invasive species · Nature Academy of the Berkshires · plants · Uncategorized

White Flowers Along the Road

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.

Nature Academy of the Berkshires · terrarium

Terrarium Goings Ons

There is not much happening outside this week, a couple of skiddish squirrels, a rabbit I never get to see and a sneaky fox. The crows have been around, but they keep their distance too. Inside its been interesting. Inside the terrarium that is. The caterpillar has been out and about, a cranefly emerged, a spider has been spotted, and the slugs, they have been having a blast! I’ve watched them glide up the glass and slide down as though they are playing. The babies, in the night, I found them free falling from the top of the tank on long strings of slime. Yup. They do that. Today one was sliding over a marble like a circus animal. Wish I had a video of that too. Here is a time lapse video.

backyard animals · Nature Academy of the Berkshires · winter

Cache

squirrel-holeWe have had a good amount of snow fall over the past two weeks. Its pretty. Its white, and its great for animal tracking. But that first heavy snow, when it was windy and cold and nobody wanted to be outside. The squirrels braved it. And in my yard they braved it for peanuts. I found several of these holes in the snow at the base of trees. The squirrels didn’t want to spend any more time in the cold than they had to, so it was jump, dig, grab and back up the tree. The peanut shells were then tossed on top of the snow. I think the squirrels are going to be my favorite winter animals to watch this year.

backyard bugs · insects · Nature Academy of the Berkshires · winter

Put on Your Winter Coat

It was late November, during the wet snow storm when I spied this moth on the trunk of a tree by the lake. Luckily it was wearing a winter coat. It is a noctuid moth, I believe, belonging in the family “Papaipema” that is only found in North America.

After doing a little research it appears that this is a cold weather moth, not usually snow on the ground cold like it was on this day, but late fall cold. The caterpillar is rarely seen because it bores into roots, rhizomes, and stems of herbaceous plants and stays there all summer. The moth appears late in the season when we are not expecting to see many moths or insects. These hardy leps, then lay their eggs in the fall with the caterpillars hatching in the spring, boring into their food plant and starting the cycle all over again.

We get an added treat in this picture to see the lichen on the tree photosynthesizing in the vapors of the damp snow.

backyard bugs · Nature Academy of the Berkshires

Isopod in the Snow

isopod-in-the-snowWe spotted this little wood louse in the snow during the storm this week. I’m guessing it was blown there by the wind. Poor thing. I gathered it up and placed it in the warm leaves by the foundation of the house.

These creatures are fascinating and there will be more on their life cycle and genetic systems later, but for now, just remember they hide all winter, so if you see one in the snow, save it!