I’m delighted to announce that my latest book, Naturally Curious Day by Day, has just been released. Like Naturally Curious, it takes a look at species and events that are likely to be seen/occur throughout the year in the Northeast. However, my new book presents new photos and text in a day-by-day format, as opposed to month by month. Each day of the year has anywhere from 2 – 4 entries/photos on subjects as varied as slime mold, sapsuckers and salamanders. Readers of my blog will be familiar with some of the material, as the book contains edited/expanded versions of many of the past six and a half years of posts. The book also includes new entries, short essays and sidebars. A concerted effort was made not to duplicate information found in Naturally Curious.
Naturally Curious Day by Day can be purchased in bookstores and online. If your local bookstore doesn’t have it, they will be able to order it from Globe Pequot’s distributor. I’m hoping it will help those stumped by what to give someone for Christmas! 456 pages, 1,300+ photos. Thank you!
Once leaves start to fall, one often observes white, fuzzy patches along the branches of Speckled Alder (Alnus incana). These fuzzy patches consist of colonies of aphids feeding on the sap of the shrub. In order to get enough nitrogen, they must drink volumes of sap, much of which is exuded from their abdomens as a sweet liquid called honeydew. The honeydew accumulates and hardens onto the branches as well as the ground beneath the shrub. Yesterday’s Mystery Photo was the honeydew of Woolly Alder Aphids (Paraprociphilus tessellates) which has been colonized by a fungus known as black sooty mold, a fairly common phenomenon.
Woolly Alder Aphids produce white wax, or “wool,” filaments from their abdominal glands. Clustered together, these aphids look like a white mold. If disturbed, the individual aphids pulse their abdomens in unison – apparently an effective defense mechanism.
Woolly Alder Aphids, also known as Maple Blight Aphids, have two host plants at two different stages of their lives. In the fall they lay their eggs on Silver Maple trees. The eggs hatch in the spring and the aphids feed on the maple leaves. During the summer a winged generation flies from maple leaves to alder shrubs and establishes colonies. In the fall, some of these aphids fly to Silver Maples and lay eggs, while some overwinter in the leaf litter beneath alders.
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