X is for eXciting!

Yes, we’re poking at our letters today, but our little snake is an Xciting sight for some humans and is twisted into just the right shape!

For all the excitement a snake popping up in the garden causes, the ring-necked snake is one you can flick your tail at. It rarely gets over pencil-sized, and can easily be identified by the yellow to orange ring around the neck, or if you have scared it, the yellow-orange underbelly, as it tried to flash you nature’s warning color and chase you off.

And what do they eat, we would like you to ask? Slugs–every gardener’s bane–earthworms and salamanders.

U is for…Uh-oh!

Yes, we missed U day yesterday. We’ll chalk it up to three days of rain! No squirrel wants to be out in that! Not mentioning the procrastination that went on the day before because U is an exceptionally hard letter to find in nature.

So in the interest of saving time, we’ll repeat a past Blogging From A to Z Challenge post, one you humans might have missed in nature:

Underwing Moth!

This moth sits calmly on tree bark, blending in with its upper wings of gray–up until it feels threatened! Then it flashes those underwings of bright orange…enough to scare even the hardiest squirrel–*cough* Hickory *cough*–off a branch.

Go looking for them if you are bored!

R is for Raccoon

 

These burly fellows are very much a part of suburban life and we squirrels like to think they make us look good. Raccoons seem to get into more trouble than we do…or at least bigger trouble!

Come on, who else would get stuck on a fence!

Even if you don’t see raccoons, since they like to prowl around at night, you might see signs of them.

P is for Painted Lady

Specifically, the American Painted Lady butterfly!

You might see this beauty already. Painted Ladies migrate north in the spring from their wintering grounds in the Southwest. It’s one of the most widespread butterflies North America, so definitely look for Painted Ladies this summer. And you may need to look twice, because the underside of the wings is patterned differently from the topside.

Pretty cool, huh? Their populations vary from year to year, and scientists don’t know why. They do not migrate back in the fall, so die with the first frosts.

O is for Owl

The Barred Owl, who keeps watch in our neighborhood!

And maybe O is for Oops! Sorry we’re so late this morning, but now I bet you see why we weren’t too enthused about today’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge letter. We could only thing of something dangerous!

Yet as dangerous as owls are, they are endangered themselves. You humans don’t seem too keen on keeping dead trees around, and dead trees are where many owls nest. Have you considered putting up an owl box on your property? They can be purchased or made from plans…and it seems like most of the plans we are seeing in a online search are for barn owns, which need lots of open land.

In spite of our squirrel instincts to avoid owls, we’re going to hunt down some plan sources for your humans. In the meantime, here’s a good overview of why you should want owls in your life from Rodales Organic Life.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Here’s a good one for you–

What’s this mulch doing at the bottom of a tree in the woods?

I’ll check back in later!

~~~

Several of our readers guess correctly:

These chips fell from the tree as a Pileated Woodpecker chipped away at the tree. And how do we know it was a Pileated? Well, we saw him, but also the holes are squares, which is how a Pileated makes them.

This tree is skinny, so the woodpecker was after the wood-boring grubs in the tree, not trying to make a nesting cavity.

E is for Eastern Painted Turtle

The warm, sunny days of spring have brought up the Eastern Painted Turtles from their hibernation in the pond mud. Even if it cools down again–like it has here in Virginia–the turtles will be okay. They have a anti-freeze-like blood that sees them through these temperature changes.

What better ‘E’ wildlife to feature on our normal ‘water’ day, Thirsty Thursday!