One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

This bright flower is one you’ve probably seen all summer.

Mystery #103

But what is t?

Check with you later!

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We had a correct guess today! Thanks, Sarsinart! Hummingbirds do love these large nectar-providing flowers and as you can see from the photo, yes the Trumpet Creeper vine runs rampant!

Trumpet Creeper Vine

Trumpet Creeper, Campsis radicans, flows over other plants, making them look like blooming bushes or trees. But if there is nothing to grow on, the woody stems will shoot upright a short ways and appear like a shrub. It’s easy to identify with 7-11 leaflets per leaf, not at all a vine mistaken for poison ivy. And for all this talk of the plant growing unchecked, it is a native plant!

Thirsty Thursday

Folks, we had a big visitor at the pond this week.

Green Heron

That’s an Green Heron approaching to hunt. He thinks we don’t see him, if he stalks slowly.

Heh. He forgot he’s out in the open, not among shrubs. That’s where those stripes do help, but we squirrels are smarter than that! Probably comes from a lifetime of looking through branches.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Bet many of you see these little yellow butterflies around.

Mystery # 102

Do you know what they’re called? Check in later!

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The Clouded Sulphur is a common mid-sized butterfly, but not all yellow as this view makes you think. This is the underside of the butterfly’s wings. The topside has a black edging along the wings, which you can make out as what looks like a shadow on this little fellow. If you could see the topside, you could tell if this butterfly is a male of female: the males have a solid black edging, but in the females the edging contains blurry spaces or spots of yellow showing through.

We hope you noted the antennae on this butterfly and go back and compare it to the feathery antennae of the moth we showed last Sunday and the Skipper from midweek! That’s your quick way to break apart these flying nectar feeders!

Thirsty Thursday

To this old squirrel, dragonflies around the ponds are dragonflies. But for The Squirrel Nutwork, Nutmeg insisted I do a bit of looking into this huge one at the pond near us.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer

The big ones are called skimmers, or perchers. Turns out this one is fairly easy to identify. You count the spots. If you count the dark ones, it’s a Twelve Spot. If you count the white ones, it’s a Ten Spot.

But the white spots don’t appear until the dragonfly matures, but the black ones are, so this dragonfly more commonly goes by the name Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Regardless of the names, dragonflies are pretty interesting in the scheme of ponds. They are carnivore eaters, snatching other insects, usually while on the wing.

dragonfly caught by a bird

But they are also food for other carnivores, begin snatched themselves while flying!

One of Nature’s Mysteries To Solve

Hey there!

We squirrels don’t see these insects too often.

Mystery #101

That’s a hint! Give me a guess if you know what this is.

~~~

We squirrels are daytime animals, this insect–a moth–comes out at night. All moths have feathery antennae, which they use to sense the scent of potential mates. We squirrels do not have noses that good! This Cecropia Moth can ‘smell’ a mate a mile away. And pretty much that’s all these moths do! They are the largest moths native to North America and they only live two weeks, doing little more than search for a mate, lay eggs and die.

Cecropia Moth

I’m twitching my tail over that. It doesn’t sound like much of a life compared to the fun Nutmeg and I have racing through the treetops.

This all happens in the spring–you won’t see Cecropia Moths around this time of year. I have to admit I’ve had this mystery in my leaf nest for a few months. The baby caterpillars spend the summer growing into huge caterpillars that winter over in large cocoons.

Like I said, we squirrels don’t see many of these moths, so I don’t remember others to compare it with. But this is a fairly large antennae on this one, and the males are supposed to have the larger antennae.

Let us know if you see any large caterpillars this fall!