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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

September, 2018

Leeches: They Don’t All Suck Blood


Most folks who’ve enjoyed a dip in the local swimming hole – whether at a pond, lake, or river – have probably found, on occasion, a leech or two stuck to their skin while toweling off afterwards. Although some might think these slimy little suckers are gross, they mean – and do – no harm. They’re just hungry. “With some 600 species, there’s a surprising amount of diversity,” said Adam Weaver, a biology professor at Vermont’s Saint Michael’s College. And the majority of leeches aren’t even bloodsuckers. Weaver said scientists estimate about 10 percent of leech species – which are >>More


August, 2018

Early Fall Leaf Color: The Science


Seems like competitiveness may be part of human DNA. But it does not always pay to be first. No prize awaits the fastest car that passes a radar patrol, or the first person to come down with the flu at the office. And for trees, the first ones to turn color in autumn are not envied by their peers. If trees experience envy, which no one knows. The first trees to show orange and red and drop their leaves are telling us to get quotes from a tree-removal company, because they are not going to last. The reason that some >>More


August, 2018

Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day 2018


The 11th Annual Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day is set to be celebrated at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge at 977 Springfield Road in Wilmington, on Sunday September 2nd, from 10 am to 6 pm. The Theme this year will be the ongoing challenges Adirondack Wildlife face in a changing climate. The following topics will be discussed at the wolf, coyote and bear enclosures throughout the day: Which non-native animals are increasingly spending seasons in the Adirondacks? Which tick species are increasing, who do they impact, and which animals eat ticks? Should we control the deer & rodent populations, and if so, >>More


August, 2018

Meet Rosy Maple, Contender for Cutest Moth


The church service was about to begin when some breathless kids pulled me out of my seat to “come see this awesome, pretty, pink-and-yellow, fuzzy baby moth!” on the Sunday school door. It was a rosy maple moth, Dryocampa rubicunda, notable for its dipped-in-sherbet coloring. The moth’s coloring can vary from pink to purple and from yellow to white. “Our” moth had purplish-pink forewings with a creamy-yellow band across the middle. The hindwings were pale yellow with a touch of pink along the edges. Its woolly body was bright yellow above and raspberry pink below. The same pink spilled onto >>More


August, 2018

Examining Threats to Monarch Butterfly Migration


The monarch butterfly may be the most recognized butterfly in the world. With the exception of the Polar Regions, the medium-size butterflies can be found on every continent on Earth. Their spectacular migration in eastern North America, from breeding locations in Canada and the United States to overwintering sites in Mexico, is nothing short of a miracle and has been the subject of decades of study. Monarchs have four life stages; egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa, and adult (butterfly). The search for milkweed, the only food that monarch larvae eat, is the sole reason for the annual monarch migration. This is >>More


August, 2018

Wildlife: The Adirondack Frog and Toad Choir


If you walk by a pond on a summer evening, you may hear the deep “jug-o-rum” of a bullfrog or the “tung” of a green frog, sounding like a plucked banjo string. Sometimes you’ll hear a whole chorus of frogs, the songs competing with each other for attention. The frogs are not singing for our enjoyment, of course. Most frog sounds we hear are advertisement calls to attract mates, and the callers are usually males. In some species, these vocalizations also help male frogs maintain territories against other males. If you look closely around the shore of a pond, you >>More


August, 2018

Kingfishers: Birds of Middle Earth


I usually hear the kingfisher before I see it. If I’m reading by the lake, its harsh, rattling call gets my attention. I look up to see the flashy blue-and-white bird fly to a new perch or hover over the water scanning for small fish and crayfish. If I’m kayaking, I try to follow it along the shore as it moves from one overhanging limb to another. This lasts for about two moves: they are easily disturbed and are fast fliers. Stalking the bird recently, I began to wonder about its nest. As common as belted kingfishers are, I didn’t >>More


August, 2018

Juvenile Ospreys Rescued From Burning Power Pole


NYS Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Stephen Gonyeau reported that on July 27th he was called to Putnam, east of Lake George, to assist with an osprey nest that had caught fire on a power pole. Gonyeau said he arrived to find two juveniles on the ground and learned that a third had been transported to a wildlife rehabilitator, but was unable to recover from its injuries. DEC reported that the power company repaired the damaged pole and placed a nesting platform on top. One of the juveniles was returned to the nest and the remaining osprey was transported to a >>More


August, 2018

The Northeast’s Most Alarming Insect


If freshwater insects did senior superlatives before graduating from aquatic life, what would yearbook entries say about dobsonflies? Largest? Most ferocious? Most likely to change names? Most likely to bite a human? Or to be used as fish bait? Or to be confused with a centipede? All of these superlatives apply to larval hellgrammites – insects that, upon emerging from the water, promptly change names to become dobsonflies. These fascinating predators spend their larval stage eating other invertebrates, including other hellgrammites. They’re equipped with impressive mandibles that can open wider than the width of their own heads and can handily >>More


August, 2018

Monarch Butterfly Lecture Planned At Wild Center


AdkAction has announced a free lecture, “Monarchs in a Changing World,” by Dr. Karen Oberhauser on Friday, August 10 at 6 pm in the Flammer Theater at The Wild Center. Monarchs, like many other organisms, are facing the challenges of a rapidly changing climate. Their capacity to cope with these changes remains uncertain. Climate also affects monarchs indirectly, by altering the habitats and plant species on which they depend, or the distribution and abundance of their predators and parasites. Dr. Oberhauser will explain her work using climate models to understand how these direct and indirect inputs might affect monarch in >>More




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