Autumn is officially here – time for raking leaves, sipping pumpkin lattes, putting together Halloween costumes and trading shorts and swimsuits for pants and jackets.
But humans aren’t the only ones who prepare for a seasonal change. Our furry, feathered and scaly friends know it’s fall too.
Here are some changes in local wildlife behavior you might notice:
• Both farmers and animals are busy during fall harvest season. Hibernating animals such as groundhogs, chipmunks and bears feast on nature’s buffet of berries, apples, nuts and seeds to build up reserves of fat that will keep them warm during their long winter’s nap.
• Why did the snake cross the road? To get to its winter den! These cold-blooded animals have no way to keep warm... Keep reading.
July 29, 2013
Posted By: Ask a Naturalist
Mosquitoes have been out full force this year due to the extremely wet summer, so our naturalists have been fielding lots of questions about them. They are fascinating creatures!
Some mosquitoes lay their eggs on the surface of stagnant water, while others lay their eggs in damp soil where flooding will occur. Once they hatch from eggs, young mosquitoes need water to grow into their larval, pupal and adult stages. We’re most familiar with the adult mosquito, which does not reside in water but travels to find food.
Both male and female mosquitoes rely on nectar-producing plants and flower for their nutrition.
Mosquitoes do not actually bite; instead, they pierce and suck. Their mouth, called a proboscis, acts like a straw.
Only female mosquitoes require a blood meal and... Keep reading.
April 18, 2013
Posted By: Ask a Naturalist
Spring has sprung and it’s time to start your spring gardening!
When planning and planting your spring garden, you want to keep several things in mind.
Make sure you plant something that is non-invasive. You don’t want your yard or garden taken over by an aggressive plant.
Avoid poisonous plants. Believe it or not, there are many plants where some or all parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested. Keep this in mind if you have children or pets that will be in your yard. Know the plants you are planting, and find out if they would be a danger in your yard.
Try to stick with native plants. Native plants are well suited to your soil and climate. In North Carolina, the widespread use of non-native plants is threatening the population of native plants.
There are... Keep reading.
Its that time of year again where it seems with each turn, we encounter one of our favorite animals to fear: the lovely spider.
The truth is I am actually very fond of these little guys; they play such an important role in the ecosystem and are often not given enough credit by us humans. In fact, just this morning, I was observing numerous spiders creating intricate insect catching systems in my backyard. In the short five minutes I was outside, I discovered a small triangulate orb weaver (Verrucosa arenata) in the grass, a small cluster of basilica spiders (Mecynogealemniscata) in the process of weaving and a beautiful black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) dangling from her web. These spiders are known for creating a zigzag down... Keep reading.
Summer is in full swing! And, I think there is nothing more relaxing than sitting outside on a warm summer night watching the lightening bugs put on their show. However, these beautiful nights are often accompanied by sweltering hot days than can sometimes be a little more than just uncomfortable. Many humans, as well as animals often find themselves constantly seeking shade and refreshing water during these extra hot days.
Shade can be found in many places where there are towering structures, but nothing can compare to the natural shade trees provide. Trees provide cool and well-lit areas where people can continue to participate in favorite summer recreational activities without the worry of overheating... Keep reading.
Well, spring has sprung and Museum Naturalists are fielding calls about orphaned wildlife. Contrary to popular belief, most baby animals have not been abandoned; parents will leave the nest to search for food and will often remain hidden if you are nearby.
If you should happen upon a baby animal that you believe is an orphan, do not disturb the nest.
First, find a hiding spot and watch for the parents to return; depending on the species the parents may be away for a few minutes or a couple of hours.
If after several hours you have not seen the parent return, call either your local Department of Natural Resources or a local wildlife rehabilitator. These organizations will provide instructions as to the best way to deal with your specific situation. ... Keep reading.