It’s starting to feel very much like fall around here. Days are getting shorter, leaves are changing color, temperatures are cooler (some of us have already seen a frost or two; even a freeze), air conditioners are silent, pumpkin-spiced food and beverages are available at several coffee shops and fast food establishments, schools have reopened (sort of), and fall webworms are here en masse in places all across the North County.
Monarch butterflies are an iconic species, easily recognized by their vibrant orange and black wings speckled with white dots and can be seen feeding in fields and open areas here in the Adirondacks.
The Eurasian Lynx entered North America across the Bering Land Bridge about 2.5 million years ago, in the first of two waves. Glaciers waxed and waned, alternately blocking and opening Beringia, as well as migration paths down to what would become the U.S. border and Canadian province areas, a classic example of how one species gets separated by changing land and sea features, the two groups then evolving in different directions, until representatives of one group can no longer mate, thus resulting in two species. The second wave, coming with melting of northern glaciers evolved into the Canadian Lynx.
Most people have seen the small, flying murals called butterflies. Nature’s living pieces of art that remain an endless show of life and beauty drawn upon wings of flight. The carrier of this splendor, a delicate butterfly.
A butterfly has four wings – two on each side. They are broken into two forewings and two hindwings. The wings are attached to the second and third thoracic segments. When a butterfly is in flight, the wings move up and down in a figure-eight pattern.
Butterfly wings are made up of two chitinous layers. Each wing is covered by thousands of colorful scales and hairs. These wing scales are tiny overlapping pieces of chitin on a butterfly wing only seen in detail under a microscope. They are attached at the body wall and are modified, plate-like setae or hairs.
Get to Know New York’s Natives: Cow Parsnip
Caution: This native plant can cause burns on skin
If you follow DEC on any social media platforms, it’s hard to miss that giant hogweed season is upon us. Giant hogweed is a large invasive plant from Eurasia that contains sap which can cause burning on your skin. Giant hogweed is found in many parts of the state (particularly Western and Central NY), but there are many look-alike species that can often get misidentified as this plant.
White meadowsweet (Spiraea alba) is a native flowering shrub that blooms in much of New York State during July and August. The plants grows to be about four to six feet high and is found in sunny areas with damp soils such as meadows (as the name suggests), fields, and wetlands.
White meadowsweet can be identified by its five-petaled white or pinkish flowers. A splash of stamens cause the flowers to appear fuzzy or frilly from afar. The stem has lance-shaped alternative leaves that are toothed around the edges. This member of the rose (Rosaceae) family is popular with a variety of butterfly species and is a common sight across the eastern United States and Canada.
Wednesday morning I rolled out of bed a little before 5 a.m. to meet up with Explorer intern Francesca Krempa to see if we could catch a glimpse of a moose in the early dawn hours.
Francesca is working on a story about the health and size of the moose population, and in these pandemic times, she had been unable to find a biologist or guide to go out into the field on a moose survey.
One of the most amazing activities in a honeybee’s lifetime is rarely seen by humans and occurs by the workings of numerous architect-minded, honeycomb-building, wax-producing bees.
Building comb is a multi-skill effort, involving bees strung from comb to comb like a tapestry of lacework, hanging together leg to leg in sheets between the frames to build new comb in a process called “festooning.” While festooning, bees measure the open space, create blueprints for future comb, act as self-made scaffolding, promoting stretching of the abdomen which aids in wax production.
Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) begin their annual fall migration in mid-August. These butterflies are the great-great-grandchildren of the monarchs that migrated to Mexico last fall.
You can help monarchs by providing food (nectar) and keeping those areas protected:
- Turn a portion of your lawn into a wildflower meadow—plant milkweed or other native wildflowers.
- Delay mowing areas with milkweed until later in the fall.
- Avoid using herbicides—they kill all life-stages of monarchs (egg, caterpillar, cocoon, and adult).
- Report sightings of adults online. View a map of the sightings so far this year.
Don’t know when their migration peaks in your area? Check out this migration chart.
Photo by Sandy Van Vranken.
Although the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb (run by SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry) has been closed, the team there has produced a video series called “Newcomb Naturalist Notes.”
They produced five episodes this summer, with more planned in the future. Click the links below to learn
If you have trees on your street or in your yard, this is your friendly reminder to do a seasonal check-in. Take a look at your trees and ask yourself the following questions:
- Are the trees healthy looking?
- Are there many dead branches?
- Do you see signs of significant damage by insects, or signs of any invasive forest pests?
- Do you notice any potential cause for concern such as off-color leaves, new fungal growth, or cavities?
If you have concerns, you may want to contact a certified arborist or tree service. Checking in with your trees periodically and noticing any unusual changes is the first step in making sure they can continue to help our Earth for years to come.
Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program’s (APIPP) final Summer Learning Event is right around the corner, and this topic may be of interest to a wide array of anglers, gardeners, hikers, and foresters alike. Invasive jumping worms are a creepy crawly creature coming our way from other parts of the state with destructive consequences for forest habitats among other environments.
Spread by human activities from being used as live bait during fishing trips, to being carried on shoes and pets within dried mud, or brought into gardens in potted plants and compost – these voracious decomposers damage soil structure, root systems, and negatively impact forest habitats. They are present in many other parts of New York State, but limited in the Adirondack Region, and our hope is to keep it that way by growing awareness!
Title: Emerging Species – Watch Out for Jumping Worms
Date: Tuesday, August 25th, 10-11:30 a.m.
RSVP Link: Register online via APIPP’s website. Secure Zoom portal sent to your email upon registration.
2020 has been a boom year for the Gypsy moth caterpillar, and the Department of Environmental Conservation has been receiving reports of unusually high Gypsy moth populations and leaf damage in several parts of New York State.
Gypsy moths are not native to New York, but they are naturalized into the eco-system, meaning that they will always be in our forests. They tend to have a population spike every 10 to 15 years, but it is usually offset by predators, disease, and other natural causes. The caterpillars are beginning to disappear now as they transition into the next cycle of their lives and become moths.
One year of defoliation is probably nor going to kill your trees, but over the course of a couple years it typically leads to tree death. The DEC will be monitoring Gypsy moth caterpillar populations to predict whether a major defoliation should be expected.
For more information on Gypsy moths in New York State, visit the DEC’s website.
The Ticonderoga Historical Society presents a free public program titled “Mapping the Adirondacks” at the Hancock House, 6 Moses Circle, Ticonderoga on Friday, Aug. 21 at 7pm.
“Mapping the Adirondacks” will kick off the museums latest exhibit, which features more than 18 military, political, and romantic maps from its collection, some of which are being shown for the first time.
Pete Nelson, writer, lecturer and history buff will be presenting the program. His articles regularly appear in numerous regional publications (including the Almanack) and he teaches mathematics and history at North Country Community College. Currently he is writing a book on early Adirondack Surveyors, a passion which merges his love for both history and mathematics.
There are three vultures in the United States: the California Condor, the Turkey Vulture, which has the widest range, extending from Canada down into South America, and the Black Vulture, the smallest of the three.
If I wanted to observe black vultures 25 years ago, I went to the Everglades or the Texas Gulf Coast. About 15 years ago, I began seeing black vultures in swampy areas of northern New Jersey, and, with warming climate, they’re now showing up in the southern Adirondacks.
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