Now is the time when you will likely see furry caterpillars, black with an orange stripe in the middle, crossing roads or sidewalks. These are the much celebrated “woolly bears,” or the larvae of the Isabella tiger moth. There are two generations of wooly bear caterpillars per year, and the second generation overwinters in logs or under bark. Most of the caterpillars seen in the fall are on a quest to find a suitable overwintering location. Read more
In June 2013, the first Upper Delaware BioBlitz took place in Northern Wayne County, PA, during which teams of scientists and volunteers documented 1,024 distinct species of plants, animals and insects during a 24-hour period (learn more at upperdelawarebioblitz.com).
The effort provides a snapshot of the biodiversity of life on the Starlight, PA property, and has since led to the first “Photos of Nature in the Upper Delaware Watershed” contest. Read more
September is here, and many animals in our area are preparing in some way for the onset of colder weather to come. Some insects and many birds have already started to migrate to warmer climes, and it is this migration behavior that enables researchers to get a “snapshot” of the wellbeing of a particular species and its habitat. Read more
While autumn brings a welcome array of rich colors to the region as the light sharpens and foliage begins to change, it also signals the departure of the brilliant green ruby-throated hummingbirds that enhance our lives throughout spring and summer.
By early fall, hummingbirds begin their long journey south, bound for Central America. Many will cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight. Males may begin migration by early August, with females lingering into mid-September. Read more
Herons in our region can be found just about anywhere there is water. Lakes, ponds and rivers all have the potential of providing good habitat for herons as well as other aquatic bird species. Herons are hunters, and their diet consists mostly of fish, with some amphibians, insects and even small mammals rounding out the fare. Herons are somewhat shy of humans and will fly off if approached too closely by persons on foot, or in watercraft. Read more
A spectacular specimen of Phaeolus schweinitzii has grown at the base of a dying hemlock tree in my yard over the past month. Commonly known as dyer’s polypore or velvet-top fungus, this attractive mushroom is a pathogen of conifers that causes the roots and base of the tree to rot. While it is not edible, it can be used for making dyes of green, yellow, brown and gold. The fungus is named after Lewis David de Schweinitz, an important early American mycologist born in Bethlehem, PA. Read more
Along the shore of any given body of water, whether it’s a lake, river or stream, insects are usually very obvious. There may be some flies hatching out, butterflies and moths, and even some pesky mosquitoes or other biting bugs. The pesky biters are in jeopardy themselves from another group of insects that are on the prowl—the odonata family, or dragonflies and damselflies. Read more
The Upper Delaware Region is currently blessed with abundant high quality water resources. Protecting them is critical to future life forms, both human and non-human. Read more
August is upon us, and nature’s clock is letting us know in the form of nightly katydid serenades and blooming cardinal flowers along streams and wetlands. If you have seen cardinal flowers in the wild, you may also have seen many hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies near the brilliant red blooms of the cardinal flower. This striking trait of the cardinal flower is an adaptation of the plant to help attract pollinating fauna; the birds and insects, in turn, exhibit behavioral adaptation when they are attracted by brightly colored plant inflorescence when gathering nectar or pollen. Read more
Experiencing the natural world through the eye of a camera lens is a satisfying activity that comes with plentiful rewards. For shutterbugs who enjoy spending time photographing on Pennsylvania public lands, two upcoming photo contests might be of interest. Read more