Z is for Zebra Swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtails

A swallowtail, but of the zebra color variety. Black and white. Yes, it’s really real. And native. These little beauties are often found near water because their caterpillars eat the leaves of the Paw Paw tree, and Paw Paws live along water.

And so ends our 2013 Blogging A To Z Challenge. We’ve had fun folks, and Hickory is already after me to see if we get a survivor’s badge.  Me, I wonder what we’ll do tomorrow.

Y is for Yellow on Motionless Monday

Hey folks, the Blogging A To Z Challenge is coming to a close this week—and so is April! Are you ready for that? So today is ‘Y’ day.

a-to-z-letters-y

We have a yellow wildlife statue:

Yellow Butterfly statue

A yellow butterfly, we’ll call him for the sake of consistency.

And for a yellow plant, I’ve picked one we Virginia squirrels see every day: Yellow Poplar, one of many names for the native tree Liriodendron tulipifera.

Yellow Poplar leaves

Yes, the leaves turn yellow in the fall, but the flowers look like tulips, so it’s also called the Tulip Tree and Tulip Poplar. It’s one of the fastest growing hardwoods and the tallest in the eastern US.

Yellow Poplar Tree

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there! It’s Sunday and our blog’s break for good behavior from the Blogging A To Z Challenge. But more importantly, it’s The Squirrel Nutwork’s Sunday column, sometimes known as What is it?

If you’re a new reader joining us from the Challenge, this is the day we post a nature photo, local to us in Virginia—unless otherwise noted—and ask you to make guesses as to what it is. The things may or may not be native to Virginia, I—this is Hickory Squirrel, by the way—am not picky! This column is my brainstorm, and I guess because this is Mystery # 53, we are starting our second year of mystery posts. Sorry I missed the anniversary last week. Oh, well, that’s Nutmeg’s thing, not mine.

So here goes: Give me a guess for what you think this is!

Mystery #53

Check back with you later!

~~~

Did you give up? These are the flowers of the Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense.

Wild Ginger

Yep, this one is a native, a low growing ground cover that can not be harvested for seasoning your human food—that’s a different ginger plant with a huge root.  These purple flowers pretty much lie on the ground, under the leaves and if you’re thinking no self-respecting bee will ever get under there and find them, you’re right. Wild Ginger flowers are pollinated by beetles.

X is for Xylem…again

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Yeah, X is a hard one, so we’re repeating. Have a look at this stump.

tree stump

When the tree was in it’s last years alive, the Xylem was part of the living layer under the bark that ran the water (yesterday’s post!) up the tree to the leaves. SO even though this tress had rotted in the core, it still flourished because of its Xylem.

For more on Xylem, have a look-see at what I wrote last year!

W is for Water

…again. Yes, last year we talked about water on W day for the Blogging A To Z Challenge. In fact, I had that same stream picture in mind to use. Oops. Well, visit it here.

pond at reston National Golf Course

This one’s for Ol’ Wally for being such a good sport and writing about a non-water related plant on his Thirsty Thursday column. Water is so important to us, how could we not feature it on W day…again!

V is for Virginia Creeper on Thirsty Thursday

Fine, fine, this plant is related in no way to water, or ponds, although this particular individual grows at the edge of the yard that has that new pond we’ve been watching.

Virginia Creeper climbing fence

I’m posting it as my ‘V’ feature for the Blogging A To Z Challenge because Virginia Creeper is one of the most popular reasons human folks find us, searching under ‘five leaf vine’. And of course, I couldn’t find anything starting with ‘V’.

Virginia Creeper

Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, is a vine. It grows along the ground and up anything to which it can attach its aerial roots. It is not poisonous. Nutmeg has expounded on this vine that many humans mistake for poison ivy back in June, so I’m not gonna repeat her words. Go look at descriptions and photos here!

U is for Underwings

Underwing Moth

Underwings are a group of moths that fall under another group of moths—you go look it up if you need that level of detail. We don’t! We just know that these moths, for all the world a gray splotch blending into bark, sometimes flash those lower wings at us when we run upon them. It scares the beegeebees out of us squirrels, and we’ve seen many a bird take off. No one likes surprises in their food, making Underwings very well protected.

S is for Squirrel on Motionless Monday

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Welcome to another duel post: combining my regular column, Motionless Monday, with our Blogging A To Z Challenge. Yes, S is for squirrel, and for those of you who have been following our blog, I’ll add, yes, Nutmeg has approved my using squirrel for another of the letters, because this squirrel is not about us Eastern Gray Squirrels!

First, our wildlife garden statue, for those of you new to us, my–this is Hickory, if you didn’t know–regular Monday column features a human ornament chosen to liven up a garden when real wildlife isn’t around.

squirrel statue

In keeping with today’s letter and topic, I’d like to present the Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel!

Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel

They kind of look alike, don’t they?

You may think squirrels are common, as common as acorns. Indeed, some are. Others are not, just like trees are becoming a little scarce. We gray squirrels learned to adapt to human habitat. Some squirrels, like the Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel, did not. They thrived in the mature stands of oak, hickory and pines that grew in the coastal peninsula of land between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Three states now cover this peninsula—Delaware, Maryland and Virginia—so that’s how this specific squirrel was named.

It took a bit of detective work on my part to hunt down a Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel—they are endangered, you know. But once I did, Lob agreed to write for us about his life out on the eastern shore of Virginia in Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Look for his posts with us in early May!

One of Nature’s Mysteries To Solve

Hey there! It’s spring, and I hope you’ll pardon me for springing another new leaf on you!

Mystery #52

Heh, heh. We squirrels are feeling extra bouncy after a line of thunderstorms moved through and the temperatures dropped back to what Virginians’ consider spring. Have at this one and I’ll check your guesses later.

Have a great day!

~~~

Hey, back with you!

These little heart-shaped leaves are from the Eastern Redbud, Cercis Canadensis. As the name implies, the flowers are the showier and more noticeable part of this understory tree, giving us easterners a stunning pink-purple wash underneath the taller trees.

Eastern Redbud

It’s a native, but humans have also put their little spin on species, giving some of the altered trees different characteristics, like purplish leaves—to go with the flowers, I suppose. At any rate, the tree puts out its flowers just before the new leaves, so you should be seeing these soon.