To all those interested in the natural world. Please add your sightings.

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Monday, June 30, 2014


Today Pokeweed is in flower. Moth Mullein is also having its day; Flowers of this species can be either yellow or white.
Butter-and-Eggs, a close relative of Blue Toadflax, brightens roadsides and waste places.
And Scarlet Pimpernel - a species new to me - dots the roadside … just over the town line in Brattleboro.
And, finally, along the West River, a Damselfly called the Blue-fronted Dancer added its bit of color to the day!
Blue-fronted Dancer


Yellow Mullein



Sunday, June 29, 2014


Today in thickets along the West River, Meadowsweet is in flower.
The tiny yellow-lipped flowers of Wide-leaved Ladies' Tresses punctuate grassy river banks. Ladies' Tresses are in the Orchid family as are the Tubercled Orchids that lurk deep in the riverside grasses. Tubercled Orchids are State listed as "Threatened" and are protected by statute. The banks of the West River provided rare pockets of suitable habitat for this little yellow-green oddity.
And I'll end with an enigma. An odd little fingernail-sized moth that I tentatively identified as Elophila gyralis was attracted to my lights. The problem? This host-specific moth is commonly known as The Lily Pad Borer, and my residence is a long, long way from any lily pads!! So far in fact that it makes me question that identification!?!
The world out there is never simple.
Tubercled Orchid

Lily Pad Borer

Ladies' Tresses


Saturday, June 28, 2014


Today Canada Lily is in flower. Canada Lily is also known as Wild Yellow Lily although its flowers range from yellow to brick red.
Last night a Polyphemus Moth was on the wing. Polyphemus larvae are generalists, feeding on many trees and shrubs.
Rosy Maple moths were also active. Larval foods for this species are maples and oaks.
And, finally, an aptly named Figure-seven moth was flying. This moth is active both day and night. Its larval food is Witch Hazel.
Rosy Maple moth

Figure-seven moth

Canada Lily

Polyphemus moth

Friday, June 27, 2014


Out in the great green world today, a Colorado Potato Beetle laid eggs on the underside of a Horse Nettle leaf. Horse Nettle is a close relative of potatoes and tomatoes (Solanaceae).
In wet meadows dozens of Pickerel frogs pulsed through the grasses.
And in a roadside grass clump a spider - either an Elongated Orb Weaver or an Elongated Long-jawed Orb Weaver - tried its best to look like a blade of grass.
Pickerel frog

Orb Spider

Colorado Potato Beetle


Today Rabbit's-foot Clover added its soft fuzzy pink to the roadside show.
Canada Thistle (which is actually from Europe) held its fragrant pink clusters above weed patches and thickets. Although rarer, there is also white Canada Thistles.
Shinleaf opened a few flowers. Shinleaf is one of a half-a-dozen Pyrolas found in this area.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers fed fledglings … but didn't pose for pictures.
And, finally, an American Idea moth was flying last night. The larval food for this little species is lichens.
Rabbit's-foot Clover

Canada Thistle

American Idea moth

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Today Blue False Indigo tints riverbanks and gravel bars along the West River.
Black-eyed Susans are starting to open in dry fields and along roadsides.
Common Milkweed lifts its often overlooked and underappreciated flower clusters over wet areas.
And, finally, last night a Large Yellow Underwing moth was flying. The larvae of this species are winter cutworms. I find them in midwinter (and alive) atop the snow. This moth was accidentally introduced in 1979 into Maritime Canada and has spread at least as far south as Texas.
Large Yellow Underwing

Blue False Indigo

Black-eyed Susan

Common Milkweed

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Today Pale Corydalis is in flower. I often find it in disturbed areas under power lines.
Common St. John's-Wort is beginning to brighten fields and roadsides. My field guide lists a dozen St. John's-Wort species, most of which can be found locally.
The much maligned invasive, Purple Loosestrife, is also having its season. To quote the field guide, "…often growing in large colonies to the exclusion of our native wild flowers."
And, finally, Bristly Sarsaparilla, a Ginseng relative, is lifting its branching, clustered umbels of greenish-white flowers in open woods and clearings, and, might I add, along roadsides!
Bristly Sarsaparilla

Purple Loosestrife

Common St. John's-Wort

Pale Corydalis

Monday, June 23, 2014


Last night a Locust Underwing moth was flying. This one reluctantly flashed just a hint of its orange-and-black-banded hindwings. The larval food plant for this species is - as you might have guessed - locusts.
Today along a power line right-of-way Yellow Rattle's odd yellow flowers and inflated calyx sacs form sunny one-sided spikes.
In damp well shaded woods Greenish-flowered Pyrola is in flower; one of six Pyrolas that can be found in this area.
And, mixed in among tufts of sphagnum moss, Partridgesberries' flowers are open. The paired flowers of this species are joined at the base.

Yellow Rattle

Locust Underwing

Greenish-flowered Pyrola

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Today Moneywort is in flower. Moneywort is a Loosestrife (Lysimachia) that trails on the ground in damp locations.
White Avens dots the roadsides.
And Tall Meadow-rue towers over weed patches and thickets. Tall Meadow-rue is in the Buttercup family, and, like Moneywort, likes wet places.

White Avens

Tall Meadow-rue

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Today the rather indelicately named parasite, Squawroot, was in flower. A true parasite this plant favors Oak roots to feed on.
Motherwort's pink, furry tipped flowers were also open. Motherwort is a close relative of the mints.
The square-tipped, fringed petals of Chicory's clear blue flowers made it easy to identify. Chicory is an alien - but well-loved species, common along roadsides.
And, Spotted Lady Beetles did their best to produce more Spotted Lady Beetles …  although … I would guess that despite the name one of this pair was no lady. These beetles eat both pollen and aphids in equal parts. This pair was on a milkweed leaf.



Spotted Lady Beetles

Friday, June 20, 2014


Last night a Luna Moth was flying, the first I've seen in two years. To quote my field guide "One of the most spectacular moths … common throughout our area." Lunas are still spectacular, but no longer common. I was glad to see one.
Today, Wild Radishes brown veined, pale yellow flowers dotted disturbed areas.
The tips of Sweet Fern branches were covered with burr-like fruit. Each burr contains one small shiny nutlet.
And a Fritillary posed nicely for the camera. Unfortunately the best identifying marks for these big showy butterflies are on the underside of their wings. If forced to guess, I would say that this was the one quite charmingly named Aphrodite … but … there are several other equally strong contenders.
And finally, a few close ups of the Luna Moth's wing spots - two of which aren't visible when the moth is at rest.
Luna Moth

Wild Radish

Sweet Fern tips

Fritillary butterfly

Luna Moth eyespot close up (underwing)

Luna moth eyespot close up (upper wing)

Thursday, June 19, 2014


A rather handsome moth called The Black-letter Dart was flying last night. The larva of this species, the Spotted Cutworm is a serious crop pest.
A Rhinoceros Beetle - normally a forest species - clung on a grass stalk in my field this morning.
And Blue Toadflax, a plant of dry acidic habitats, started to flower on road shoulders and in gravel parking lots.
The Black-letter DArt

Rhinoceros Beetle


Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Today the pink veined petals of Common Wood-sorrel graced the woods.
Yellow Avens lifted its face above thickets and ditches.
And Hedge Bindweed draped its trumpet flowers over weeds and grasses. Hedge bindweed flowers can be either pink or white.
Common Wood-sorrel

Yellow Avens

Hedge Bindweed
Hedge Bindweed