The day began with a mosquito attacking me before I got out of bed, and it went downhill from there. Cheer yourself up by listening to my tale of woe about a long day during the Adirondack bug season, when mosquitoes provide the wake-up call, blackflies and deerflies assault you for hours, and no-see-ums gnaw you to sleep in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.
Posts Tagged ‘insects’
Like it or not, they’re waiting for you. Legs reach out, legs with highly receptive sensory organs on them, and they know you’re coming. Brush past the wrong blade of grass, and you’ve got a hitchhiker, one that could possibly make you sick. What to do? Listen and learn about how ticks play the game of life and how you can beat them in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.
The Wild Center will celebrate some of your favorite creepy crawlies, at BuzzzFest on Saturday, July 5th. BuzzzFest honors the creatures that make the world go round, from dragonflies to monarchs and all the buzzing, chirping and crawling things in between. This year there is a special tip of the antennae to honeybees.
Participants will be able to pet some crazy creepy crawlies from the Utica Zoo Mobile, join a dragonfly safari, visit The Butterfly Garden or talk with a bee hive expert to show see how to raise your own bees. Historical beekeeping gadgets and pictures from the Adirondack Museum will be featured. » Continue Reading.
The overwhelming abundance of pesky insects in and around aquatic areas in the Adirondacks from late spring through mid summer can discourage travel to these picturesque settings, however, the hordes of bothersome bugs that thrive in wetlands help support the rich diversity of life that occurs around these places.
Among the birds that seek out mosquito, black fly, and deer fly infested streams, swamps and shrubby lake shores is a common and vocal warbler whose voice regularly echoes across these watery habitats. Despite its small size and effective protective coloration, the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) can be seen by anyone passing through its domain as it bellows out its characteristic song from a perch that temporarily makes this Adirondack resident fairly conspicuous. » Continue Reading.
On his way to becoming an internationally recognized scientist for his work on Monarch butterflies and the evolution of warning coloration in nature, Professor Lincoln Brower first tickled the funny bone of the scientific community with his elegant research and photos of “barfing blue jays” and proved that milkweed toxin protects Monarchs.
As a young scientist at Amherst College in the 1960s, Dr. Brower proved that the toxin that Monarchs ingest from feeding on milkweed plants as caterpillars is so potent at sickening birds that a blue jay once exposed to them in a careful lab experiment, and then given other foods for a month, would vomit at the sight of a Monarch. Dr. Brower’s photos of the unlucky jays, published in the Scientific American in February 1969, still circulate on the internet.
Adirondack residents will have the chance to hear Dr. Brower discuss that famous experiment and his subsequent decades of research on Monarch biology as well as the current threats to their survival in a lecture at The Wild Center, 7:30. p.m. Thursday, June 26. » Continue Reading.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a …? In September of 2012, I spied something fluttering wildly on the lavender phlox in front of my house. At first I thought it was a hummingbird, but as I moved closer I discovered it was a huge butterfly – the largest I’d ever seen, with a wingspan of about six inches. I rushed into the house to get my camera.
The butterfly was a challenge to photograph, its wings a blur as it hovered and darted from flower to flower, sipping nectar with its long tongue. The upper side of its wings were black, with a band of yellow spots from wingtip to wingtip. Another yellow band led diagonally from each wingtip to each wing “tail.” The tails were long, with yellow spots edged in black. On the underside, the coloration was similar to a tiger swallowtail – pale yellow with thin black stripes. I consulted my butterfly guides and determined the fabulous creature was a giant swallowtail, a cousin to our common Canadian tiger swallowtail. » Continue Reading.
Around the time when the puffy, spherical clusters of seeds appear on dandelions, male hummingbirds are engaging in their courtship flights, and hoards of black flies arrive when the air become humid, June bugs make their annual appearance during the evening around porch lights, street lamps, and well illuminated windows.
When indoors at this time of year after dark, it is common to hear the sound of this hefty, hard-shelled bug repeatedly flying into a screen, continuously beating its wings against a window pane, or buzzing around an outside light, as if attempting to get directly into the source of illumination. » Continue Reading.
Ever since humans invented agriculture and started moving from continent to continent, they have taken plants with them. In most cases imported, non-native plants do not spread much beyond the bounds of horticulture. But the exceptions are increasingly worrisome to biologists. Removed from the pests and diseases that kept them in check in their natural habitats, some plants multiply explosively. They can smother native ecosystems in a matter of a few years.
Some of these invasive plants, such as bush honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, phragmites reed, and purple loosestrife, are all too familiar in our region. As if that’s not enough, we must now add a new menace to the list. The latest member of this rogues’ gallery is garlic mustard, a pungent herb in the cabbage family. » Continue Reading.
There are grounds for my suspicion; flowering plants are proven masters of deception. For instance, the sundew uses sparkling droplets of sticky “faux dew” to ensnare and digest curious flies; bee orchids dupe male wasps into wasting their copulatory efforts on floral structures that look and smell like a female wasp. And what about humans? As I labor on behalf of flowers, fertilizing, tilling, watering and sweating, I sometimes wonder if I’m being led down the proverbial garden path. Exactly who’s cultivating whom? » Continue Reading.
When my parents would plant the garden they’d usually have a smudge burning. They’d stand near this fire of grass and green leaves and let the smoke infiltrate their clothes, hoping it would deter the black flies. And when I worked with DEC forest ranger Lawrence West, he had a novel approach to the smudge: making it in a metal fire bucket so we could carry it around as we worked in a particular area.
The tune “Bucket o’ Smudge” is in memory of Lawrence, my folks, and all who battle the bugs with smoke.
You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/berggrenfolk/bucket-o-smudge
I walked into my bathroom late one night and was horrified to see something that looked like a tick with scorpion pinchers as large as the rest of its body. It was crawling up the wall. I managed not to scream, and after a moment’s reflection, began to get excited. I was looking at an example of that elusive and beneficial order of arachnids, the pseudoscorpions!
Pseudoscorpions look like miniature tailless scorpions. They are related to scorpions, but only distantly, like those third cousins you only ever see at weddings. They use their disproportionately large pinchers to grab invertebrates that are even tinier than they are, including mites and springtails. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack backcountry is a fascinating place to visit. It provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, where slow traffic, demanding bosses and other aspects of the daily grind are left far behind for the relaxing solitude that is increasingly rare in the modern world. Tranquility, outstanding photographs and a satiation of peace and quiet are just a few takeaway benefits of spending time in the remote backcountry.
It is not all forest bathing and new age communing out there, as these positive aspects of a backcountry adventure are not the only things making their way home with us. There is a whole host of nefarious backcountry things that may show up in your gear, your home, or heaven forbid, yourself.
» Continue Reading.
Weather anomalies impact the lives of most creatures, including humans, and this year’s protracted winter season is slowly taking its toll on people that dislike the snow and cold, as well as on various members of our wildlife community. While all animals native to the Adirondacks have evolved the ability to survive the rigors of a harsh and prolonged winter, some of the recent arrivals to the region may not be faring as well in this unrelenting, sub-arctic weather siege.
Over the past decade or two, the climate in the Adirondacks has slowly warmed enough to allow numerous forms of life to creep northward and expand their geographic range into our lowlands and valleys. For example, several birds, like the tufted titmouse and wild turkey are appearing more, as are some mammals like the gray squirrel and in the very southern realm of the Park, the opossum. However, the greatest influx of new residents probably lie in the vast array of invertebrates that exist in every ecological setting throughout the Park. » Continue Reading.
The fields and forests of the Adirondacks support many forms of animal life, even during winter, yet many of our wildlife residents are next to impossible to glimpse. Some, like moles, shrews and voles prefer an existence below the surface of the snow, while others such as fisher, bobcat and ermine have adapted a shy and secretive lifestyle causing them to spend nearly all of their time in remote sections of dense woodlands where visibility is limited, making a chance sighting rare. Others, like flying squirrels and owls conduct their affairs under the cover of darkness and seldom are viewed.
One small bird, considered by ornithologists to be widespread throughout the Park year round, is likewise noticed only on rare occasions, despite its regular foraging activities during the light of day. The brown creeper is a slim, chickadee-size bird with mottled brown plumage on its head, back, sides, and tail, which closely resembles the color and pattern of the rough-textured bark that covers many types of mature trees. » Continue Reading.
It’s economical, sustainable and keeps you in shape, not to mention that nothing feels so good as a seat by the woodstove on a sub-zero night. What’s not to like about heating with wood? Certain things do bug people. The mess, for one. Stacking and splitting can get old. Adjusting the ‘thermostat’ may involve a trip to the woodpile. And occasionally, unexpected guests arrive.
Firewood, I’ve discovered, comes from “trees” which are covered in “bark,” under which insects can hide. As wood brought inside warms up, it feels like winter’s over to these critters, who gleefully sally forth. Inevitably, insects and homeowners are both disappointed. » Continue Reading.
Winter seems to have come early to the Adirondacks, as below zero temperatures and periodic bouts of measureable snowfall have been a part of our weather pattern since the last few weeks of November. The arctic air that has regularly swept across the region has made a sizeable dent in everyone’s wood pile, placed a strain on car batteries and forced many to wear Christmas sweaters on a daily basis.
The intense cold has also pushed the frost line down in numerous spots, which greatly impacts the existence of those creatures that attempt to survive this season by burrowing into the soil. It is difficult to determine how deep the frost line has advanced, as this critical feature of the winter environment varies greatly from one spot to another. » Continue Reading.
On a sunny winter day you may notice tiny, dark flecks bouncing on the snow, often concentrated near the bases of trees or collecting in footprints and other indentations. While snow fleas are the size of actual fleas, don’t worry about infestation — they’re not interested in either you or your pets (please don’t take that personally). Try not to step on them, as they’ve given us the means to improve both organ transplantation and ice cream. » Continue Reading.
The arrival of weather with temperatures favorable for snowmaking, blustery northwest winds, and damp, unstable air that produces periodic bouts of flurries forces many forms of wildlife into a less active routine and causes them to spend more time in some type of shelter. As the length of their daily confinement to a nest or den increases, there is an expansion of the population of tiny organisms that make their home on the skin of many forms of wildlife.
While vast stretches of wilderness serve the ecological needs of numerous warm-blooded animals, the microenvironment that exists at the very base of a mammal’s dense coat of fur provides countless invertebrates with the space they need in which to carry out their life cycle. » Continue Reading.
If you’re observant, you’ve noticed them in fall and winter: peculiar lumps that bulge from the stems of certain goldenrods. If you go ice-fishing, you may slice open the lumps and pluck out the grubs inside for bait.
Preparations among the members of our wildlife community have been underway for weeks, if not months, for the arrival of snow and temperatures low enough to freeze the upper layer of soil. Most bugs are genetically programmed to enter a dormant stage of their life in advance of this onset of adverse weather, and the mammals of the area are well along in the process of modifying their physical structure (accumulating fat and growing a thick layer of fur) in order to cope.
Many species of birds have either left, or will soon be exiting, our region because of the inhospitable conditions building throughout the northern latitudes. Among our migratory birds is a member of the woodpecker family forced to leave because of its preference for pecking at the soil, rather than on trees, for its meal of bugs. The northern flicker has body shape, plumage characteristics and pecking talents similar to its non-migratory relatives; however this common seasonal resident of the Adirondacks is now on its way, or will be leaving shortly, for a more temperate climatic zone. » Continue Reading.