Raspy Cricket

Carolina leaf-roller, Camptonotus carolinensis. A cutie of a cricket with antennae that are at least five times the length of its body.
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Got Milk?

Marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris). I promise I didn't paint the white mustache on this critter. It really looks like this - honest!
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Tucked under one of the clapboards on a building at work - a variegated fritillary chrysalis (Euptoieta claudia). The caterpillar fed on Passionflower (Passiflora) vines and then crawled a significant distance to this site. We saw the caterpillar soon after it had crawled up and hooked on. Two days later it had formed this rather striking chrysalis.
Now we wait.
Update: 10-1-07
Sad to report that something got to this chrysalis. No butterfly will emerge. I hope that some other critter ate it. That is somehow preferable to thinking that some person destroyed it on purpose, for no reason other than it was there.


Threat Assessment - OLF

We got some unexpected and unwelcome news last week. The Navy has us in its sights as a possible location for an outlying landing field where F18 Super Hornets would make nighttime touch and go landings. Two possible sites have been earmarked, both alarmingly close to the home swamp. Two more sites have been identified in the county where I work - one just across the road from the work swamp as a matter of fact.

The news is disheartening, but we will not go down without a fight. If you value two of the last quiet, natural spaces left to us then please keep us in your thoughts and support us if you can. For more information, email me using the link in the sidebar.

Hang Tight

Green treefrog, Hyla cinerea

It's amazing what you can find during the course of a single walk. The gray treefrog and the tall grass posted earlier where also from the same walk that offered up the images in this post.
I think I took over 190 pictures that day. So much to see!

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A sawfly larva of some sort, probably of the Tenthredinidae family. These guys used to fool me into thinking they were caterpillars until I learned the trick of counting the pairs of prolegs present. More than five pairs indicates it isn't a moth or butterfly cat. So what's are prolegs? Those stumpy little unjointed legs along the body.

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Yellow-necked caterpillar, Datana ministra.

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Pearly wood-nymph caterpillar, Eudryas unio. This one will turn into a pretty moth.

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Evergreen bagworm moth larval case, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis. The female is wingless and never leaves the larval case.

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Definite tussock moth, Orgyia definita. Despite its fierce appearance, it's not a stinging cat. Some people may be sensitive to the hairs, though. In reading about this caterpillar I learned something very interesting. It seems the females of this group are wingless and lay their eggs on the outside of their cocoons.
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Apparently this caterpillar did not love the skin it was in...I guess it was getting a little too tight :) A Smartweed caterpillar, Acronicta oblinita, grows up to become a Smeared Dagger Moth.

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This little fellow was tricky to spot, but he couldn't hide from the eagle-eyed Treebeard! We aren't 100% sure about the ID of this one. It is probably a Gray Hairstreak caterpillar, Strymon melinus.

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Another tussock moth. This one is the White-marked tussock, Orygia leucostigma. Some people may experience allergic reactions when the hairs of this cat come in contact with the skin, particularly in sensitve areas like the stomach, inner arm or back.

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Spittle mass from, you guessed it, a spittlebug (Cercopidae family). The nymph forms the spittle from secreted fluids. The adults in this family look like leafhoppers, to which they are closely related.
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Watch It!

Luckily for this little fellow, I tend to watch where I step as I move along the trail. Sitting right smack in the middle of the trail and unconcerned with my passing, this Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) gave me a smile as I snapped its picture.
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Skink Scat

So, you're thinking to yourself, Swampy's gone over the edge at last. She's posting pictures of skink scat. Well, yeah, I am. But I am doing it for a reason. From time to time I check my site meter and look at the referrals. I have discovered that there is someone out there in cyberspace who needs to know what skink droppings look like.

Here you go, mystery person. This is a picture of the droppings of a five-lined skink, Eumeces sp., a lizard common to our area.
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Road Trip

Work took me to another state park this week. On Tuesday Treebeard and I helped out with Native American Week at Pettigrew State Park. I manned a station on animals hunted by Native Americans and Treebeard manned one on projectiles. He had fun showing the kids how to use an atlatl and then letting them take a go at it. He also had a good time showing them how bows and arrows were made.

One of the features of Pettigrew is Lake Phelps, a large, shallow lake fed by rainwater. It covers an impressive area: over 16,000 acres. This shot was taken from the boat ramp at the park. When our kids were little we used to bring our canoe to this lake and spend the day exploring. Clear shallow water and a sandy bottom made it a perfect playground. We would get out of the canoe and pull it along behind us. If anyone got tired, the canoe was there to provide a nice resting spot.

If you'd like more information about Pettigrew, pop over to www.ncsparks.net and click on the Visit a park link to the left.
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Sky Scraper

Some sort of really tall grass we found during our walk this afternoon. No clue whatsoever as to genus or species - I don't do Poaceae.
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You Don't See Me

...at least that's what this caterpillar thinks as it mimics a dead leaf. This is the larva of a moth called a Curve-Lined Owlet (Phyprosopus callitrichoides). When you disturb this bizarre little critter it sort of rocks side to side like a dead leaf might if a breeze blew against it. Look for it on the leaves of greenbrier.
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Snowberry Clearwing

You gotta love a caterpillar that will munch out on Japanese honeysuckle. This is the larva of a snowberry clearwing, Hemaris diffinis. The adult moth resembles a bumblebee.
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Even The Mighty Fall

Are you familiar with the wasps called Cicada Killers, Sphecius speciosus? They are solitary, nest in the ground and feed their larvae cicadas. Big, robust wasps, they measure about 50 mm (~2 inches) and are equipped with formidable mandibles and impressive stingers. I found this freshly dead one on the ground where it was in the process of being dismantled by some industrious ants which, by the way, are members of the same order as the cicada killer, Hymenoptera. After I snapped a few pictures, I placed the wasp back down on the ground so the ants could continue their work.
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