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.

L is for Lenten Rose

No, it’s not a native, but Lenten Rose does grow nicely with a naturalized look. Even better it adds a very early, long-bloomer to your garden that will help bees and other insects when little else is blooming. And Miz Flora says here’s a tip you human gardeners will like: Deer and rabbits don’t like to eat Hellebores. Their leaves produce a poisonous alkaloid that tastes bad–but note this might bother humans with sensitive skin.

K is for Katydid

It’s an itty bitty katydid, an early ‘instar’ which means it recently hatched from its egg and is going through its growth by eating and shedding exoskeletons. It’s on a magnolia petal, for size estimations.

We squirrels want to share that K is a hard letter in nature. Local nature, at least. And now that we posted that, please feel free to write us with your suggestions! Miz Flora looked up wildflowers and of the few, none worked…meaning we had no photos of them. Trees, there is one, which doesn’t live around here and one shrub that we used last year. Birds…like Killdeer, again, no photos. Sigh.

I is for Poison Ivy

We are repeating a favored perennial for ‘I” on the Blogging From A to Z Challenge: Ivy, of the poisonous kind!

Please consider this a nature service announcement! This native vine can be one of the nastiest you encounter in our woods, fields, and even your lovely foundation plantings. Notice we said ‘can be’. Some people do not react to this plant’s oils that cause itching. But with exposure, their tolerance can decrease, so it pays not to expose yourself unnecessarily.

In the spring, it looks like this:

In the fall it looks like this:

In the winter it looks like this:

Don’t get poison ivy this year. Know what it looks like so you can avoid it.

H is for Hawk

Traditionally, Monday on The Squirrel Nutwork is reserved for a column called Motionless Monday featuring wildlife statues. Hickory Squirrel hosts it. So normally, we would show a hawk like this:

Fun, huh?

That’s how we squirrels would rather see a hawk–motionless! But instead…

It’s no fun for us squirrels when the Cooper’s Hawks come visiting!

And lately…

A pair of Red-shouldered hawks are courting in our neighborhood, so we have to watch our over our shoulders all the time.