An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Archive for September, 2010

Grasshoppers – 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.

MATING GRASSHOPPERS

Insects have adapted to winter in a variety of ways – some migrate and most overwinter as eggs, larvae, pupae or adults. Grasshoppers mate this time of year (note smaller size of male on top), and then deposit their eggs in the earth before dying. As this photograph demonstrates, their drive to procreate is so strong that even handling them does not cause them to separate from each other. (Please excuse my dirty finger.) I am spending the next week in the Canadian bush – blog entries will resume upon my return!


Porcupine – 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.

PORCUPINE

This afternoon I happened across an ailing porcupine in the woods and I had the privilege of approaching it within just a few inches. At one point this prickly rodent yawned, allowing me to see its four large incisors. Because it wasn’t feeling up to snuff, the porcupine tolerated my scratching its nose, the only place besides its belly where there are no quills.


Wood 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.

WOOD FROG

It’s not unusual to run across wood frogs in the woods during the fall. In the next month or so they will be disappearing under the leaf litter as well as under logs and rocks where they will hibernate through the winter. Wood frogs are one of four frogs in New England (spring peeper, gray treefrog and boreal chorus frog are the other three) that can survive being frozen, thanks to the production of glucose which acts like antifreeze. When the temperature rises they simply thaw out and their metabolism increases.


Box Elder Bugs – 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.

BOX ELDER BUGS

If you make a habit of looking at the base of box elder trees this fall, you may be rewarded with the sight of hundreds of box elder bugs (Boisea trivitatta) congregating prior to hibernating. While these insects feed on a variety of plants, box elder seeds are their food of choice (very little damage is done to the trees). Various developmental stages of box elder bugs can be found at these hibernation sites, including the immature red nymphs as well as the black adults. In addition to gathering at the base of box elders, these bugs also seek shelter inside cracks and crevices of exterior house walls. If these allow access to the inside of a house, the bugs will enter. Even though they are harmless, box elder bugs are considered a household pest by those whose domiciles are invaded – be forewarned that they will stain red and produce a foul odor if squashed. Several successive warm winters has resulted in a high population of these insects.


Beechnuts – 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.

BEECHNUTS

This time of year American beech trees are dropping their prickly fruit on the forest floor, where their husks lay open, revealing one or two triangular nuts. Beechnuts are edible, though humans find them quite bitter (not as bitter as acorns, however). They are an important source of food for many birds and animals, including wood ducks, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, blue jays, tufted titmice, black bears, porcupines, flying squirrels, red and gray squirrel and eastern chipmunks.


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

Ravenel’s stinkhorn fungus (Phallus ravenelii) is aptly named for the foul odor it exudes and its horn-like shape. For obvious reasons this fungus belongs to the order Phallales and genus Phallus. Henry Revenel has the dubious distinction of having this phallic growth named after him. Your nose will let you know when you are near one -- its odor can be likened to decaying flesh or feces. Although it repels humans, the fungus’s odor attracts flies and other insects. The brownish head consists of spores; when the flies land on the head, the spores stick to their legs and are subsequently dispersed.

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.

RAVENEL’S STINKHORN FUNGUS


Wild Turkeys – 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.

WILD TURKEYS

You usually see wild turkeys walking in a field or through the woods as they forage for food. If they are in a hurry, however, they are adept at running. If they sense danger or are threatened, male turkeys, or toms, usually run away, whereas females, or hens, tend to escape by flying. The maximum distance a turkey can fly in a single flight is one mile, and their maximum flight speed is 60 miles per hour.