This colorful tiger moth (Lycomorpha pholus) can be found on flowers, such as goldenrod, only during the day. Caterpillars feed on lichens ingesting nutrients as well as a defensive chemical produced by the fungal component of the lichen, which is distasteful to predators. Flying adults, which can be orange, yellow or red can be found June-Sept. (Montana State University)
These brownish eggs were found on the underside of our zuchinni plants. These belong to the insect, Anasa tristis, commonly known as Squash bugs. Within 10 days, these eggs would have matured into nymphs, feeding on the sap found in the leaves or stem, with their pierce-sucking mouthparts. If left undisturbed, these nymphs would have disrupted the nutrient and water flow of the host plant, evidenced by yellow and brown spots as well as possible wilting. These nymphs would have developed into adults within 4-6 weeks, overwintering under plant debris or rocks. (They did not!)
While these insects do not carry disease, they can be particularly harmful to young squash and cucumber plants, so limiting the damage is the best control. The use of floating row cover in the seedling stage is recommended, followed by regular inspection of the plants, crushing any eggs and dropping any nymphs and adults into a bucket of soapy water. Trapping adult squash bugs under a piece of wood, where they will group together at night, then into the soapy bucket, also helps. Lastly, it is important to clean up all plant debris at the end of each growing season to reduce overwintering sites. (University of Minnesota Extension)
There are about 86 species of scarab beetles found in eastern North America. Adult beetles are quite large 1/2-1 1/4 inch, emerging from the soil at the end of spring, usually in June, hence the name. The adult female buries 60-75 eggs in the soil over a 2 week period, hatching as larvae, feeding on plant roots and decayed matter. These larvae are the white grubs often seen just under the turf and are a favorite food for skunks, voles and birds such as crows. After 1-3 years as larvae, pupation occurs and the adult emerges and the cycle begins all over.
While not harmful to humans per se, adults are voracious leaf eaters and can cause damage to gardens, pastures and golf courses. The grubs, being root eaters can destroy lawns in conjunction with certain mammals which will dig up the turf looking for them.
Displaying delicate fernlike leaves and white flowers resembling yellow-waisted pantaloons, hanging upside-down on a clothesline, it is one of Vermont’s early spring flowers. It flowers (Apr-May) just as bumblebees emerge after a long winter looking for nectar. The bumblebee’s proboscis is long enough to tap into the nectar, whereas the honey bee, having a much shorter proboscis, must look elsewhere. Known also as Dicentra cucullaria in the botanical world, it is closely related to Bleeding Heart, a common garden plant and to Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis) another woodland wild flower. All are considered toxic if ingested in large quantities and may cause minor skin irritation.
An early sign of Spring to look for in our forests are tree circles. At this time of year, trees absorb sunlight (which excites electrons, creating heat) which is then radiated outward, melting snow. The darker the bark, the more radiant heat is created and the wider the circle becomes. Snow, being white, does just the opposite, it reflects sunlight. These melting circles are not just limited to trees, however. Inanimate objects, such as rocks, etc. also exhibit this phenomenon.
Snow rollers are a rare winter weather phenomenon that occur when the conditions are just right. They are cylindrical snow balls, usually hollow, formed with the help of strong winds (30mph) and temperatures in the 37-39 degree range. A layer of wet, loose snow, preferably with an ice layer underneath is pushed by the wind across fields or down slopes. Gravity certainly helps! Snow rollers can be small or quite large (car size). They are also known as Snow donuts.
10/21/20 We have officially entered Stick Season as I observe that most maples, birch, and ash have given up their hold on this year’s leaves. The stark silhouettes are now framed by what remains—the beech, which holds its leaves to the end and the firs and pines. It’s a transition time between the heat of this summer, the artistry of fall’s colors and the rush of the holidays to come. It’s a time to slow down, catch our breath and enjoy the quiet of Stick Season.
9/9/20 Another great find, Chicken of the Woods, a very desirable, beautiful and edible mushroom. I found this shelf fungus growing on a declining Ash tree. It was easily identified by its bright orange top and sulfurous yellow pores on the underside. ( I also confirmed my identification with a knowledgeable mushroom forager.) I collected 5 pounds to bring home to clean, cook and freeze some for winter soups. Delicious!
9/8/20 One blue Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens) jumped and surprised me today, while working in my vegetable garden. The abnormal blue color is caused by the lack of the yellow pigment, a type of albinism. Remember, as children, we mixed blue and yellow together to make green? This blue frog, therefore is a rarity in nature, occurring in about 1:300,000.