Journal for May 9, 2011

Finally – a rainy day so I can do some computer work!  The weather has been so beautiful that I’ve spent most of the last week outside.

The most exciting sighting this week was a Red-headed Woodpecker!  I’d never seen one at the farm before.

Red-headed Woodpeckers used to be abundant in the midwest – especially during the period of the Chestnut blight and Dutch Elm disease, since they nest in holes in dead trees.  Their population is now declining dramatically, and I haven’t seen one – anywhere – in years.  They like dead trees for nesting, and open areas with short vegetation – like savannas.  That’s just the kind of landscape we’re restoring, so I’m hoping this one will stick around and raise a family.

We’ve had some beautiful weather this week – dramatic clouds with sun peeking through.  And the spring leaves are making a haze of green on the trees.


There are lots of flowers blooming now.

Yellow Violet

Wood Betony

Birds Foot Violet


Small White Violet


Rue Anemone


Hoary Puccoon


There are small bees nectaring on both native and introduced flowers on these sunny days.  I like the way they dig their way deep into the flower, and stay there, with their heads buried in the petals, for a long time.


I saw my first American Lady a few days ago.  American Ladies lay their eggs on Pussytoes and related plants, and they’re one of the first butterflies to migrate up in the spring.

I’ve also been seeing a lot of Spring Azures.  The tops of their wings look so blue against the muddy pond edges where they like to hang out.  The ones I get photos of are always sitting still, so they only show the gray outside of their wings.  This one was along a wooded path.


The woodchucks behind the house have been very busy collecting leaves and sticks, and tucking them into their holes in the cliff.


I checked the Frog Pond, and all the Wood Frog eggs have hatched – there are hundreds of tiny tadpoles.


I found several snakes this week.  The only one I got a good look at was a small Brown Snake.


Finally, the mothing season has begun!  I set up my lights for the first time this week.  This is my set up – a white sheet taped to the garage door, and UV light bulbs in a shoplight fixture.  It’s still early for the bigger moths, but I got quite a few species – some that I’d never seen before.  It’s always exciting to see what shows up!


Here are some of the ones I was able to identify.

I think this one is an Olive-and-Black Carpet (Acasis viridata)


This is a beautiful moth that I’ve seen before – a Lappet Moth.  I saw at least a dozen of these this week.

Another view of a Lappet Moth


This is a Gray Spring Moth.


Another view of the Gray Spring Moth.  An interesting thing about this moth is that it often rests like a butterfly – with it’s wings over its back.


This creature showed up at my moth sheet.  It’s a Giant Water Bug – its body – without legs – is about 2 1/2 inches long.  It really startled me when it flew in and started buzzing around.  It will eat any small creatures it can catch – including small frogs.  It will also bite if it’s annoyed, so I was careful not to handle it.

A few more moths:

White Furcula.


Curve-toothed Geometer


Dogwood Thyatirid Moth


Linden Prominent


This is a moth that I’ve found before – a Two-lined Hooktip.

I’m still amazed by the variety of patterns and colors in the moths I see.  I never get tired of looking at them.  They all have such different lives – different strategies for evading predators, and surviving the winters, and their caterpillars look different too, and have even more different strategies for getting food and avoiding predators.