“Yellow jacket” is the name for a group of stinging insects that includes many different species and a couple genera in North America. With food sources decreasing as the growing season winds down matched with yellow jacket colonies at the peak of their annual populations, we are left with lots of stinging insects desperate for food. A perceived threat to yellow jacket nests can quickly inspire the residents to come out with their stingers blazing.
With the encroachment of winter and being cold blooded, all of our amphibians get a bit creative with how they make it through the cold season. Toads get digging. Starting roughly in September, they will back themselves into the soil and use their powerful hind legs to excavate a burrow.
Mullein, scientifically known as Verbascum thapsus, is not native to North America, though it is now considered naturalized as it has been here for more than 200 years. When Europeans came to North America in search of a better life, long before the Revolutionary War, their packing list included the seeds of mullein.
When it comes to caterpillars, if they look a little crazy and colorful with spiky hairs and are as carefree as a porcupine in the lawn, it’s a good general rule not to touch them.
Adult monarch butterflies seek out milkweed in particular to lay their eggs. Milkweed is a native species so named for the slightly toxic milky sap that oozes from the broken leaves or stems. This diet of milkweed, which the monarch caterpillars evolved to not be harmed by, is actually essential to their survival.
The chicken mushroom grows on hardwood trees, typically oak, all across North America. The brilliant sulphur yellow and orange of this shelf mushroom makes it easy to identify and it’s a delicious edible mushroom.
There truly are no words to capture the beauty and purity of this bird’s song. The notes are crisp yet wavering, sad and reflective yet untroubled. This song captures and conveys human feeling and human emotion across a barrier of fur and feather, beak and lips.
At high tide, this flowering plant is often submerged in saltwater, light purple blossoms swaying beneath the green sea. Sea lavender’s juicy, thick leaves have an important role in this task: they are specialized to be able to pump salt out of their tissues.
I’ve often heard it said that the wildness of lowbush blueberries make them far superior to highbush blueberries. But in truth, our lowbush blueberries are actually a diverse collection of species, and our highbush blueberries are as wildly Maine as pine trees and lobster.
Deer flies lay their eggs in or around water where they will hatch and the young larvae will grow up eating decomposing organic matter. When they emerge as adults the males tend to feast exclusively on fruit and nectar, but the females—compelled by the increased metabolic demands of motherhood—look for energy dense food in the form of blood, and fresh blood at that.