Solitary bees out and about

This Yellow Bumble Bee looks very pleased some flowers are still holding on!


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.

Leaf hider

While Hickory and I were looking at the Devil’s Walkingstick last week, we found this fellow hanging out on a nearby sumac.

We were so surprised we circled around the tree. The praying mantis followed us, waving its spiky arms!

Even going under the leaf to get a better view of us with its pin-point little eyes.

“We aren’t prey!” Hickory chittered.

Uh, for a praying mantis at least.

And it’s…gone.

Our readers might have heard us squirrels mention how good those Monarch chrysalises are. But I swear, those of us here on The Squirrel Nutwork have sworn off them to help butterflies! Well, Hickory and I found a sad sight this week on our jaunt around the neighborhood.

A chrysalis eaten!

As we circled and chittered and pondered who it might have been, the culprit returned.

Can you believe it?

We think it’s a paper wasp–but we didn’t want to get too close!


Competition for the flowers

Hickory and I were doing some butterfly watching on a lazy afternoon this week.

We noticed these insects take every opportunity they can to feed, and we assume this Pearl Crescent butterfly was happy to find one Butterfly Weed in bloom when the rest are just buds. But then we noticed another insect coming in on the left.

See him, the green fellow?

That’s a Cuckoo Wasp–a wasp for the love of acorns! We backed away. But did the Pearl Crescent leave?


Hickory flicked his tail from a safe distance. “Guess that milkweed nectar is better than most.”

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.

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?!

Dead Dragonfly

It’s funny what you’ll find leaping your way along human roads. Hickory and I were bought up short by a sparkle of gold.

One sniff said it wasn’t moving again.

“Too bad. The best part, eaten by a bird.” Hickory flicked his tail.

“Is that all you think about? Stuff as food?” I asked.

“Well, yeah. But if you want to look, don’t do it here or you’ll become crow food.” He gave the dragonfly a whack and sent it onto the grass.

I followed, because, yeah, I did want a closer look. “Dragonflies never sit still long enough to get a good look,” I grumbled over my shoulder.

The green eyes reminded me of the goggles humans wear at the pool, and below, his jaw was angled in the oddest way.

“Doesn’t look like he was too happy to be eaten,” Hickory quipped over my shoulder.

No, he didn’t.