One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Our strange mystery today is an egg case. A praying mantis egg case, and specifically a Carolina Mantis egg case.

The scientific name for it is an ootheca, and this particular one is oblong and larger than a ping pong ball, so that means it was laid by the Carolina Mantis. Remember the mantis we showed a week or so ago? That’s the one.

We admit, we had help figuring out which of the two praying mantis had laid it. Appalachian Feet posted a great description that will help you with future identifications.

Advertisements

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s a beautiful blue berry–

–but what is it?

Leave me a guess in the comments and I’ll check back later with your answer!

~~~

We’ve posted this plant before, but not shown its fall berry. Here’s a photo clue with the leaves.

Mile-a-Minute Weed, Persicaria perfoliata, is an invasive plant that grows like the name suggests–very quickly. It also is sometimes called tearthumb or Asiatic Tearthumb, which is a good name with those little thorns.  A post we made a year ago in the summer contains links to learn more, but you should be wary if you see this pretty berry and its triangular leaf. And you should pull it before it looks like this:

Or this, covering your native plants like it has on our nearby golf course.

It’s sad, because under that mess were some nice blackberry bushes.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Something edible–for wildlife only!–is ripening now.

If you have a guess of what it is, please post in the comments. I’ll check back later!

~~~

Maybe another hint?

The fruits of the Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida, are ripening now and their flesh being picked at by the birds: Cardinals, titmice, bluebirds, and the juncos–when they arrive.

They won’t last long, even if they aren’t very tasty! We squirrels find that birds are’t that picky.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s not only acorns that are falling, the leaves are following…

or more specifically, this leaf has fallen. If you know what kind it is, or just have a guess and want to play, give me an answer in the comments!

~~~

We squirrels don’t see this too often–a doubly compound leaf. The smaller leaflets are actually leaflets of the larger leaf. In fact, Miz Flora tells us that this small tree can even have triply compound leaves!

It’s a Devil’s Walkingstick or Hercules Club, Aralia spinosa, which if you try to climb the trunk, your paws will tell you exactly correct. Usually growing at the sunny edges of woods, this native tree can grow to 20 feet tall where they lean their huge flower heads out, letting bees and butterflies find them.

Now, in the fall, each of the tiny flowers has become a berry.

We squirrels don’t eat them–can’t get to them!–but they seem to disappear. It’s the birds, of course, thrushes, sparrows and pigeons, but Miz Flora says she’s seen fox and skunk eating them. And chipmunks–they must be waiting for them to fall! That’s the only way to get them that Nutmeg and I can figure out.

 

Even if it’s not something we eat, this is a pretty cool tree that seems almost hidden from humans.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

We squirrels have had a bit of an off week, but I’ve decided to jump back in with a Sunday mystery.

Recognize this guy? If so, drop me–Hickory squirrel–a guess in the comments. I’ll check back for your answers!

~~~

We had a correct answer! The Green Heron is a frequent visitor in our woodsy streams, seeking out fish, frogs, crayfish…anything he might grab to make a meal. And this young, or immature fellow, needs them as he’s still growing and getting his adult plumage, soon to look like…

this! Pretty colors, huh? Makes him great at staying hidden among the shrubs along the water.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Recognize this late nester?

I’ll check back later!

~~~

We admit this is a tough one–only a dark-feathered back and a broad yellow beak. And maybe you can see a hint of her nest, made of twigs.

This little lady is a common songbird in our part of northern Virginia–an American Robin.

See the similarities?

Fun facts: robin nests are constructed of approximately 350 twigs and pieces of grass, each about 6 inches long. The robin uses mud, collected one beak at a time, to ‘cement’ the nest together, then lines the inside with more grasses.

Want more information? This American Robin page on Learner.org helped us with its good facts.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Any idea what kind of butterfly this is? And…notice anything unusual about it?

Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be back later to check your guesses!

~~~

Well, we have shy readers today, or…? No responses and we thought this was one of our easier mysteries. But hey, we’re all busy in real life today!

This Monarch butterfly has positioned it abdomen to…

lay an egg!

The plant is Common Milkweed, a favorite food of the Monarch caterpillar. Butterflies always lay eggs on the particular plant that its caterpillar eats, so if you really wish to attract butterflies to your yard, you need to have both the nectar flowers they like and the preferred caterpillar foods.

So, we had good question come into the blog today that relates to butterflies. However, it was posted as a comment on an unrelated post from a few years ago–we assume the human reader was going back through our archives and reading more about nature–yay! This question was a bit embarrassing for Nutmeg, but she answered it honestly and we decided the fate of it being posted today meant that we should share it with all our readers, rather than let it get buried in the archives.

Mike asked:

Do squirrels search out and eat butterfly chrysilis’?
I could have sworn one of my bandits went into my pondside blackeyed susan yesterday and emerged with a bright green chrysilis he then proceeded to chow down on!
I am willing to share my tomatoes but NOT my butterflies!

And Nutmeg answered:

Em, yes we–er, they do. We are quite opportunistic in our food choices and insects are a favorite. Especially the juicy ones. Thanks for writing in with your observation, Mike, despite how much it embarrasses us.
Nutmeg

Seeing as we are squirrels and have done our best to promote humans helping wildlife, this was hard to admit. But who better to ask about squirrel habits than a group of squirrels?!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

We haven’t had a flower for a mystery lately, so here’s one!
Give your guesses in the comments and I’ll check back later with your answer!

~~~

Yay, we had a correct guess today–even though I didn’t show the flower from its most telling side. Look here:

It’s Trumpet Creeper Vine. As our faithful reader said, hummingbirds love gathering nectar from this deep tube–and we squirrels are thinking it’s likely they have little competition.

That said, Miz Flora stands firm that this is a plant you should plant on a trellis and keep contained! Remember, it’s a vine. It will travel everywhere, and those large compound do tend to cover other plants.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

We have a tiny mystery for you this week!

 

Yes, these are on a window screen. Sorry the resolution isn’t better!

Any guesses what it is? Put ’em in the comments and I’ll check in with you later!

~~~

We had several correct guesses best guesses of insect eggs!

Our best guess after comparing images is these are likely stink bug eggs. There are many types of stink bugs; this is one species.

See the little round mark at the ends of the eggs? Please let us know if any of you have any further ideas, and we will try to catch the bugs hatching–versus a bird!