Overlook staring down at the water below me. I noticed something moving very slowly just below the water’s surface. It looked like a walking stick. It could only be one thing, a Water Scorpion (Ranatra fusca). Water Scorpions are not scorpions, they’re aquatic insects. They’re called scorpions because of a whip-like projection at the rear of their bodies. The projection, which is nearly the length ofRead more