Light Up Your Yard with Color during the Dark Days of Winter

Many of us are now decking our houses and yards with lights and decorations, including coniferous pine, spruce, and fir trees, to brighten up this dark time of year. Long ago, some ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over doors and windows to keep away evil spirits and illness. Hollies have long been associated with holidayContinue reading “Light Up Your Yard with Color during the Dark Days of Winter”

On the Move Now

A fall nor’easter just hit south-central Connecticut with 4 inches (102 millimeters) of rain and strong, gusty winds. Storms are life-giving for a little known and seldom seen amphibian, the Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum). Hidden among the leaf litter and under logs around shallow, fishless vernal pools, these stocky, 3- to 5-inch (75- to 125-millimeter)Continue reading “On the Move Now”

Grinnies – Something to Smile About

Grinny, ground hackee, chippie, hackle, and rock squirrel. These are some of the colloquial names for the Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus). The name “chipmunk” is thought to come from the Ojibwe word ajidamoo, meaning “one who descends trees headlong.” Most people think chipmunks are only found on the ground, but they are actually very goodContinue reading “Grinnies – Something to Smile About”

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Neotropical birds are migrating south now. Recently, a cold front brought winds from the north. On one evening BirdCast predicted that 300 million birds would fill the night sky. What do these birds eat to fuel their journey? Many insect-eating birds add fruit to their diet when insect populations decline in the fall. Native herbaceousContinue reading “The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful”

You Won’t Sneeze with These

It’s the beginning of autumn, and the fields and forest edges are now draped in a golden cloak. The goldenrods (Solidago spp. and Euthamia spp.) are coming into their peak of flowering just as Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterflies need them to fuel their 3,000-mile (more than 4,800 kilometers) journey to winter in the mountains ofContinue reading “You Won’t Sneeze with These”

A Murder Hornet It Isn’t

I recently heard from an agitated homeowner who thought she had seen a “murder hornet” in her yard. Are these insects in Connecticut? She hadn’t and they’re not. Before you reach for a can of insecticide, know that what she saw was an Eastern Cicada Killer (Sphecius speciosus), a type of digger wasp. Although itContinue reading “A Murder Hornet It Isn’t”