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!
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!
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.