Although its cold out there, and there is lots of snow. Lots and lots. If you look close, the tree buds are promising a spring.
You’ve probably noticed. Its impossible to miss them. They are everywhere. Pine cones. Berkshire County is having a mast year for pine cones.
Why? Well 2016, when the pine cones were developing, yes it takes 3 years for the trees to develop the seeds, it was a hot summer. The trees reaction to less water in the ecosystem was to make more pine cones. Getting ready, just in case to avoid predators, or worse weather conditions. We are now seeing the results.
This guy was flopping around in the sink. At first glance I thought it was a cockroach, but it was a giant water bug (true bug hemipteran), scientific name Belostomatidae. Its an aquatic insect, but they do fly at night in search for mates. These bugs have good eyes for both underwater and out of the water vision. And the fathers are the ones who take care of the young. The female lays the eggs on their backs and the males protect the eggs until they are ready to hatch.
But don’t touch! They may be interesting to look at but they have biting, piercing sucking mouth parts that inflict a painful bite with poison that can hurt for weeks. Their weapon is a rostrum 1/4 the length of their bodies. They use it to inject prey with digestive saliva and then suck the insides out. Prey can be anything from an aquatic invertebrate, snails, fish, frogs and even snapping turtles.
The trouble-makers are back!
Box Elder Bugs are everywhere, but they are harmless.
This year’s Berkshire Bioblitz was fun and educational! The weather was perfect. We held it in Great Barrington MA at Thomas & Palmer Brook as part of the 50 year celebration of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.
Finally tally for the day was: 542 species.
We found one of the biggest red oak trees in Berkshire County measuring 16 feet across! Some rare algae, and the beaver entertained us during the owl prowl by slapping his tail and getting water all over Berkshire Naturalist: Jason Crockwell.
This year’s Berkshire Bioblitz was hosted by Berkshire Natural Resources Council, and sponsored by Dr. Augie’s and the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT). Special thanks to Mariah from BNRC and Elizabeth from BEAT for all their help and organization.
Next year William’s College is hosting the Berkshire Bioblitz at Hopkins Forest–and its going to be a big one! Keep posted for more details.
This September in Great Barrington!
Join us for 24 hours of biodiversity immersion! Starting at 12 noon on Saturday September 16th and running through until 12 noon Sunday September 17th.
There will be nature walks with over 20 specialist.
You can join us at any time for as long as you would like. Forest walks, meadow walks and pond exploration will be taking place throughout the day.
The Berkshire Environmental Action Team will be setting up an invasive plant species exhibit. And ask to see one of the biggest oak tree in the Berkshires!!
There will be live animals to meet up close and personal. At dark there will be a moth light experience, bring your camera if you want. We will be going on an “Owl Prowl” in the dark, bring your flashlight.
Follow the signs for parking.
All over Berkshire county there are beautiful white flowers growing along the road side. My friend who loves plants, called them Queen Anne’s Lace, but its too early for those plants to be flowering.
They look like Queen Anne’s Lace, but they are actually ‘ground elder’ also known as Bishop’s Weed or Gout Weed. They are in the carrot family like Queen Anne’s Lace, but they are not the same plant.
The scientific name for this plant is Aegopodium podagraria, and the scientific name for Queen Anne’s Lace is Daucus carota. They are in the same family ‘Apiaceae’, cousins, but not twins. Although the flowers look alike at first glance.
These plants have leaves that are edible and have medicinal value.
These plants spread via underground root systems made of rhizomes. They make a thick mat and keep out weeds and other plants. I would not recommend planting them in a garden, but they make a great ground cover. They are an introduced species to the Berkshires and not native. On the upside, they are the favorite food of the woodchucks on my property.