Thirsty Thursday

Folks,

You don’t have to go to the shore to see giant wading birds. We have them right here in our woods!

The Great Blue Heron seems to be at home in even the smallest pond damned along the streams, as long as he can find fish. Or frogs, snakes crayfish and…yes, sadly enough, rodents.

Luckily this old squirrel is a bit well-padded, I don’t think I’d fit down his gullet too well.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Any idea why this looks like a centipede fossil in this piece of not-fossilized wood?

I’ll be back later to check your guesses!

~~~

The simple answer is bugs.

The long answer is that the long bumpy center–or body of the centipede–is where a beetle laid eggs back when this branch was alive and had bark. Each of the eggs hatched into a larvae, and each little bug began chewing its way into the softer cambium layer under the wood, and we suppose a little into the wood, making the ‘legs’ of the centipede.

Did you notice that those legs grow larger as the bug chewed along? It was growing bigger! Eventually they matured enough that the larvae chewed a hole to the outside of the bark, metamorphosed into a beetle and left!

So this is like a natural apartment house!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

If you have a weak stomach, don’t look… because today’s mystery is scat. In other words, poop. (Nutmeg is making me post this warning!)

So you humans may not think that makes it much of a mystery, but it is! Two mystery questions, in fact:

Can you guess what animal left this in our neighborhood parking lot?

And what did he eat? (Hint: It’s out now!)

I’ll check back with you later!

~~~

We believe a fox left this little deposit, and from the looks of it, he ate fruit. What’s ripe now?

Mulberries!

They are ripening and dropping less that fifty feet from where the very full fox left his mark!

 

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Any idea what these things on the leaves are?

Check back with you later!

~~~

Guess we should have clarified that these things are not ‘on’ the leaves but are growing out of them. That’s what happens when something gets into the leaf tissue and the leaf doesn’t like it. This might be an insect laying an egg or a fungus spore getting into a wound. The tree cells rally and create a ‘gall’ around the invader. Different plants create different galls, the most famous and noticeable being the Oak Apple Gall. (Squirrel kits have to learn that those are not  food, since they grow where we expect acorns!)

We had to write back to our reader to learn what kind of a tree this was…by the way, thank you to Jeanine for allowing us to use her photos for today’s mystery!

The tree looks like a type of wild cherry, but we’re not sure which.

So with that information, we were able to narrow our search and came up with spindle galls. Viette’s Views gardening blog has an excellent photo essay on galls which includes notes on spindle galls, caused by microscopic mites called eriophyid mites.

Ok, that sound like a bug you can’t stop, and the tree is dealing with it the best it can!