Posts Tagged ‘insects’

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Woolly Bear Caterpillar Hibernation

Wooly Bear by Adelaide TyrolWoolly bear caterpillars seem to be everywhere these days – creeping across the lawn, along the road when I’m walking the dog, hidden in the wilted cut-back of the perennial garden. Last week I found a woolly bear curled up in a shoe I’d left on the front porch.

These fuzzy, black-and- brown-banded caterpillars seem intent these days to get somewhere. Where that is – and how they know – is a mystery. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Botflies

botfly by adelaide tyrolGrowing up in a rural town, I was exposed to a lot of the wonders in nature through hunting. Specifically squirrel hunting, which is how many kids get their start.

I don’t do much anymore, but I try to get out a few times each autumn on those first cool days. With luck, I can put up enough squirrels for a deer camp stew in November, over which the people in camp can reminisce about being young. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Study Tracks Massive Loss of Birdlife Since 1970

bird decline chartA study published in the journal Science reveals that since 1970, bird populations in the United States and Canada have declined by 29 percent, or almost 3 billion birds, signaling what has been considered a widespread ecological crisis.

The results show tremendous losses across diverse groups of birds and habitats — from iconic songbirds such as meadowlarks to long-distance migrants such as swallows, and backyard birds such as sparrows. More research is needed to pinpoint primary causes for declines in individual species. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Water Pennies Have A Unique Approach to Survival

Water pennies Imagine for a moment that you travel on all fours like other self-respecting quadrupeds. Extend your imagination yet a little more, and with it your body, so that a large dome-shaped shell-like structure extends out to cover you in all directions.

From above, a predator would see only a disk with a snug fit to the ground on all sides. Now shrink dramatically and move into the nearest fast-flowing stream: you are well on your way to becoming a water penny beetle larva. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Insect Apocalypse: What We Don’t Know May Bite Us

insects around the world by adelaide tyrolLast February you might have seen news stories about an impending insect apocalypse.

“Huge global extinction risk.” “Plummeting insect numbers threaten collapse of nature.” “Insects are dying off at a scary rate.” And those were just the headlines on online articles from New Scientist, The Guardian, and Fortune.

Whew. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Pool Owners, Others Should Report Invasive Beetles

Adult Asian longhorned beetle in a poolNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is encouraging New York pool owners to participate in the Division of Lands and Forests’ annual Asian Longhorned Beetle Swimming Pool Survey during the month of August.

This is the time of year when Asian longhorned beetles (ALB) emerge as adults and are most active outside of their host tree. The goal of the survey is to look for and find these exotic, invasive beetles before they can cause serious damage to our forests and street trees. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Burying Beetles: Nature’s Grave Diggers

nicrophorus tomentosusA regular chore of mine is to dispose of the mice and moles trapped in our home. I place them on a 4 x 5-foot patch of dirt and rock – which I have named the grave site – beside my woodshed. There, they typically disappear overnight, taken, I had assumed, by our resident barred owl, or perhaps a skunk, raccoon, or bobcat.

Then one day last July, as I was stacking my wood for the coming winter, I noticed a small black and orange beetle around one of the disposed mice. Fascinated, I watched for over an hour as a tomentose beetle (Nicrophorus tomentosus) dug a trench alongside the mouse and ever so slowly rolled the mouse into it. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 20, 2019

Locals Beat Lily Leaf Beetle

Scarlet or red lily beetle courtesy wikimedia user CharlesjsharpThe lily, native around the world in the temperate parts of the northern hemisphere, has been an important cultural icon for millennia. Depending where you stand on the globe, it can represent humility, purity, unbridled sexuality, the Province of Québec, wealth, or a thriving garden, to name but a few possibilities.

The flower is mentioned in The New Testament, such as in Matthew 6:26: “Behold the lilies of the field: They toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” The message, as I understand it, is that one should not waste energy worrying how to clothe oneself, because even wild lilies are garbed well. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Mosquitoes: Life Under Tension

Mosquito A good friend was in touch; her son was enduring allergic reactions to mosquitos and, like any good parent, she sought solutions. I told her that the most practical, non-toxic way to deal with the problem was to consider a mosquitos’ lifecycle, and interrupt it where it starts.

Mosquitoes begin their lives in eggs laid singly or in rafts, in most cases on the surface of water. We purchase mosquito egg rafts at Saint Michael’s College to run student experiments with the hatching larvae. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Native Lupine, Pollinators and the Karner Blue

lupine by adelaide tyrolLupine is one of the most spectacular flowers of early summer, painting long stretches of roadside with shades of purple and blue. Thanks to this tall, showy plant, even a stop-and-go drive to Boston’s Logan Airport has its moments of beauty (as I recently had occasion to observe). Full sun and dry, sandy soil are just right for lupine.

Although many people don’t know it, the lupine we typically see in the Northeast is “not from around here.” It’s a non-native plant that was imported to eastern gardens from parts of the western U.S. and escaped cultivation. Our native lupine is similar, but it is seen far less often and is, unfortunately, in regional decline. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Short, Productive Life of the Luna Moth

luna moth On early summer nights I sometimes see large, pale green moths with long, twisted tails fluttering near our porch light. Later, I often find them dead on the ground. These beautiful moths are luna moths, named for the Roman goddess of the moon. Each of their four wings has a transparent, moon-shaped eyespot.

The luna moth (Actias luna) is one of the largest species of moths in North America, with a wingspan of three to four inches. It inhabits deciduous forests, where its green wings blend in among the leaves. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Hummingbird Moths, A Primer

Hummingbird Moth One afternoon last summer, my partner Rick called me out onto our deck to see a tiny hummingbird. Not just tiny, but the tiniest hummingbird he had ever seen. My curiosity piqued, I walked out and there it was – hovering in front of the bee balm, sipping nectar and beating its wings at an impossible rate. It was a rich rust color and about an inch and a half long. By comparison, the smallest ruby-throated hummingbirds are twice that length. This was truly the most diminutive hummingbird imaginable.

Or was it? » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Little Things: Pollination at its Finest

honeybee by Jackie Woodcock

Here in the Adirondacks the stars are our night light, the crickets and bull frogs our bedtime lullaby.

This is a place where the simple things are seen and not overlooked. Mountain life affords us an advantage, serene surroundings to ponder about the little things and the opportunity to witness nature at work up close and personal. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Questions Remain In Controlling Spotted Lantern Fly

lantern fly by adelaide tyrolHave you seen a spotted lanternfly? If you live in New England, and answered “no,” that’s good. But we’ll have to check back with you next year.

The lanternfly is one of the latest foreign invasive insect pests to become established in North America. And it isn’t a picky eater. Dozens of crops and native trees are go-to foods for this destructive bug. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Welcome Infestations: Dragonflies and Damselflies

dragonfly anatomy courtesy Wikimedia user M A BroussardIt is not too often one hears about a good-news infestation. I’d like to come across a bulletin on a new invasive money-tree that was poised to spread through the region. Granted it would produce in foreign currency, but we could make peace with that situation, I imagine.

A money-tree invasion is unlikely, but some areas will soon be overrun by hordes of insects programmed to eat black flies, mosquitoes and deer flies. Dragonflies and damselflies, carnivorous insects in the order Odonata, date back more than 300 million years. Both kinds of insects are beneficial in that they eat plenty of nasties. Of the estimated 6,000 Odonata species on Earth, about 200 have been identified in our part of the globe. I’ve been told it’s good fortune if one lands on you, but the luck is probably that they terrify biting insects. » Continue Reading.