We love a certain style of jack-o-lantern–yum!
Here’s a seasonally-appropriate mystery…
No wait, this is it!
Know what it is?
I’ll check back for your answers later!
We had a correct answer–indeed, this is a wolf spider. See those shiny spots on his head? Those are two of its eight eyes, and since they are larger than the other eyes, it helps casual watcher–we’re definitely casual watchers–identify wolf spiders from the other spiders this size, nursery web spiders. If you are outside at night this week–and we know many of you will be!–shine your flashlight in the weeds and bushes. Two small dots shining back might be a wolf spider watching you.
Wolf spiders do not weave webs. Instead, they pounce on they prey. Because they have no web they are the only spider to carry their egg sacs.
One of our readers admitted she doesn’t like spiders. Yes, many humans feel that way, especially when they grow this large! A wolf spider’s body grows to 1.2 inches–and the legs can extend in a diameter of 4 inches! That’s a spider we squirrels leap around.
But considering we’ve heard there are so many spiders in our world that you are never more than three feet from a spider, then you know we all gotta get along. That many spiders eat a huge number of insects…so we need spiders to stick around.
Want to learn more about wolf spiders? Wolf spiders.org will give you lots of facts, photos and videos to watch.
Eek! Hickory and I were leaping for some sunflower seedheads and this was hanging between the plants:
We ran carefully around it…
…and learned it’s a Marbled Orb Weaver. That’s a large spider anyway, but has anyone else noticed how large the spiders are getting?
Hickory chattered at me. “It’s late in the season and we haven’t had a freeze yet, so they are huge!”
I guess that means fewer bugs for next year, ’cause these guys have got to be eating a lot.
We see many of you humans placing pumpkins out this time of year…sadly, not for us. Years ago we saw a specially decorated one that we’ve never seen the likes of again. We thought our readers might enjoy seeing it again, even though it’s not technically a ‘wildlife garden statue.’
Nutmeg and I called it the ‘nature pumpkin.’ The leaves are real!
Have a great week!
We spotted this bedraggled creature near a storm drain.
Any idea what it is?
I’ll check back later for your guesses!
No guesses today? This is a little tough. We gave you just a hint with the corner of an eyespot showing… Not so limp from the rain, and…
…here are the wings spread.
And…it’s a Polyphemus moth, which, because of those eyespots, was named for a Greek giant with one eye in the center of his forehead–a cyclops. It’s one of the largest silk moths with a wingspread of 4 to 6 inches, and found almost all over North America, from Canada down into Mexico.
It skips Arizona and Nevada, which we squirrels first thought was because it’s dry,or maybe because its caterpillar food plants don’t live there.
But they feed on many tree species–maples, oaks, birch, hickory, willow and many fruit trees like pear and plum, so that can’t be the reason and the human scientists don’t really say. It is because it’s dry? If any of our readers know, give us a shout!
Folks, it’s been dry this fall. But this old squirrel, with his comfortable suburban life knowing which houses have a birdbath or backyard pond the humans keep filled, had no idea the local natural waterways were faring this poorly.
Yikes, that is low for our local pond.
We haven’t had a freeze–ha, far from it!–so the place was still abuzz with insects, like this male Autumn Meadowhawk.
Despite finding the pond in less than its best state, I’m happy I took the outing while our weather is balmy.
The other day we took a break from our acorn burying to rest in the shade on this stump.
Pretty soon Hickory was ready to run again, but I paused to peer at the stump edge. “There are two fungus types growing here, but I believe they are both Turkey Tail fungus,” I told him.
He perched beside me and swished his tail. “Nope. Only the striped one. The gold one might have the waves, but it’s missing the stripes.”
I compared the gray striped one to the plain gold one, then we left for acorn hunting again. Later that day I hunted down Miz Flora and asked her.
“He’s right,” she said. “The scientific name is Trametes versicolor. Versicolor means ‘of several colors’. Turkey Tail fungus isn’t just orange and gold. It can be other colors, but it always shows several colors. Your plain gold fungus is something else, and I have to admit, I only know they most common fungus so it’s a mystery to me.
And it’s a mystery to me why I hadn’t picked up that fungus tidbit and Hickory had. But I know it now!