Tag Archives: puzzler

Weekly Puzzler Answer #153

Greetings friends. Were you able to identify last week’s mystery plant? A handful of people correctly identified it as Galax, or Galax urceolata, which is also called beetleweed and wandflower. Wandflower is easy to understand when you see the white flowers at the tops of long stalks, in bloom mid May-early July.

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This plant grows in the eastern United States, particularly the Appalachians. The wide, shiny, thick and heart-shaped leaves are often used in floral arrangements. Something that I learned while researching this post is that revenue for harvesting this plant, according to a National Forest Service site, runs from $10-25 million dollars annually, with 99% of the harvesting in North Carolina. As with any wild plant, there are restrictions on collection of this plant and a permit is required to harvest on National Forest land. Like other native flowers such as ginseng and ramps, poaching has become a real problem in many areas, with people wanting to harvest the plant to sell, but not wanting to acquire proper permits.

Galax beside a trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Galax beside a trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Here is our next puzzler–another commonly found plant in the eastern US…. see if you recognize it.

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Weekly Puzzler #154: Spiral Fern

Hello and happy Saturday to you all! Now that summer is officially here, what exciting things do you have planned? Hopefully some outside time is on the agenda. I saw a quote recently, that I thought was great. It read, “Forget the box. Think OUTSIDE.”

Check out our next puzzler– my all-time favorite fern. It is especially lovely after a rain when the water sits on the top of each delicate leaf. Have you seen this in a forest near you? Do you know the name of it?

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Here is a video of a patch of it beside a stream. If you want to guess, use the comment box below. This is the first puzzler of our new quarter! I give away prizes four times each year–on the first day of each season. Congratulations to Arden for being our first-day-of-summer winner! Arden will get a sampler pack of my greeting card collection called Beauty is Everywhere. If YOU want to win, you must guess! All correct responses will be entered in the drawing.

Have a lovely weekend! See you again soon.

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Weekly Puzzler #153: Tall White Flower Above Waxy Leaves

Happy Saturday!

This week’s puzzler is a plant, commonly found in southeastern North America. Here in North Carolina it is very common, especially on trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Check out the photos below–have you seen this plant? Do you know the name of it?

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Use the comment box below to give your guess. This is the very LAST week to get your guess in the box for a chance to win this quarter’s drawing. In the past I have given away blank notebooks, greeting card sampler packs and posters. All correct answers will be entered in the drawing, which will take place on the first day of summer–which is next week, on Wednesday, June 21st!

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #152

Hello and happy Saturday! Did you know last week’s insect?

It is a Click Beetle. Click beetles get their name from the slight clicking noise they make when righting themselves.

Check out this video of another kind of click beetle in Kansas, “righting itself.”

Did you know that BEETLES are the largest group of animals in the world? Or that their are MORE species of beetles on Earth than their are species of plants?? Scientists estimate that there are more than 400,000 named species of beetles (with millions more yet to be discovered!)

Beetles are different than other insects in that their first pair of wings is hardened and thickened to protect their fragile second pair of flying wings, which is folded beneath the hard covering. Their latin name, Coleoptera, means, “folded wing.”

Check out some of these beetles–when the light hits some of them just right, they look as beautiful as jewels!

Stag beetlePotato beetleJune bugFireflyFlower beetleWater beetlesGoldenrod soldier beetleSexton beetleOrnate checkered beetleMilkweed beetles matingDung beetleUnidentified beetleTiger-spotted flower lepturineJapanese beetleHercules beetleLadybird beetlesTiger beetleEyed click beetleBeetle on milkweedFireflyCommon eastern fireflyBlister beetleBeetle on milkweedLadybird beetleBeetleLadybird beetle

Here’s the next puzzler…have a great weekend! And Happy Father’s day to all of our Dad’s out there!

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #151

If you’re easily grossed out by insects with gruesome life cycles, this post might not be for you. The insect pictured in last week’s puzzler was a kind of Ichneumon Wasp, a parasitoid insect. In the world there are more than 24,000 species of ichneumon wasps(some sources cite more than 60,000); In North America, there are 5,000 species.

That VERY long “tail” at the end of the insect’s body is actually an ovipositor, or egg laying instrument. Females have dramatically long ovipositotm2-rs that are often much longer than the insect’s entire body.

The most amazing thing about this wasp in my opinion is its remarkable ability to locate a good spot to lay her eggs. To have success she must lay an egg INSIDE the body of another insect–be that the larva of a beetle, caterpillar, bug or other invertebrate.  She first lands on the outside of a tree, dead or alive, and uses her long antennae to feel the tree and listen to what’s under all of that thick bark. Amazingly she listens for vibrations to detect where a fat grub of a beetle is feeding deep beneath the bark. She then turns around and maneuvers her body into a position that allows her to drill into the bark and lay her eggs INSIDE the body of the grub. When the larvae hatch out, they feed on the grub, eating it alive from the inside out!

Yikes. I told you it was gruesome! Some kinds of ichneumon wasps select specific prey and some are more generalists. It can take a female over a half an hour to drill more than 4 inches into the solid wood of trees!

The wasp larvae will continue to feed on the grub or other insect larva until it is time to transform into an adult, at which time the host insect is dead or close to dying.

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A different species of ichneumon wasp laying eggs

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A giant ichneumon wasp laying eggs

Check out a video of this amazing wasp, laying eggs deep inside the bark of a giant tree, into the larva of a wood wasp:

Here is the next puzzler–another insect, but thankfully, without such a gruesome lifeclycle. See if you recognize it.

…and have a fabulous weekend! See you again soon.

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Weekly Puzzler #152: What BIG Eyes You Have!

Check out this striking insect. Have you seen it? Know what it is?

I was sitting in my sunroom recently when this insect landed on the hot tub steps. I ran out and shot a few photos before he flew off. It is only the third time I’ve ever seen one, though I suspect they are not uncommon–it’s just that there are a lot of insects and a lot of land for them to live in.

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Use the comment box below to give your guess. There are only two chances left before my next drawing–on the first day of summer. All correct answers will be entered! Good luck.

And enjoy your weekend!

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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?

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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.

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