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

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Thursday, July 31, 2014


The clustered namesake flowers of White Turtlehead are open. Turtleheads like wet places.
The four-part flowers of Virgin's Bower are frosting roadside thickets. This plant climbs by twisting its leaf stalks around any other plant that it comes into contact with.
Long, curled blue stamens give Blue Curls their name. A plant of dry roadsides and railroad tracks, Blue Curls look too delicate for their chosen habitat.
And Button Bush's round heads consisting of many white tubular flowers are at their peak. Button bush will usually be found with its feet in water. Its flowers attract a huge array of pollinators.
White Turtlehead

Virgin's Bower

Blue Curl

Button Bush

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Rough Cinquefoil is turning its bright yellow face to the day. Contrary to its name this species has just 3 leaves.
One-sided racemes of paired flowers originating in the leaf axils are all that is needed to identify Mad-dog Skullcap. It's square stem marks it as a member of the mint family.
And what had seemed a Monarch-less summer thus far has apparently had at least one pair of those well-loved migratory butterflies return to this latitude … as proven by the caterpillar on this milkweed!!!
Rough Cinquefoil

Rough Cinquefoil leaves

Mad-dog Skullcap

Monarch butterfly caterpillar

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Not long after sun up a Gray Fox avoids the very tall, very wet grass by using my foot path.
Vase shaped mushrooms are having their day. One I tentatively identified as a Black Trumpet (Craterellus fallux). The other possibly Shaggy or Scaly Vase Chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus).
And Three-bird Orchids (Triphora trianthaphora) are opening few flowers. Three-birds is a state listed Threatened or endangered species. They're found in only a handful of places in Vermont, all of them in or near Dummerston.
Gray Fox

Black Trumpet

Shaggy or Scaly Chanterelle

Three-bird Orchid

Monday, July 28, 2014


The tiny white flowers of Milk Purslane, a common denizen of gardens, waste places and even cracks in concrete, are open.
Purple-headed Sneezeweed's 3-lobed yellow rays announce its presence in dry fields and ditches.
And a somewhat bedraggled Common Sulphur butterfly posed for pictures … including a close-up which reveals details not usually seen.
Milk Purslane

Purple-headed Sneezeweed

Common Sulphur butterfly

Close-up of Sulphur butterfly

Sunday, July 27, 2014


The bright yellow flowers and heart shaped three part leaves of Oxalis species make it easy to identify … however … I routinely find white specimens. This one was beside Quarry Road. I've seen others along Route 30.
And Viceroys are flying. Viceroys get protection from predators by resembling the distasteful - but now rather rare - Monarch butterflies.


Saturday, July 26, 2014


Joe Pye Weed is coloring swamps and wet meadows. There are three Joe Pye Weeds common to this area.
Ditch Stonecrop - a member of the Saxifrage family - lifts small yellow-green flowers over ditches and swamps. It likes wet feet.
A rather robust beetle, one of the fruit and flower chafers known only by its scientific name, Osmoderma scabra, is on the wing. Over an inch long and with uniquely wrinkled, prunish wing covers, the beetle almost begs to be noticed.
And, in a sandy, sun-baked waste space, Thread-leaved Tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata) is in flower. The northern extreme of this species range is Maryland and Washington, DC, but its big long lasting flowers have long made cultivars a favorite with gardeners and, obviously, not all stayed where these were planted although these were the first I've found growing wild.
Joe Pye Weed

Ditch Stonecrop

Thread-leaved Tickseed

Friday, July 25, 2014


Common Burdock, bane of all long haired dogs, puts its best face forward.
A group of brightly colored Net-winged Beetles (possibly Calopteron discrepens) cluster on a leaf. Often seen foraging on flowers, these beetles also feed on aphid 'honeydew'.
A male Northern Walkingstick clings to Ground Ivy which in turn clings to a Black Locust. Walkingsticks are foliage feeders. We see them only every other year.
And a swarm of Carrion Beetles (Oiceoptoma noveboracense) devour a Stinkhorn fungus. The fungus which smells like carrion attracts the beetles that devour it. In return the beetles disperse fungal spores, ensuring a future generation of Stinkhorns.
Common Burdock

Net-wing Beetles

Northern Walkingstick

Carrion Beetles eating a Stinkhorn

Thursday, July 24, 2014


On Black-eyed Susans - and other flowers - caterpillars known as Camouflaged Loopers (Synchlore aerata) present bizarre and colorful profiles to foil a world of hungry predators. Each caterpillar cuts segments of whatever flower it's on and attaches them with silk to spines on its back. The color appropriate camouflage is replaced if it starts to wilt or fade. The caterpillar is only without camouflage immediately after moulting its skin, a process necessary from time to time as it grows.
Synchlora aerata is the larva of a green moth formerly known as the Wavy-lined Emerald. The moth is pretty, but I think the larva is the far more fascinating life phase of this insect and I was thrilled to find them this morning.
Camoflaged Looper caterpillar

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


The range of the aptly named Thin-winged Owlet moth is said by the field guides to be Ontario to Southern Connecticut and points south. I guess this one isn't much of a reader.
The diminutive Gentian relative called Centaury lifted its yellow centered pink flowers above dry roadsides.
Pale Touch-me-not opened a few pale yellow, short spurred flowers in rich moist woods.
And Spikenard, a Ginseng relative, opened a few tiny flowers on round umbels. The dark angular stems of Spikenard give it a shrubby look. And it can reach five feet tall.
Thin-winged Owlet



Pale Touch-me-not

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


The spikelike racemes of dull white fuzzy flowers and net patterned leaves of Checkered Rattlesnake Plantain can be found in dry woodlots today.
On nearby ponds Little Floating Hearts were living up to their names.
And along the roadsides Hoary Allysum's downy stems and 5 deeply cleft white petals made it easy to identify.
Checkered Rattlesnake Plantain leaf

Checkered Rattlesnake Plantain flowers

Little Floating Hearts

Hoary Allysum

Monday, July 21, 2014


The tiny yellow flowers of Wild Sensitive Plant are opening. The leaflets of this species are somewhat sensitive to touch.
And one of the Sunflowers is lifting its yellow rays above weed patches and thickets. My field guide lists nine sunflower species … and says that a dozen others are common in our area.
Wild Sensitive Plant

Sunflower - one of 

Sunday, July 20, 2014


The bright white fuzzy flowers of White Snakeroot will soon frost the roadsides. A few are open now.
Bull Thistle provides densely packed florets, easy foraging for a bumblebee.
Black Medic, a Yellow Clover look-alike, has formed the black twisted seed clusters that are its namesake.
And American Yew AKA Ground Hemlock dangles scarlet berries in damp shaded understory thickets.
White Snakeroot

Bull Thistle

Black Medick

Black Medick seed clusters

American Yew AKA Ground Hemlock

Saturday, July 19, 2014


The obscure little St. John's Wort called Orange Grass is starting to flower. Orange Grass is listed S-2 (imperiled) on the list of Rare and Uncommon Vascular Plants of Vermont. Also in flower is Great St. John's Wort listed S-2 by the state but also listed as threatened on the more restricted list of Threatened and Endangered Plants of Vermont; plants that get some small degree of statutory protection.
Orange Grass grows in only a few spots in Dummerston under very specific conditions. The Great St. John's Wort pictured is the only specimen I have ever located.
Note: Some field guides hyphenate St. John's-wort, some make it one word - St. Johnswort - and some spell it as I chose to. A wort is simply a plant and I would not make one word of St. John's plant. Would I?
Orange Grass

Great St. John's Wort

Friday, July 18, 2014


The tiny pink flowers of Lady's Thumb are opening. Lady's Thumb is one of four smartweed varieties found in this area.
For reasons I can't explain, Box Elder Bugs of several different nymphal stages clustered in the leaf axils of a roadside weed. A few adult Box Elder bugs were also present.
Higher up on the plant several of the strange spiny nymphs of Helmeted Squash Bugs could also be found. None of the bugs appeared to be feeding and as most were sub-adults they would not be mating.
As I said, I have no explanation …
Lady's Thumb

Box Elder bug

Box Elder nymphs

Box Elder bug nymphs

Helmeted Squash bug nymph