Tag Archives: animals

Weekly Puzzler #151: Really looooonngg “Tail”

Hello and happy weekend!

So yes, we’ve been talking a bit about insects. Let’s do another. I found this one the other day when I was in South Carolina at a lovely park called Jones Gap. Someone looking at this insect might ask about its very looooooonnnnnng tail? Stinger?

What IS that long thing at the end of this insect’s body? Is it a tail? And for that matter, what is this insect? Have you ever seen one?

tm2-

If you know the answer, or just want to throw out a guess, use the comment box below. We have just a few more puzzlers to go before the next drawing–June 21, for a photo prize. All correct answers will be entered in the drawing.

Enjoy your weekend and I will see you again soon.

Posted in Animals, Insects, Spiders and other Invertebrates, Weekly Puzzler | Also tagged , , 6 Comments

Weekly Puzzler Answer #150

Did you recognize the odd-looking creature in last week’s puzzler? It is a Cicada exuvia or shed skin. Some insects, like cicadas, go through incomplete or gradual metamorphosis. This means that they have 3 stages–egg, larva or nymph and then winged adult. Their transformation from larva to adult is extraordinary!

c-3586If you live in western NC and have been through Arden or Skyland in recent days, you’ve probably heard the deafening drone of cicadas in the treetops. And these are not your regular, ordinary dog-day cicadas, these are the amazingly long-lived 17-year cicadas or periodical cicadas.

Here is what they sound like.

Can you imagine living underground in the soil for 17 years? During this time you never see the light of day. You spend your time sucking sap from the roots of a tree, growing and sleeping. Sound fun? Imagine the changes the world can produce in 17 years! When I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail I came upon an emergence of the 17 year cicada. It was one of the most incredible natural moments I have witnessed. You can read more about it here. 

I used to think cicadas were had the longest lifecycle of any insect, but I have since discovered that is not true. They ARE the longest lived insect in North America, but not the world. Long-horned beetle larva, which live in dead wood, can remain there for 35-50 years before emerging as an adult. But they are not the longest lived either, amazingly! That award goes to the African queen termite who can live for more than 50 years, though some scientists suspect they live closer to 100 years. Imagine!! Such a tiny creature living so long.

Amazingly, scientists actually know where and when our periodical cicadas are going to emerge and have the broods named. If you live in the eastern US and want to know when a 17-year emergence will occur, you can put in your zip code on this site and see a map giving the locations.

There are also what people refer to as dog-day cicadas that live in these same places and have shorter life cycles. They are most likely the ones you hear towards the end of the summer. Their time underground in only 2-5 years, not 17! And they sound and look a bit different too. Some years ago I did a puzzler featuring dog-day cicadas, and then another featuring 10 things you may not know about cicadas.

That’s it for me for now. Have a good weekend. See you again soon!

Posted in Animal Sounds, Animals, Insects, Spiders and other Invertebrates, Weekly Puzzler | Also tagged , , , , , , 2 Comments

How Wolves Change Rivers

I have talked before about having a “Bucket List.” In recent years I have been fortunate enough to check many things off of my bucket list. Do you have a Bucket List? What are some things at the top of your Bucket List?

One thing on my list is to travel to Yellowstone to see wolves. I want to see them in action, raising pups, howling together, hunting, traveling through the magnificent landscape of Yellowstone. I have learned recently that there are some people who have been watching the wolves in Yellowstone daily since they were reintroduced in the 90’s. The things these people have seen! I want to sit with them and look though their scopes and learn about these amazing animals.

Ever wonder what happened after biologists reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone after they’d been absent for 70 years? Here’s your chance to see some of the changes they have made…

What do you think? Do you live somewhere that wolves live? Have you ever seen one?

 

Posted in Animals, Did you know..., It's a Wonderful World!, Mammals | Also tagged , , , , 10 Comments

Weekly Puzzler #148: A Bird That Uses a Lure

So last week’s puzzler was a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron–a bird commonly found at the edge of ponds, lakes, marshes, swamps, streamsides and other bodies of water, where it hunts fish, crayfish, frogs and other aquatic animals. I thought I would feature another bird commonly found in the same habitats as the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. Chances are if you knew the last one, you will know this one too.

This handsome, yellow-eyed bird has the unusual habit of standing on a branch or in grass hanging out over water and dropping sticks and other objects into the water with the intent of luring fish, which it then snatches from the water with its dagger-like bill. This is amazing to watch! Who said animals don’t use tools?

Here are two photos:

?-9181

Do you know the identity of this bird? Have you seen it in a body of water near you? If so, use the comment box below to offer your guess. All correct responses will be entered in a drawing to win a photo prize.

?-1184

Have a wonderful weekend and see you again soon! (I will show you a video of this bird using a lure next weekend–it is an amazing display!)

Posted in Animals, Birds, Weekly Puzzler | Also tagged , , , , 6 Comments

What Ants and Farmers Have in Common

If you’re like most people, you probably only think about ants when they get into your house or find your sweet crumbs during your picnic in the woods. Ants are truly amazing creatures… for instance, did you know the average ant can carry 10-50 times its own body weight? Consider this for a moment–that’s like a 200 pound man carrying two large cars or 10,000 pounds! And they are fast too, able to run 300 meters per hour. Another amazing fact about ants is their relationship with aphids and mealy bugs. Did you know some ants keep livestock just like farmers?

Here’s a video you have to see to believe–ants tend their flocks, move them and even protect them from the rain. Imagine!

Posted in Animals, Did you know..., Insects, Spiders and other Invertebrates, It's a Wonderful World! | Also tagged , , , , , Leave a comment

Weekly Puzzler #147: Handsome Red-eyed Bird

Since we’ve been featuring birds for our puzzlers, let’s roll with this theme and do another. This next bird is a favorite of mine, found in wet woods and swamps throughout the southeastern United States.

Check it out:

cbird-3125Do you recognize it? If so, or if you want to guess, give it a try. All correct guesses will be entered in the next drawing for a photo prize–on the first day of summer. The more times your name is entered the better chance you have to win. Good luck!

cbird-3122

And see you again soon!

Posted in Animals, Birds, Weekly Puzzler | Also tagged , , , 4 Comments

Check Out These Nesting Birds. Live!

Have you ever watched live streaming of a bird on its nest? Don’t you think it would be interesting to watch a Barred Owl, or a Peregrine Falcon or an Osprey bringing food back to its chicks? You can learn so much from this!

A pair of barred owls in Florida

A pair of barred owls in Florida

I was recently talking to my friend Lisa who lives in Rhode Island and works for the National Audubon Society. She was telling me about the pair of Peregrine falcons nesting on one of the skyscrapers there in Providence. During the past few rainy days, the birds ignored the rain, sitting diligently on the 5 eggs, keeping them warm. She said they should be hatching this week. You can see this here!

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology also has some live bird cams. These are amazing! And they have so many different birds that you can watch. Check out a few of them here: (WARNING: watching these can be totally addictive and you might never get anything else done!)

Barred Owls:

Ospreys: (This one is super cool because you can see the traffic going by as the osprey sits on the nest. It is a great angle!)

and my favorite, because it shows two different angles, Red-tailed hawks in Itaca NY:

Do you want to set up a camera on your property? It’s possible!

My husband and I have two cameras set up in nesting boxes on our property. One is in a blue bird box and the other, in a screech owl box. We can turn on the TV and watch “the bluebird channel,” or the “owl channel.” You can do this too! All you need is a tiny camera that you can mount inside of a nesting box for whatever bird you want. Here is a link for the camera (marked down from $160 to $89) we have and also for a bluebird box, ( I love this one because it is made by Audubon, is easy to clean, has a built in predator guard, has the specific opening for a bluebird and is well-constructed for long last use.) Here are two posts I wrote about this some time ago: Spy cam shows all and spy cam captures hatching eggs.

Happy bird watching! Let me know what you think… and if YOU too got addicted to this amazing  educational opportunity!

See you again soon.

Posted in Animals, Birds | Also tagged , , , , , Leave a comment