When a Promethea Moth caterpillar, one of our giant silk moths, is ready to pupate at the end of the summer, it strengthens the stem, or petiole, of a leaf on its host plant with silk and then attaches the silk to a nearby branch, assuring that the leaf will remain attached to the tree. (Imagine having the instinctive foresight in your youth that this caterpillar had!) The caterpillar then curls the leaf around itself and spins its cocoon inside the curled leaf. The cocoon dangles from the host plant throughout the winter and in early summer the moth emerges. Now is the perfect time for finding a Promethea Moth cocoon, as last year’s leaves are gone on most trees, and this year’s buds have yet to open. Look for a tree or shrub that has just one dead leaf hanging from one of its branches. (Cecropia caterpillars favor black cherry, poplar, ash, maple, oak and willows trees among others.)
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If you’re looking for a present for someone that will be used year round, year after year, Naturally Curious may just fit the bill. A relative, a friend, your child’s school teacher – it’s the gift that keeps on giving to both young and old!
One reader wrote, “This is a unique book as far as I know. I have several naturalists’ books covering Vermont and the Northeast, and have seen nothing of this breadth, covered to this depth. So much interesting information about birds, amphibians, mammals, insects, plants. This would be useful to those in the mid-Atlantic, New York, and even wider geographic regions. The author gives a month-by-month look at what’s going on in the natural world, and so much of the information would simply be moved forward or back a month in other regions, but would still be relevant because of the wide overlap of species. Very readable. Couldn’t put it down. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about the natural world, but there was much that was new to me in this book. I would have loved to have this to use as a text when I was teaching. Suitable for a wide range of ages.”
In a recent email to me a parent wrote, “Naturally Curious is our five year old’s unqualified f-a-v-o-r-I-t-e book. He spends hours regularly returning to it to study it’s vivid pictures and have us read to him about all the different creatures. It is a ‘must have’ for any family with children living in New England…or for anyone that simply shares a love of the outdoors.”
I am a firm believer in fostering a love of nature in young children – the younger the better — but I admit that when I wrote Naturally Curious, I was writing it with adults in mind. It delights me no end to know that children don’t even need a grown-up middleman to enjoy it!
November 23, 2012 | Categories: A Closer Look at New England, Adaptations, Amphibians, Animal Adaptations, Animal Architecture, Animal Communication, Animal Diets, Animal Eyes, Animal Signs, Animal Tracks, Anti-predatory Device, Ants, April, Arachnids, Arthropods, August, Bark, Bats, Beavers, Beetles, Bird Diets, Bird Nests, Bird Songs, Birds, Birds of Prey, Black Bears, Bogs, Bugs, Bumblebees, Butterflies, camouflage, Carnivores, Carnivorous Plants, Caterpillars, Cervids, Chrysalises, Cocoons, Conifers, Courtship, Crickets, Crustaceans, Damselflies, December, Deciduous Trees, Decomposition, Deer, Defense Mechanisms, Diets, Diptera, Dragonflies, Ducks, Earwigs, Egg laying, Ephemerals, Evergreen Plants, Falcons, Feathers, February, Fishers, Fledging, Fledglings, Flies, Flowering Plants, Flying Squirrels, Food Chain, Foxes, Frogs, Fruits, Fungus, Galls, Gastropods, Gills, Grasshoppers, Gray Foxes, Herbivores, Herons, Hibernation, Honeybees, Hornets, Hymenoptera, Insect Eggs, Insect Signs, Insects, Insects Active in Winter, Invertebrates, January, July, June, Lady's Slippers, Larvae, Leaves, Lepidoptera, Lichens, Mammals, March, Metamorphosis, Micorrhiza, Migration, Millipedes, Mimicry, Molts, Moose, Moths, Mushrooms, Muskrats, Mutualism, Nests, Nocturnal Animals, Non-flowering plants, North American River Otter, November, October, Odonata, Omnivores, Orchids, Owls, Parasites, Parasitic Plants, Passerines, Plants, Plumage, Poisonous Plants, Pollination, Porcupines, Predator-Prey, Pupae, Raptors, Red Foxes, Red Squirrel, Reptiles, Rodents, Scat, Scent Marking, Seed Dispersal, Seeds, Senses, September, Sexual Dimorphism, Shorebirds, Shrubs, Slugs, Snails, Snakes, Snowfleas, Social Insects, Spiders, Spores, Spring Wildflowers, Squirrels, Striped Skunks, Toads, Tracks, Tree Buds, Tree Flowers, Tree Identification, Trees, Trees and Shrubs, turtles, Vernal Pools, Vertebrates, Vines, Wading Birds, Warblers, Wasps, Waterfowl, Weasel Family, White-tailed Deer, Winter Adaptations, Woodpeckers, Woody Plants, Yellowjackets, Young Animals | Tags: Christmas Gifts, Naturally Curious, Naturally Curious by Mary Holland | 2 Comments
Sawflies are often mistaken for wasps, but there are subtle differences in appearance, including the thick “waist” of a sawfly compared to the threadlike waist of a wasp. Their common name comes from the females’ sawlike ovipositor which they use to cut into plants and lay their eggs. Certain species of sawflies overwinter as pupae inside cocoons that they attach lengthwise to twigs. These cocoons are fairly small (the pictured cocoon is just over ¼” long). Sawfly cocoons persist even after the adults emerge in the spring, as they are made of very tough material. Look for capped cocoons during late fall and winter, and empty cocoons, sometimes with the cap still attached, the rest of the year.
Most tussock moths, such as this Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae), are densely covered with hair-like structures called setae that bear microscopic barbs. Many people are sensitive to these setae and get an itchy rash if they handle a Hickory Tussock Moth. Even touching the cocoon of a tussock moth can cause irritation, as the setae are woven into it. Many tussock moths display warning coloration with their black, white, red, orange or yellow setae. What looks like two Hickory Tussock Moth larvae in the photograph is actually one adult caterpillar (left) and its shed skin (right). You can find these larvae feeding on hickory, walnut, ash, oak and many other trees in the woods right now. After spending the winter pupating in a cocoon in the leaf litter, a small spotted, tan moth emerges.
September 3, 2012 | Categories: Adaptations, Arthropods, Caterpillars, Cocoons, Defense Mechanisms, Insects, Invertebrates, Larvae, Lepidoptera, Metamorphosis, Molts, September | Tags: Arctiidae, Caterpillars, Defense Mechanisms, Hickory Halisidota, Hickory Tussock Moths, Larvae, Lophocampa caryae, Metamorphosis, Setae, Tussock Moths | 1 Comment
If you’ve never heard of a Spongilla Fly, you’re not alone. We don’t see its larval stage, as it lives under water, where it feeds exclusively on fresh water sponges. You can find these sponges living in the still waters of large rivers, lakes and wetlands. The beautiful silken net, as well as the small cocoon inside the net, are created by a Spongilla Fly larva after it crawls out of the water and chooses a spot on land on which to pupate (in this case on a seat cushion). The entire structure is less than ¼” in diameter.
July 31, 2012 | Categories: Arthropods, Cocoons, Insects, Invertebrates, July, Metamorphosis, Pupae | Tags: Cocoon, Insect Metamorphosis, Metamorphosis, Net-winged Insects, Neuroptera, Pupa, Sisyridae, Spongilla Fly | 4 Comments