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Archive for August, 2010

Beavers – Welcome to a photographic journey through the woods, fields and marshes of New England

It’s hard to know who enjoys these last hazy, lazy days of summer more, humans or beavers…we may have to put on a few more layers in a few months, but at least we aren’t facing being sealed under the ice until spring.Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is being published this fall.

BEAVERS

It’s hard to know who enjoys these last hazy, lazy days of summer more, humans or beavers…we may have to put on a few more layers in a month or two, but at least we aren’t facing being sealed under the ice until spring.


Pickerel Frog – Welcome to a photographic journey through the woods, fields and marshes of New England

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is being published this fall.

PICKEREL FROG

There are two frogs, the pickerel (Rana palustris) and the northern leopard frog Rana pipiens), which look and sound somewhat similar. Both have long, snore-like calls (the northern leopard frog often has a “chuckle” at the end of the snore, which the pickerel frog lacks). Fortunately, if you can get a good look at the frog in question, identification lies within your grasp. The pickerel frog (in photograph) has dark, rectangular spots arranged in two rows running down its back while the northern leopard frog has rounded spots, usually outlined in a lighter color, irregularly covering its back. Of the two species, only the pickerel frog has bright yellow/orange coloration on the inside of its thighs. The pickerel frog has skin secretions which are toxic to many predators, but apparently not pickerel, for it derived its name from the fact that anglers had good luck when using pickerel frogs as bait for this fish.


Sumac Galls – Welcome to a photographic journey through the woods, fields and marshes of New England

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is being published this fall.

RED POUCH STAGHORN SUMAC GALLS

The colorful red pouch galls found on staghorn sumac are aptly named for the pink blush on their exterior. They can be anywhere from marble- to ping pong ball-size, and usually become obvious in late summer.  Inside the thin walls of this gall is one big hollow cavity, teeming with tiny orange aphids (Melaphis rhois). 


Katydid – Welcome to a photographic journey through the woods, fields and marshes of New England

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is being published this fall.

SWORD-BEARING CONEHEAD KATYDID

Insects are divided into about 30 major groups called orders. One of these orders is Orthoptera, which includes grasshoppers, crickets, katydids and a few other close relatives. Although many katydids look like grasshoppers, they are more closely related to crickets. Katydid antennae (like those of crickets) are at least as long as their body, and usually considerably longer. Males produce species-specific songs, made by rubbing together structures at the base of their forewings. If in doubt as to whether you have found a cricket or katydid, count the number of segments in the last section of each leg – katydids have four, crickets three. One group of katydids is referred to as “coneheads,” because their heads develop into a pointed or rounded cone. The only coneheaded katydid commonly found in the Northeast is the Sword-bearing Conehead (Neoconocephalus ensiger), pictured in the accompanying photograph. The male’s song is said to sound like a distant, fast-moving steam locomotive (in case anyone reading this is familiar with what a steam engine sounds like). They are capable of giving a mean bite, so be careful if you find one and handle it.


Scent Glands – Welcome to a photographic journey through the woods, fields and marshes of New England

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is being published this fall.

SCENT GLANDS

Many mammals have scent glands which they use to mark territory and advertise their presence to other members of their own species. These glands are often located around their mouth, eyes, paws and genital area. While deer have inter-digital glands located between their toes, members of both the cat and dog family have scent glands located on the pads of their feet. When these animals walk, they leave a scent trail on the ground, dispersing pheromones that convey critical information to members of their own species, such as their sex, age, reproductive status and health. While it is common knowledge that members of the weasel family, including skunks, weasels, mink, otters, martens and fishers, have anal scent glands, the fisher and marten also have scent glands on the metacarpal pads (large pad behind toe pads)of their hind feet. In the photograph, note the scent glands (dark spots) located on the metacarpal pad of a fisher’s foot.


Mycorrhiza – Welcome to a photographic journey through the woods, fields and marshes of New England

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is being published this fall.

MYCORRHIZA

Did you know that 95 % of all plants have access to nutrients and water they obtain only through a relationship with fungus? (A fungi are now considered closer to being animals than plants.) The mutually beneficial association between fungi and plants is called mycorrhiza. Fungi, lacking chlorophyll, cannot photosynthesize, so they connect (through their underground filaments, or mycelium) with the roots of plants that do make food, thereby obtaining needed sugars and starches. The plants benefit by having the additional fungal surfaces to absorb nutrients through; this association has also been found to benefit plants by increasing their resistance to diseases as well as drought.


American lady – Welcome to a photographic journey through the woods, fields and marshes of New England

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is being published this fall.

AMERICAN LADY CATERPILLAR

American lady butterflies are far more beautiful than their prickly larval stage would lead you to believe. Look for these caterpillars on plants in the Aster family, especially pussytoes and pearly everlasting, both of which are favorite foods. Often I have found the white flowers chewed into tiny bits and glued together with silk to form a shelter within which the caterpillar feeds. The photograph shows such a shelter dissected in order to reveal a resident American lady caterpillar as well as a recently-shed skin beneath it. Soon this caterpillar will form a chrysalis, pupate and emerge as an adult butterfly which will soon migrate south for the winter.


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