Monday, July 20, 2020

‘Trees in Trouble’ Zoom conversation

On July 23 at 7 p.m., all are invited to join a virtual Cary Science Conversation featuring forest ecologist Gary Lovett. Gain insight into the forest pest problem, hear updates on the newest threats, and discover policy actions we can take to protect trees.

Trees play a critical role in keeping people and the planet healthy. They filter air pollution, reduce flooding, cool neighborhoods, provide wildlife habitat, and store carbon that would otherwise contribute to climate change. Unfortunately, trees are in trouble.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, July 17, 2020

Asian Giant Hornet – Fact vs. Fiction

When the Asian Giant Hornet was discovered in Washington State Dec.19, it gave rise to a series of eye popping headlines and news stories.

The DEC has released a breakdown of the facts on this species in order to clear up any misinformation or anxiety in the general public. In North America, the Asian Giant Hornet has only been spotted in a small area in Washington state and British Columbia. There have been no AGH found anywhere else in the continent, east coast included.

New York has some common look-alikes, including the European Horney which is half an inch to an inch and a half in length, while the AGH is one to two inches in length.

The Asian Giant Hornet also does not attack humans unless you attempt to handle them, you are within 10 or so feet of their nest, or you are approaching a beehive that they are currently attacking. Their sting is more painful then the usual hornet due to their enormous size, but human deaths caused by AGH strings are extremely rare – about 12 per year worldwide. To put it in perspective, there are about 60 deaths a year in the U.S. alone from bee and hornet stings. However, the AGH will attack and destroy honeybee hives.

To find more information on these hornets, visit the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets website. If you think you have found an Asian Giant Hornet, review the ID materials on the AGM website, or email photos and location information to [email protected].


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Monitoring for European Cherry Fruit Fly – You Can Help

I love cherries! Especially sweet cherries. They’re delicious fresh, high in fiber, and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and beneficial antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may lower your risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and/or obesity.

Growing consumer education about the antioxidant health benefits of cherries appears to be creating increased demand for the fruit. Domestic cherry consumption in the United States is now around 2 pounds per person per year.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, July 13, 2020

How the Honey Pot is Filled

Honey is the only food made by an insect that is eaten both by humans and the insect itself.  Bears, badgers and other animals also eat honey and have long been raiding the winter stores of their winged friends to harvest this tasty treat. 

Honey is a very stable food that naturally resists molds, fungi and other bacteria, allowing it to last for years without refrigeration.  It is well known that honey is made by a colony of honey bees living in a nest or in a hive if kept by a beekeeper.

A typical bee hive will house about 60,000 bees, most of them workers, industriously making honey and the honeycombs in which the honey is stored.  That’s a lot of honey bees, working very hard to produce honey for the colony.  It takes about 556 foraging bees to visit 2 million flowers, just to make a pound of honey!

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Getting started with bird watching

During this pandemic one of the safest forms of recreation is birding. It’s an activity you can do away from crowds in the woods, or if you have space, in your backyard.

If it’s not an activity you’re familiar with, we have you covered.
Recently, Explorer contributor Molly Ormsbee produced a video on the topic that you can find on our website. In the video, birder and photographer Larry Master provides tips about bird houses, feed, and other information to get you started.

“Hearing the sounds of the birds and seeing them is a great, great therapy. It’s just endless entertainment if you’re interested in nature,” says Master.
» Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 5, 2020

This Pollinator Hums but is Not a Bee!

Hummingbirds are some of the most vibrant and aerobatic creatures witnessed here in the Adirondacks.  They are known as hummingbirds because of the humming sound created by their beating wings, which flap at high frequencies audible to humans. They hover in mid-air at wing-flapping rates that vary from around 12 beats per second to an excess of 80 beats per second, the smaller the species the faster the wing flapping.

There are more than 300 species of hummingbirds found exclusively in the Americas from Alaska to Chile and are classified as the smallest bird species. With most of this species measuring 3–5 inches in length and weighing about the same as a penny or .09 oz. The runt of these species is the bee hummingbird that is approximately 2 inches long and weighs less than .07 oz.  

» Continue Reading.


Friday, July 3, 2020

Learn About our State Reptile, the Snapping Turtle

This time of year many people are seeing snapping turtles digging in their yards or swimming in home ponds. Snapping turtles and other turtles make their nests in easily dug soil, so they may lay their eggs in backyards and gardens. If the nest can be allowed to remain, hatchlings will emerge in August or September but sometimes overwintering until spring. If the area where the nest has been laid must be disturbed, contact your regional wildlife office for guidance.

Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) are often described as aggressive, but a better term is defensive. They try to avoid confrontation and are more likely to defend themselves on dry land. When they are on land, try to give them some extra space, and they will move on. In fact, if you see one on land it is usually a female who is looking to lay eggs. Snappers spend most of their lives in the water, where they will generally swim away from people when encountered and are usually docile.

Unfortunately, like many turtle species, snapping turtles face serious threats—being struck while crossing roads or collection for the food and pet trade. It is illegal to collect or relocate a snapping turtle without a permit, and they can only be hunted in season with a valid hunting license.

Learn more about snapping turtles in the April 2017 Conservationist (PDF).

Photo by Marcelo del Puerto.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Great Gray Owl: One handsome bird

If nature were a fashion show, the Great Gray Owl might qualify as the most handsome owl, with its grey mottled plumage, inflated bonnet like head, expansive facial disk, penetrating yellow eyes, white mustache and a look of perpetual surprise on its face. And yet the great gray is a bag of bones only half full, with its skeleton dramatically smaller than the large physical appearance created by the fullness of its plumage. 

The Great Gray is not as heavy as the Snowy Owl or the Eurasian Eagle Owl, and it lacks the incredible crushing power that the talons of the Great Horned Owl possesses, but in terms of length, it is the largest owl in the world, averaging two to three feet in length, but only one and a half to four pounds in weight, with a wing span which can reach five feet. As with other birds of prey, females are slightly larger than males.  

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Sharing ‘the buzz’ about native bees

There are an estimated 4,000 species of bees native to North American and range in size from carpenter bees, which are over an inch long, to tiny Perdita bees that barely reach 1/16 of an inch. 

Native bees range in color from black or brown with yellow, orange, white, or pearl-colored markings. Others have body parts in metallic green or blue. Some are furry, while others are almost hairless. 

Bees belong to the insect order Hymenoptera, which means “membrane-winged.  These insects possess two pairs of wings, a distinct “waist,” and mouthparts adapted for biting or chewing. Bees are distinguished by their branched body hairs which are helpful in trapping pollen grains, and their wide leg segments. 

The common names of bees often reflect nesting styles and other behaviors. Carpenter, mason, plasterer, leafcutter, digger, and polyester bees are named for the females’ nest-building techniques, whereas orchard, gourd, and alkali bees are named for their preferred habitat. 

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Discover Wildflowers Right Outside Your Door

You can find wildflowers just about anywhere! Look for wildflowers at your local park, in your backyard, in fields and forests, and along roadsides. Not only are they nice to look at, but can be food for wildlife, including pollinators.

Learn more in the Conservationist for Kids pollinator issue (PDF). Wildlife may eat the leaves, flowers, seeds or stems.

Below are some species of native wildflowers:

» Continue Reading.


Friday, June 26, 2020

What’s in a name: Joe Pye weed

Purple weed named Joe Pye June 22-28 is National Pollinator Week! To celebrate, we’re highlighting Joe Pye weeds (Eutrochium spp.), native essentials for any pollinator garden. There are several Joe Pye weed species. All have tall leafy stems with flat or rounded heads of small but bountiful shadowy pink flowers. Joe Pye weeds are an attractive garden choice not just because of their popularity with bees and butterflies, but also because of their hardiness. These tough perennial flowers can withstand a wide range of conditions including high summer temperatures and a lack of water. In ideal conditions, they do prefer slightly moist soils, and in the wild, you can often find them growing in wetlands. The flowers bloom in late summer when many other flowers begin to wane.

Have you ever wondered who Joe Pye was? According to legend, Joe Pye was a Native American herbalist who used a local plant to cure a variety of illnesses including typhoid fever. For years, it was unknown if Joe Pye was a real person or a botanical myth until research confirmed the plant’s name originated from the nickname of Joseph Shauquethqueat, a Mohican chief who lived in Massachusetts and New York in the 18th and early 19th centuries (Pearce, Richard B and Pringle, James S. (2017). Joe Pye, Joe Pye’s Law, and Joe-Pye-Weed: The History and Eponymy of the Common Name Joe-Pye-Weed for Eutrochium Species (Asteraceae), The Great Lakes Botanist, 56(3-4):177-200.). 

Celebrate National Pollinator Week by adding some native plants to your backyard or container garden. We’ve got you covered for some ideas to start with – check out our website for a list of native suggestions (PDF).

Photo by Danielle Brigida, Flickr


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails: Wings of the Woodlands

The eastern tiger swallowtail lives in deciduous woods along streams, rivers and swamps and can be seen flying along the roadways here in the Mountains. Eastern tiger swallowtails are loners but are known to be quite friendly to humans and have been observed following people around their yard or in Fields.  

Males are yellow or yellow-orange with black tiger stripes. Their wings are bordered in black with yellow spots, and there are black “tiger stripes” running across the top of their wings. Their long black tails have blue patches on them.

Females can range in color from the yellow of the male to an almost solid bluish-black. The black form of the eastern tiger swallowtail is most common in the southern part of its range in areas also inhabited by the pipevine swallowtail, a butterfly that has an unpleasant taste. The black form of the eastern tiger swallowtail may be an example of deceptive coloration using mimicry by pretending to be the poisonous pipevine.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

National Pollinator Week: Who are the pollinators?

Pollinators are animals and insects that carry pollen from one plant to another. Pollinators are responsible for much of our food and flowers and are responsible for the reproduction of 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat.   In order to understand pollinators, we need to know a little bit about plants.

Just like animals, flowering plants need to mate. But how can an organism spread its genes without being able to meet up with others of its species and this is where pollinators come in.  Pollinators are animals of all types that visit flowers and take away their pollen. Pollen is a sex cell of plants and is essential for reproduction. As pollinators move from flower to flower, they deposit the collected pollen, basically allowing the plants to mate. 

Many flowers attract insects and animals with the promise of a sugary liquid called nectar.  Their smell and bright petals advertise fresh nectar to passing insects and other flying pollinators like hummingbirds.  In return for the gift of nectar, the flower deposits pollen on whatever comes to visit.  Pollen is like the sperm of plants – and is the way that plants spread their genes and mate with other plants in the same species.

Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes and include species of insects, birds, and mammals. 

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

DEC studies fisher populations

Fisher provided by DECDEC staff, in partnership with researchers from SUNY ESF, are conducting a study to better understand what drives changes in fisher populations in the Central Adirondacks specifically, and more widely across the Northern Zone.

With the help of a number of trappers, fishers are live-captured during the winter and adult females fitted with GPS collars to locate and monitor dens and kit production. The combination of real-time GPS location data, as well as trail cameras deployed at maternal den sites, help estimate kit production and survival.

Ultimately, DEC will use data on the reproductive potential of Northern Zone fisher populations and gain a better understanding of population dynamics.

For more information on fishers and their management in New York, visit DEC’s website.


Friday, June 19, 2020

Operation Pollinator Rescue 

Pollinators are vital to creating and maintaining the habitats and ecosystems many animals rely on for food and shelter. 

Over half of the diets of fats and oils come from crops pollinated worldwide by pollinators alone and facilitate the reproduction in 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants.  Pollinators are needed in the production of over 130 different human food crops and are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat and beverages we drink. 

A world without pollinators would be devastating.  As nature lovers and educators, the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge (in Wilmington) and SkyLyfeADK are collaborating to implement an extensive pollinator project named Operation Pollinator Rescue. 

» Continue Reading.



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Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.