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┬áthe invasive red swamp crayfish shuns the weed (most ofRead more

A Fishing Expedition

At the lower terminus of the Boardwalk in Explore the Wild I noticed a small snake (perhaps 18 inches at best) coiled in the smartweed that grows there. The snake’s head stuck out of the water, ready to pounce, its tongue flashing out to smell the air. There were also many minnows splashing about the shallow water. Some of the fish were in large groups feeding, a feeding frenzy. Others were in small groups swimming in and out of theRead more

Handsome Katydids and Pretty Spiders

It’s well known that late summer to early fall is the time of year when there are more insects about than perhaps at any other time of year. If you’ve been walking around outdoors lately you may have noticed many more grasshoppers than earlier in the season. Many of the grasshoppers and katydids that were hatched out this past spring and early summer have now grown into adults and are happily munching away at the grasses and tree leaves aroundRead more


A few weeks ago as I ambled down the path of the Dinosaur Trail I noticed a black-bodied caterpillar coming up the path directly at me. The caterpillar was about an inch and three quarters in length and had long, white, silky hairs (setae) sparsely spaced along its length. I hadn’t seen one of these caterpillars before so I took a photo for later indentification. As I continued down the path I saw another black caterpillar with long silky hairRead more

Autumn Meadowhawk!

The first meadowhawk of the season was seen on the 7th of October. It was an Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) and was on the smartweed that grows at the end of the boardwalk in the Wetlands. The following day I saw two more, so keep a sharp eye out for this small, bright red dragon.Read more

Early Fall Colors

Sycamore’s white upper bark stands out against the clear blue skies of fall. This tall hardwood does especially well near water. Look up and enjoy the view as you stroll the outdoor exhibit areas of the Museum. The deep purple berries of Pokeweed are quickly disappearing, leaving only the magenta stems of the plant to glisten in the afternoon sun. Gray Catbirds relish Poke Berries as do many of the other mimic thrushes and thrushes that are passing through ourRead more