What’s in the Smartweed?

At the very end of the boardwalk which leads into Explore the Wild there is a patch of smartweed. Smartweed, as you know, will make your mouth smart if you eat it. That is, smartweed is hot and spicy and may make your mouth hurt, or feel the heat, should you eat the stuff. I’m convinced that this patch of smartweed remains in the Wetlands due to its undesirable taste. Even the invasive red swamp crayfish shuns the weed (most ofRead more


Last week I tweeted about a Canada Goose apparently eating smartweed in the Wetlands. I also mentioned that not many creatures will eat the pungent weed. Other then a few caterpillars, the Smartweed Caterpillar (Acronicta oblinita) and the Tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens), I personally haven’t witnessed much in the way of smartweed consumption among our fauna (there seems to be a caterpillar adapted to eating just about every plant in existence). There’s little doubt that many creatures use smartweed for cover, shelterRead more

Well, well, look what showed up…

As if the revealing of the Alpacas and the running of the Pumpkin Patch Express weren’t enough excitement for one day, guess what else made an appearance here at the Museum today? That’s right, it’s a Smartweed Caterpillar (Acronicta oblinita). This is one of only two caterpillars, or any other creature, that I’ve seen actually eating smartweed. The other caterpillar is a Tobacco Budworm (Heliothis virescens) which, as the name suggests, eats the buds and flowers of the plant. BothRead more

A Common Thread

Each fall it seems that spiders appear from nowhere, crawling along the ground, stretching out their sticky webs across our favorite hiking trails, and even entering our living spaces. The truth is, they’re with us the entire summer, we simply may not notice them because they, along with their webs (if they construct them), are much smaller and less obvious than in fall. Above and below you will see some of those spiders, all of which were found along theRead more