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

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Sunday, July 31, 2016


Pinesaps, AKA False Beechdrops, are pushing up their tannish-yellow saprophytic flower clusters. Each cluster has from 3 - 10 flowers. Despite being sometimes referred to as False Beechdrops they are found under Pines and Oaks.
And a female Gypsy Moth glued her egg mass to the side of my house. Her usual choice would be a tree trunk. Female Gypsy moths are nearly flightless. The smaller brown males do all the visiting. This species was introduced from Europe in the late 1860's and have become widespread.

Gypsy moth and egg mass

Saturday, July 30, 2016


A diurnal Snowberry Clearwing - often referred to as a hummingbird moth - nectared at Phlox in my garden.
Velvetleaf added a bit of color to the perimeter of cornfields.
And the aptly named Doll'sEyes, the fruits of White Baneberry, gazed out from the thickets and weed patches.
Snowberry Clearwing


Doll's Eyes

Friday, July 29, 2016


Wild Cucumber is draping roadside weed patches and thickets. The closely related Bur Cucumber is also in flower.
Common Tansy, a garden escape, can also be seen in weedy fields and roadside ditches.
And a male Polyphemus moth chose a roadside goldenrod as its daytime perch. Males have feathery bipectinate antennae with which they sense female pheromones.
Wild Cucumber

Common Tansy

male Polyphemus moth

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Partridge Pea is in flower. flowers of this species have 4 stamens with yellow anthers and 6 with purple. Its range is said to be Mass and points south.
ANd the Green Woodland Orchid is also in flower.l Short, broad spikes of greenish-white flowers which are all tipped slightly from horizontal make this an easy orchid to identify.
Partridge Pea

Partridge Pea flower

Green Woodland Orchid

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


WAter Lobelia, a plant of shallow muddy ponds, is in flower, as are 2 bladderworts: Horned Bladderwort and Floating Bladderwort. Horned Bladderwort grows in water saturated mud. Floating Bladderwort free floats, it is not rooted. Bladderworts are carnivorous, trapping and consuming microscopic prey.

Water Lobelia 

Horned Bladderowrt

Floating Bladderwort

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


A molted primary feather - probably that of a Broadwinged Hawk - was on my lawn this morning. Molting old  feathers and growing new ones commonly occurs soon after young of the year achieve independence.
A Waved Sphinx moth came to my lights last night. Larval hosts for this species include Ash and Oak.
The bright white egg masses of Dobsonflies decorate a mid-stream boulder. Each egg mass consists of 1000 or more ggs therefore some 18,000 larval Dobsonflies , known as Hellgrammites, hatched off this one rock and began their aquatic life, preying on invertebrates, tadpoles and small fish. As adults, dobsonflies do not feed. Hellgrammites are preyed n by fish.
Broadwinged Hawk feather

Waved Sphinx moth

Dobsonfly Egg Cases

Monday, July 25, 2016


Bull Thistles are in flower.
A Hickory Tussock moth caterpillar posed for a picture. Hickory, Pecan and Walnut are favored food plants but American Hornbeam, Ash, Oak and Willow are also acceptable.
And Dog-day Harvest Flies (Cicadas) are emerging. This nymphal husk was hanging on a Black Locust tree, but nymphs usually feed on sap from the roots of evergreens.
Bull Thistle

Hickory Tussock moth

Dog-day Harvest Fly husk

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Blue Curls, a member of the mint family, favor dry sandy areas often roadsides that are scraped bare during maintenance. Long arching stamens and a spotted lower lip make this much branching little plant easy to identify.
Sneezewort is also in flower. This one probably a cultivar called "The Pearl."
And four Mergansers crowded a midstream rock in the West River this morning, seemingly unconcerned at my presence.
Blue Curl

Blue Curl stamens



Mergansers on the West River

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Groundnut, also known as Wild Bean, is in flower. Its hooded, maroon, extremely sweet smelling flowers drape and twine over and through moist thickets. Its bulbous root is edible. I find its odor overpowering.
The twining orange stems of parasitic Common dodder, AKA Love Vine, color weed patches and thickets. Dodder's tiny suckers absorb sap from their host plant or plants. There are 10 other species of Dodder according to Newcomb's Wildflower Guide.
And Joe Pye Weeds are in flower. Joe Pyes are flowers of moist places. There are at least 3 species in our area.


Dodder flowers

Joe Pye Weed

Friday, July 22, 2016


The garden escape Feverfew is in flower and has been for a while.
Flat-topped Asters are starting to open.
And a Luna Moth caterpillar, normally bright green, was crossing the West River Trail today. Experts say the odd color indicates that the caterpillar is ready to cocoon. The cocoon of this species is made of leaves loosely stitched together with silk.

Flat-topped Aster

Luna Moth caterpillar

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Everlasting Pea is in flower. These plants are wither garden escapes or, occasionally, they are planted as erosion control.
Ditch Stonecrop - a  less than showy species - is also flowering and as the name implies it favors wet ditches.
Everlasting Pea

Ditch Stonecrop

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Pale blue flowers and, eventually, inflated calyx's along with branching stems make Indian Tobacco easy to identify. Indian Tobacco is a member of the Lobelia family.
And a Lace bug - one of the 150 species in North America - posed nicely for a picture. These tiny little bugs feed on the underside of leaves which may cause white spots on the upper surface. Many Lace Bug species are host specific feeding on only one kind of plant.
Indian tobacco

close up of Indian Tobacco

Lace Bug magnified 10 X

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Virgin's Bower is in flower. The fruit of this vine is a tuft of feathery hairs called Old Man's Beard.
Common Burdock is also flowering. The bristly clinging burs of Burdock are familiar to most people.
Virgin's Bower

Common Burdock

Monday, July 18, 2016


Chicory and blue are nearly synonymous in my mind but chicory can also be white.
And the common and somewhat invasive Spotted Knapweed is colonizing road sides and waste places. These were growing happily in railroad ballast.
White Chicory

Spotted Knapweed

Sunday, July 17, 2016


A tiny - and obliging - butterfly, perhaps one of the 'Blues', posed nicely for a picture.
Common Plantain is in full unspectacular flower.
And Dwarf Sand Cherry is in fruit. This cherry grows happily on river cobble where little else can prosper. Its fruit is said to be edible but sour.
"Blue" butterfly

Common Plantain

close up of Plantain

Dwarf Sand Cherry

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Marsh Speedwell, a species that flowers in late summer, is now opening a few flowers.
Centaury, a tiny little member of the Gentian family, graces roadsides and dry fields.
And Ragged-fringed Orchids are opening their first rather distinctive greenish flowers. These are inhabitants of wet meadows and ditches which are abundant in wetter years and a bit hard to locate this year.
Marsh Speedwell


Ragged-fringe Orchid

Friday, July 15, 2016


Butterflies known as Large Wood Nymphs are flying. Larval foods for this species are grasses. Adults sip sap and visit rotting fruits.
The tiny white flower of Round-Leaved Sundews on coiled one-sided racemes stand above the plants sticky carnivorous leaves.
And the paired flowers of the colorfully named Mad-dog Skullcap are open. This is a plant of rich thickets, meadows and swampy woods.
Large Wood Nymph butterfly

Round-leaved Sundew flower

Round-leaved Sundew

Mad-dog Skullcap