An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide


2015 Naturally Curious Calendar

10-10-13-14   2015 Naturally Curious Calendar 842I have had a number of inquiries about whether or not there will be a 2015 Naturally Curious calendar, and I’m happy to say that there will be. If you would like one, you can place an order via email ( The subjects on this card stock calendar are: January – Snowy Owl; February – American Robin; March – Striped Skunk; April – Eastern Chipmunk; May – Red Fox kit; June – Polyphemus Moth; July – Common Loon family; August – Gray Treefrog; September – Beavers; October – Pitcher Plant; November – Moose; December – Blue Jay. Many, but not all, of the photographs have been used on this blog. The cost is $30 (includes shipping) and I will send you my mailing address when I confirm your order. Calendars will be mailed upon receipt of $30.00 and your mailing address. Makes a great Christmas present! Thank you so much.


10-3-14 loon on fall water IMG_0386

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1883

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Redbelly Snakes Giving Birth & Heading For Hibernation Sites

10-2-14 red-bellied snake2 IMG_0980Redbelly snakes come in two colors – brown and gray, both of which have red bellies. About a foot long, this secretive snake tends to inhabit woodlands with small openings and lots of cover. Mating takes place primarily in the spring after emerging from hibernation, and females give birth to 1 – 21 young in the late summer or fall. Mass migrations of redbelly snakes take place in October and November, when these snakes travel to their hibernation sites. Redbelly snakes often hibernate in groups of their own and other small snake species, taking refuge in anthills, abandoned animal burrows and old building foundations.

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

Black Widow Spiders

9-29-14 northern black widow spiderBlack widow spiders have been found in every state. They are a lot less numerous in New England than further south — their abundance is inversely related to the latitude — however, the northern black widow, Latrodectus mactans, (pictured) is here. According to Dr. William Spear, a noted arachnologist and provider of the information in this post, a black widow in northern New England would need a very sheltered site, such as the south-facing walls of buildings, south-facing sides of ditches, or perhaps even in barns and sheds, in order to survive.

The web of the northern black widow is a rather small (for the size of the spider) messy tangle, usually constructed close to the ground. The spider is generally not found on the web, but in a silk-lined pocket to one side and above the web. The silk of widow spider webs is unusually tough, and with experience one can learn to differentiate it from other spiders’ silk just by testing the web with a stick or pencil.

If knowing that black widows cohabit your state causes some discomfort, rest assured. Their bites are very rare and almost never fatal. The few fatalities that have been recorded are generally from children or persons weighing less than 100 pounds, or with precarious health. (Photo taken by Evan Kay in North Pomfret, Vermont in September, 2014; submitted by Caroline Robbins)

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

Earwigs Mating

earwig2 -horizontal175Earwigs are elusive insects, primarily because they are nocturnal and during the day tend to hide in crevices. When we do see them, the first thing often noticed is their cerci, the pair of forceps-like pincers at the tip of their abdomen. These pincers are used primarily to capture prey (earwigs are scavengers for the most part, but some are omnivorous and prey on other insects) and for copulation. Male earwigs have curved pincers, while females have straight ones. After mating in the fall, the male and female earwigs spend much of the winter together, tucked away in a crack or crevice. By the time spring arrives, the male has left and the female has laid her eggs (the sperm stays viable within her for several months), which hatch in about a week’s time. Earwigs are one of few insects that provide maternal care for their eggs and offspring. (Photo is of male earwig eating the outermost tissue of a milkweed pod.)

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

Indian Cucumber Root Fruit Ripening

9-25-14 indian cucumber root IMG_3876Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) is a member of the Lily family that grows to be one to two feet tall and has one or more whorls (several leaves coming off stem at same point) of leaves. Plants that are going to flower usually put out two tiers of leaves, with their distinctive flowers arising from the second tier. The flowers nod down below the leaves, while the fruit that forms and ripens in September rises above them.

At the same time that Indian cucumber root berries turn bluish-purple, the cluster of leaves below them turns partially red. Each berry contains several seeds which birds and small rodents are attracted to. Although the Iroquois reportedly used an infusion of the crushed dried berries and leaves to treat convulsions in infants, human consumption of anything but Indian cucumber root’s tuber is not recommended (and the tubers should be harvested sparingly).

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

Gentiana clausa

9-17-14 gentian closeup IMG_0088The pictured gentian in today’s post was Gentiana clausa, not G. andrewsii. These two species, both referred to as bottle gentian, are very similar, but there is one very distinctive difference. The flowers of both have 5 blue lobes forming petals that are fused together by a connecting fringe, creating folds between the outside of the petals. In G. clausa the petals remain closed at the tip with those fringes hidden by the closed tip. In G. andrewsii, the fringes of the flower lobes are longer than the petals and are visible at the tip of the closed flower. No visible fringes means today’s photograph is of Gentiana clausa. Thanks to Jon Binhammer for bringing this to my attention!


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