Motionless Monday

Hey there!

Your bizarre assortment of human yard decorations have increased! Will this ever end?

spider wildlife statue

Have a great week!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s fall, how about a leaf mystery?

Mystery #169

We’ll check in later!


The Black Tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica, always turns a beautiful color in our woods–though it might be reds to purples as you see here, or yellows and oranges.

Black Tupelo Blackgum tree leaves

Sometimes known as Black Gum or Blackgum, this native tree blooms in late spring and produces a berry that is high in energy for birds. You humans hardly ever see them because they are so small and get eaten very quickly.

The name ‘tupelo’ comes from the Native American Creek words “ito” for tree and “opilwa” for swamp. We don’t have many swampy areas where we live, so haven’t taken note of that. Maybe if they do live in wetter areas, the tree grows larger. Here in Northern Virginia, the Black Tupelo is a smaller, slow growing tree.

Black Tupelo tree

That’s one, in the center foreground, with the yellowish leaves, right beside the trunk of a mature Black Tupelo tree. Very pretty, and one we’d sure recommend you humans look at if you are picking out something native and helpful for wildlife!

Black Tupelo Black Gum tree leaves

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

We have a garden resident who has slowed down in the cool weather.

mystery #168

Many of you probably recognize this fellow, but if you’re a little hazy on your identification, throw a guess into the comments section.

I’ll be back later with the correct answer.


Yes, we had a correct guess today! The Eastern Garter Snake is very common in our suburban neighborhoods, but we wish more appreciated! This little snake is harmless and does so much to keep down mice, voles and even slugs. We won’t mention that the larger ones sometimes try to get into squirrel and chipmunk nests. Darn things.


This is an easy snake to recognize because it has two stripes running the length of its body. These white to yellow stripes make it hard for an enemy to tell the garter snake is moving, and–bam!–it’s gone before you know it!. The body color on garter snakes is splotchy and ranges from tan to brown to green. This makes them harder to see in the dappled sunlight on grass, mulch or the forest floor. They can swim and like to to catch fish and frogs. They can climb trees and like to eat baby birds.

No wonder this snake is so common–it eats about anything!

The Monarch emerged!

This morning we happened by those Passion Flower plants again and look what we saw!

Monarch chrysalis about to emerge

The Monarch was close to emerging. We got a few acorns hunted down and by the time we came back, the butterfly had broken out of her chrysalis.

newly emerged Monarch butterfly female.

She hung there while her wings expanded. Look at the fluid that dripped off of her.

Fluid from newly emerged monarch

Another time we ran by, she had moved into the open and was spreading her wings.

female Monarch butterfly

That’s how we knew this was a girl–no spots on her hind wings.


It’s a great feeling to see one be able to succeed at making it to the butterfly stage!

Warm fall days in the Passion Flower leaves


With these warm days, we still have active Variegated Fritillary caterpillars around the neighborhood. And they must be getting enough to eat!


This monarch chrysalis is well on its way to maturing, too!

monarch chrysalis