Most Popular Posts

by , Ranger
Greg Dodge is a professional naturalist as well as a writer, videographer and producer of natural history DVDs. His images have been used in various TV productions, museum displays, and corporate videos. Above all, he has a fascination and passion for all things natural.
Stop by and say hello Tuesday thru Saturday in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, or on the Dino Trail.

Northern Water Snake vs Copperhead

May 29th, 2013

It’s almost a daily occurrence, I’d be watching a water snake coiled up and snoozing in the grass on the north side of the Wetlands, point the snake out to someone passing by and they’d say, “That looks like a Copperhead,” or, “Is that a moccasin, cottonmouth?” or most often, “Is it poisonous?”

The answer to that statement and those questions is always no.

In explaining my no response, last question first, no snake in our area is poisonous. It’s an honest mistake but the correct word for a biting snake with fangs that injects toxins into its prey, or enemies, is venomous.

Moving forward, water moccasins, or cottonmouths as they are often called, are scarce above the fall line, or coastal plain in our state. This too is an honest mistake for some folks. The Museum, in Durham, is not very far from the fall line (just one county east) and many people who visit us live below the fall line where they are likely to encounter cottonmouths. That’s not to say that a cottonmouth has never been or never will be seen above the fall line or in Durham, but the chances are pretty slim.

The copperheads? The pictures below do a better job of replying to the statement, “That looks like a Copperhead,” than simple words.

A Northern Water Snake crossing the path in Explore the Wild (5/7/13).

A Copperhead crossing the path in Explore the Wild (5/17/13).

And here they are again in direct comparison.

Water snake (top) and copperhead.

Putting aside the broad, copper-colored head of the bottom snake, look at the pattern. Although variable, the pattern on the northern water snake is never as clean and bright as it is on the copperhead, at least in our area.

Both patterns serve their wearer well in their respective habitats. The close banding on the water snake works well in the reflective, dappled light of a watery domain while the wide-spaced, hourglass pattern on the copperhead suits its leaf-littered wooded haunts. They’re easy to see on the pavement, but not so easy to spot in their natural habitats.

If you like to hike in the woods you’ve probably walked past more copperheads than you’d care to know about. You may have even stepped directly over one without realizing it. But that’s a story for another time.

Look at the patterns on the snakes above and you should have no problem differentiating a northern water snake from a copperhead. As I said, the water snake’s pattern is variable, some may be darker, lighter, or may even be quite red, but the pattern on the copperhead is locally consistent.

Have fun!

 

Join the conversation:

  1. thanks. Everyone thinks I’m a dork for dissing their supposed copperhead. Now I point them here.

    Posted by Bill Knighton
  2. Ranger Comment :

    What’s your location, Bill?

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  3. Near lake wheeler , Raleigh.

    Posted by Bill knighton
  4. This is a useful comparison of the markings on the two snakes. I have seen both in this area, around the Eno River, in particular.

    Posted by Robin Sheedy
  5. Ranger Comment :

    Yes, the question of “Is that a Copperhead?” comes up so often here at the Museum that I thought it a good idea to point the differences out in simple photos.
    Thanks,

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  6. Thank you so much for this article! I used to work as an assistant wildlife biologist in NJ specializing in T&E surveys and it drives me crazy the amount of people down here who see a snake and just assume its venomous and kill it. The NC Herp Society doesnt seem to really update their NC Snake guide or website with regard to changes in scientific names and ranges so it makes it very hard to direct people to the proper resources for them to decide for themselves.

    Posted by Kat Squibb
  7. Just found your site when I was looking up a snake that was near my husband (who was outside – in Durham – mowing the lawn). Wasn’t sure what it was, and didn’t want to kill an innocent creature, now I know it was a copperhead. Thank you for posting this! It was very helpful.

    Posted by Barbara
  8. Ranger Comment :

    Good, glad to have helped.
    Thanks.

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  9. Hi, I was in the northeastern part of Tennessee near a lake. I was around 5-8 miles away from it. This area does have water snakes (I’ve seen their little heads sometimes in the lake) and copperheads are prevalent.

    I ran into a snake that was around 4-6 ft in my opinion. It was a dark gray, almost black with an off white/pale yellow tinted pattern on it’s back.

    I was in 2 ft of this beautiful snake when I had the thought to back off a little bit because I didn’t really know what a copperhead looked like.

    But it was on the road (basking I’m assuming) and was starting to head into the tall grass/woods nearby.

    I never got a look at the head, and it didn’t seem aggressive (but then again, I wasn’t bothering it).

    Would you say it was a darker morph of a copperhead or a water snake? It was a beautiful snake regardless.

    Posted by Angela W.
  10. Ranger Comment :

    Hard to say exactly what you saw. Judging from the size of the snake you described, and the location, I’d have to guess it may have been one of the rat snakes. See here: http://www.tennsnakes.org/tn_ratsnake.htm
    Thanks,

    Posted by Greg Dodge

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

by , Ranger
Greg Dodge is a professional naturalist as well as a writer, videographer and producer of natural history DVDs. His images have been used in various TV productions, museum displays, and corporate videos. Above all, he has a fascination and passion for all things natural.
Stop by and say hello Tuesday thru Saturday in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, or on the Dino Trail.

The Big White Tree with the Peeling Bark

March 3rd, 2010
am sycamore

American Sycamore

I was recently asked whether or not I knew why the bark on American Sycamore drops off the tree in large thin flakes. Coincidentally, while walking around the Outdoor Exhibits this winter with camera in hand, I’ve been taking photos of various trees to use on this blog in a series of informal, mini-field guides. My intention was to start with some of the more readily identifiable winter trees, trees without leaves. Although winter’s nearly over, this is a good time to squeeze in at least one of those mini-guides.

One of the easiest of trees to identify is the American Sycamore. It’s white upper bark standing off against the winter sky, and other trees in the forest, make it hard to miss and appreciate.

Sycamore is a tree of the bottomlands. Just about any stream or river in our area has it’s share of sycamores growing along its banks, often alongside River Birch. Here at the Museum it grows next to the Wetlands as well as in the swamp between Catch the Wind and Explore the Wild. This handsome tree is often planted along city streets but its roots are near the water.

Many trees have a different type of bark at the base of the trunk than they do at the younger, upper portion of the tree. The sycamore takes this to the extreme.

Take a look at the tree on the right. Scroll up and follow the bark up to the top. It starts out as “typical” gray bark. As you scroll up you’ll notice that the darker bark begins to flake off until finally it becomes nearly all white at the top of the tree.

Towards the middle of the three, starting at about a quarter to a third-way up the tree, the bark often appears “camouflaged” with various gray, brown, and green hues.

Below are some close-ups of the bark.

lower bark

The lower portion of the trunk has rough gray-brown bark.

middle of tree

The bark becomes scaly and flakes off about 1/4 the way up the trunk. It often appears as if camouflaged.

Towards the top of mature trees the bark may be nearly all white.

But, why do sycamores shed their bark? Why does the bark peel off in large thin flakes all season long? I’ve sometimes wondered that myself, but apparently not long or hard enough to actually find out…until now.

Trees have bark to help protect them from losing moisture and drying out, protect themselves from insects (although there are many insects that get past this defense), birds (woodpeckers go in after the insects), and disease. And, all trees have bark specific to the trees themselves. Flowering Dogwood has scaly “alligator” bark. Loblolly Pine has furrowed, segmented bark which bares a resemblance to the loblollies on a dried lake bed. Shagbark Hickory has a shaggy appearance with big, gray pieces of bark sticking out from the trunk. Sycamore has bark that peels off and becomes white near the upper portion of the tree.

What evolutionary advantage is it for a tree to shed it’s bark the way sycamores do? Everything from the tree’s favored habitat to photosynthesis has been suggested by people who should know, people who study trees. Most of the theories that I’ve read seem like sound reasons for this bark shedding habit. Apparently though, there is no definitive answer to the question of why this tree looks and behaves the way it does.

Instead of me quoting or paraphrasing the various suggested answers to this question, from another source, it may be easier for you to read them yourself. The linked article is from the Daily Plant out of NYC, NY and tries to answer the question of why sycamore sheds its bark through an interview with Dr. Marc Abrams, Professor of Forest Ecology at Penn State University.

Oh yeah, back to the identification of the tree. If the bark doesn’t nail down the ID of this tree for you, perhaps the many fruit balls that typically dangle from the branches will do it.

Sycamore has fruit balls on its branches all winter.

The fruit hang from the tree throughout the winter, are about an inch to an inch and a quarter in diameter and, unlike the spiky seed balls of Sweetgum, are soft to the touch.

On your next walk through Explore the Wild stop at the platform midway down the boardwalk. If you stand facing the Animal Footprints Exhibit and look about 40 degrees or so to your left you’ll see an excellent example of an American Sycamore with all of the features described above. Another is about the same amount of degrees to your right. If you look about 90 degrees to your right you’ll see a slim, straight sycamore which is nearly all green, all the way to the crown. Why is this sycamore green and not white? That one will have to wait for another day, maybe.

Enjoy your walk.

Join the conversation:

  1. We have a tree like that in our yard and we never knew what kind of a tree it was. Know we know…

    Posted by Joseph Caswell
  2. Thanks for the post!! Very informative, if not totally conclusive. I was looking at the sycamores again yesterday and noticed that, along with their fruit balls, there were what looked like some little balls of fluff hanging from the branches. I guess the seeds are about ready to disperse? Has the warmer weather awakened them?

    Posted by Leslie A
  3. Ranger Comment :

    That’s right, the seeds are ready to disperse. The balls break apart and the seeds are cast to the wind. In fact, with the steady SW winds today (Wednesday, 3/10) I saw many of the seeds floating by me like little paratroopers as I stood on the boardwalk and elsewhere in Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind.

    Posted by Greg Dodge, Ranger
  4. We have dozens of these trees in my neighborhood, and I couldn’t figure out if they were diseased or what was the reason for them shedding their bark. I couldn’t identify them either except that they were white where the bark was gone. Thanks for clearing up this mystery for me.

    Posted by Elizabeth Westra
  5. Ranger Comment :

    My pleasure, Elizabeth.
    Although these trees are associated with wet areas they have been planted extensively along streets and avenues across the country. How many towns and cities have a Sycamore Avenue, Lane, or Street?
    Thanks,

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  6. Thanks for the info–tried several sites to identify but mostly leaf ID’S. I’m a “recycler” of trees, i.e., in my fireplace or neighbors with woodstoves and the ash goes to my compost. Have several downed A.S. in my area and wanted to know if hardwood before I “light up?” How hard is A.S.??

    Posted by Jim McDole
  7. Ranger Comment :

    I’ve never burned sycamore but a quick search revealed that it is “OK” to burn, not the best but it will produce a moderate amount of heat. Make sure that you season it, let it dry out. I would think that if you’re cutting it now it probably won’t be ready before next winter.
    Good luck,

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  8. Thanks for the info!! Your site’s the best.

    Posted by Jim McDole
  9. I never thought about the trunk of a large, mature sycamore continuing to grow when I had a tree house built around mine in 2008. Now the tree has filled the gap in the flooring and has popped some of the smaller boards loose. Is there any chance that other areas will grow around the framing, like in the roof, or is my tree house doomed?

    Posted by Lynette Gaines
  10. Ranger Comment :

    Not being able to see your tree house I can’t tell what may happen to it, but yeah, the tree will continue to grow as long as it’s alive. There is more of a height limit than there is a girth limit, the trunk keeps getting wider, hence the rings inside the trunk. There’s a tree near Waynesville, NC that is “132 feet tall and 268 inches wide” (probably means 268 inches in circumference), which is about 22.3 feet in circumference. There’s a stump of a dead sycamore in Indiana that was/is 57 feet in circumference when a storm split the trunk and knocked it over.
    Good luck!

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  11. I was driving through a section of Rouge Park in Detroit and noticed a group of white trees with patchy, scaling bark. Thanks for your in depth explanation.

    Posted by Chae
  12. Ranger Comment :

    Glad to have helped.

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  13. My to sons planted one each on Arbor day over 20 years ago as little saplings and now they are about 50+ tall. Out of all these years I have never seen it shed this much at one time. We had a storm with straight line winds up to 90 mph about six weeks ago and lost some big limbs in the process along with having to cut some off with a chainsaw which I would think it would cause a growing spret. My question is could a sudden spert in growth cause shedding , kind of like buying a 10 year old clothes and they out grow them as fast as you can buy them?

    Posted by Robert21
  14. Ranger Comment :

    I don’t really know whether or not a quick spurt in growth could cause more shedding, but in theory it sounds good.
    Thanks,

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  15. My neighborhood has hundreds of London Planes – my house alone has 3. There has never been shedding like this, all the trees at once. The sidewalks and yards are covered in bark. There must be a weather-related cause to this phenomenon.

    Posted by R Gordon

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

by , Ranger
Greg Dodge is a professional naturalist as well as a writer, videographer and producer of natural history DVDs. His images have been used in various TV productions, museum displays, and corporate videos. Above all, he has a fascination and passion for all things natural.
Stop by and say hello Tuesday thru Saturday in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, or on the Dino Trail.

Bluebird Update 7/29/14

July 30th, 2014
The last active nest is about to be abandoned for the larger world outside (7/29/14).

The last active nest (Amphimeadow) is about to be abandoned for the larger world outside (7/29/14).

With only one active nest remaining in our six nest boxes, I feel confident in saying that there will be no further nest starts this season. The four bluebirds that are currently occupying the nest box at the Amphimeadow in Catch the Wind will most certainly be gone by next week’s inspection of the nest boxes.

Although I am hopeful, and have little doubt, that the birds in the nest box in the Amphimeadow will successfully fledge within the next few days, there are no absolutes in regards to nest success. I will wait until next week to tally the results of the season, what species used the nest boxes and how many birds fledged.

So, wish these last birds luck, and I’ll see you next week.

Join the conversation:

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

by , Ranger
Greg Dodge is a professional naturalist as well as a writer, videographer and producer of natural history DVDs. His images have been used in various TV productions, museum displays, and corporate videos. Above all, he has a fascination and passion for all things natural.
Stop by and say hello Tuesday thru Saturday in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, or on the Dino Trail.

The Mysterious Red Tubular Growth

June 3rd, 2010

The voice on the radio (Animal Department Director, Sherry Samuels) said that there was a cluster of strange, red, tube-like fungi growing out of the ground next to the Lemur House and wondered if I knew what it was.

stinkhorn

One of the many strange growths growing in the leaf litter next to the the Lemur House (approx. 4″ tall).

I said that I didn’t know what it was but would stop by and have a look at them later.

It was a few days before I finally made it to the site and, after having a look at the horn-shaped growths and agreeing that they were obviously some sort of fungus, I still didn’t know exactly what they were.

Some of them were “wilted” and laying on the ground while others appeared fresh, if fungus can be termed as being fresh.

stinkhorn

Some of the growths were obviously gone by while others appeared to be new growth.

I happen to have an identification guide to mushrooms and after a quick browse through the many photos in the book I was able to come up with a match, Elegant Stinkhorn (Mutinus elegans).

The visible “horns” of this stinkhorn are the spore bearing stems. Just below the leaf litter are “eggs” from which the stems “hatch.”

stinkhorn

An egg (fruit body) on the left and a fully emerged horn (stem).

stinkhorn egg

A stem breaking out of its egg.

The eggs, according to my mushroom guide’s author, are edible, “…but not recommended.” I don’t think that I’ll be tempted to try them regardless.

Case closed.

There’s nothing like a good mystery to start off the week!

Six days after the case of the stinkhorns, I came across a more typical member of that strange group of organisms (not animal, not plant) growing under a dogwood near the entrance to the Dinosaur Trail.

parasol mushroom

This tall, lean mushroom (approx. 12″ tall) was growing under a small Flowering Dogwood next to the Parasaurolophus on the Dinosaur Trail.

I’m not certain about the identity of this mushroom, but think that it’s a Parasol Mushroom (Lepiota procera). The height, scaling on the cap, and season (June-October) as well as other features seem right for the species, but I’m not positive. My guide says that in regard to the identity of Parasol Mushrooms ”smell is important and should be noted” but it doesn’t say exactly what that smell should be, only that it’s “slight, not distinctive.” I guess you have to be a connoisseur of mushrooms to understand what that means.

parasol mushroom

The following day the parasol opened. The small ring below the cap, or parasol, is supposed to be movable up and down the stem on this species. I didn’t learn that until after the fact and didn’t try to move it (it looks like it could slide up and down the stem).

I’m not recommending this or any other mushroom be consumed, but according to my guide, Parasol Mushrooms are rated as “excellent” for edibility with a “sweet” in the taste category. Again, I’m not going to eat one of these mushrooms and don’t recommend that you do either, just quoting my guide.

The guide that I used for the identifications of the stinkhorn and parasol (if that’s what it is) is Mushrooms of North America, by Roger Phillips. It’s a large format book and not really suited for work in the field (it won’t fit into your pocket), but it has over a thousand photos and extensive descriptions of the many mushrooms included within its pages.

Happy hunting.

Join the conversation:

  1. How fascinating! And elegant!

    Posted by Erin Brown
  2. Thanks for figuring this out for me and sharing it with everyone Greg.

    Posted by Sherry
  3. Ranger Comment :

    Thanks Erin.
    It is indeed fascinating…all of the little mysteries of nature that are out there waiting to be discovered.

    Posted by Greg Dodge, Ranger
  4. Ranger Comment :

    You’re welcome, Sherry. Thanks for pointing them out to me!

    Posted by Greg Dodge, Ranger
  5. Eureka! I just discovered one of these today along our driveway. Strangely, it’s not a very moist environment, barring the fact that we’ve had a really wet spring. Our stinkhorn was brilliant orange, just like a carrot and there were several bottle flies crawling on it. I snapped a couple photos before it was ultimately destroyed by some construction activity. Thanks so much! I searched “strange tubular fungus” and here you were!!

    Posted by Keri
  6. Ranger Comment :

    Good, glad you were able to figure it out.
    One of our Rangers (Erin) here at the Museum found one last week as well. There was one above ground and another about to “hatch,” but unfortunately, I think it was trampled on. It was right next to one of the trails here with heavy traffic.
    Have a good one,

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  7. I also want to thank you. I found a group of four of these mushrooms in my front yard flower bed and was mustified! I Googled tubulat mushroom and “whaaLaa!” your photos and explanations came up. Must also mention that there is a very heavy mucklike smell that is almost sickening to these mushrooms. Maybe that is where they got their name:Stinkhorn. Dennis Dotson

    Posted by Dennis Dotson
  8. Ranger Comment :

    Thanks for the comments Dennis.
    And yes, the smell is the reason for the stinkhorn part of its name.

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  9. Thank you!! I found a stinkhorn in my back yard and was totally mystified… my son found your blog or I would still be wondering.

    Posted by Gayla Rihaly
  10. Ranger Comment :

    Good, good, glad you found us.
    Thanks,

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  11. I just found a couple of their “eggs” behind the duck yard. They’ve been sitting on my desk the last couple of days waiting for you to come back to work. It started to “hatch” this morning. I remembered you did a post about odd looking smelly red fungus and now I don’t need to save the juicy smelly red things for you to ID. Thanks Greg!

    Posted by Sarah
  12. Ranger Comment :

    Always a pleasure.
    Thanks,

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  13. is the Tubular Red Fungas toxic to dogs if they come in contact wioth it or eat one? How do I get ried of them?

    Posted by cynthia
  14. Ranger Comment :

    I could find no reference stating that this fungus is toxic to dogs. In fact, most references say that it is not toxic and is of little concern to dog owners who worry that their dog will eat the stinkhorns and become ill.
    The fungus with wither, dry up and disappear on its own. It you want to hurry the process and dig it up, go ahead, make sure you get the “eggs” beneath the surface.
    Good luck!!

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  15. I RECENTLY SAW THE “STINK HORN” GROWING IN A RATHER SUNNY PLACE GLAD SOME ONE HAS GIVEN IT A NAME. FEW PEOPLE JUST LAUGHED WHEN i TRIED TO DESCRIBE IT. MINE APPEARED TO BE WET AND IT WAS A DRY AREA. ALSO HAVE LOTS OF EARTH STAR MUSHROOMS around .

    Posted by CAROLYN JONES
  16. Ranger Comment :

    Good, I’m glad you were able to figure out the identity of the stinkhorn.
    They will laugh no more! Well, maybe.
    Thanks,

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  17. i found a stinkhorn in my yard, i was wondering how can I get rid of it?

    Posted by jessy sandel
  18. Ranger Comment :

    You could leave it be and it will eventually go away. Or, you could take a shovel and turn over the dirt where it’s growing. Turn over the dirt several times until the stinkhorn is completely chopped into small pieces, diced.
    Thanks,

    Posted by Greg Dodge

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

Beetles in our Midst

July 28th, 2014

Beetles are insects. They belong to an order of insects called Coleoptera which, translated from the Greek, means sheath wings. Beetles have two pairs of wings, the front of which are, in most species, hardened and serve to cover the hind wings, the flight wings, when not in use. When on foot, most beetles fold their flight wings and store them under the hardened forewings, the elytra.

Beetles constitute about 40% of all insects on the planet with anywhere from 350,000 to 400,000 species, depending upon which source is referenced. The familiar lady bug, lightning bug, and boll weevil are all beetles. They live under water, on and under the ground, burrow into trees, most species can fly, and some of them harvest and consume dung.

They’re a diverse lot. Here’s a very small sampling of photos of beetles that have been seen here at the Museum. The photos are in no particular order.

Bess Beetle or Horned Passalus (Odontotaenius disjunctus).

Bess Beetle or Horned Passalus (Odontotaenius disjunctus). Find them in or on rotting logs, or walking to and from one rotting log to another in spring or early summer.

Delta Flower Scarab (Trigonopeltastes delta). Note triangular mark (Greek letter "delta"). Look for them on flowers.

Delta Flower Scarab (Trigonopeltastes delta). Note triangular mark (Greek letter “delta”). Look for them on flowers.

Virginia Pine Borer, among many other common names (Chalcophora virginiensis). Look for this metallic wood borer on the ground near pines in spring.

Virginia Pine Borer, among many other common names (Chalcophora virginiensis). Look for this large metallic wood borer on the ground near pines in spring.

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cincindela sexguttata). Find them in spring on the ground in wooded areas, hiking trails, roads, etc.

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cincindela sexguttata). Find them in spring on the ground in wooded areas, hiking trails, roads, sidewalks, etc.

Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus). Find them on flowers in late summer to fall.

Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus). Find them on flowers in late summer to fall.

A scarab (Valgus canaliculatus ?). Look for them on spring flowers.

A scarab (Valgus canaliculatus ?). Look for them on spring flowers. Note short elytra.

Rhinoceros Beetle (Xylryctes jamaicensis). Probably best to locate them on ground in areas where lights have been left on all night (like a gas station) in a wooded area.

Rhinoceros Beetle (Xylryctes jamaicensis). Probably best to locate them in the early morning on ground in areas where lights are kept on all night (like a gas station) near a wooded area. Like many insects, they fly to lights.

Pink, or, Twelve-spotted Lady Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata). Search for them in areas where aphids are plenty.

Pink, or Twelve-spotted, Lady Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata). Search for them in areas where aphids are aplenty.

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis). I find them very common on Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa).

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis). Here at the Museum, I find them very common on Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa).

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle spreads its wings, or at least one of them. Not unfolded flight wing on right.

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle spreads its wings, or at least one of them. Note unfolded flight wing on right.

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle larva.

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle larva.

Locust Borer (Megacyllene robiniae). Find these yellow and black patterned beetle on goldenrod late in the season. It helps if your near locust trees.

Locust Borer (Megacyllene robiniae). Find these yellow and black patterned beetles on goldenrod late in the season. It helps if you’re near locust trees.

Flower Longhorned beetle (Typocerus sp.) Look for this and several similarly patterned longhorns on flowers.

Flower Longhorned beetle (Typocerus sp.) Look for this and several similarly patterned longhorns on flowers.

Larger Elm Leaf Beetle (Monocesta coryli). You may have guessed that there is another smaller elm leaf beetle. Look for both the Larger (10-16mm) smaller species near elms.

Larger Elm Leaf Beetle (Monocesta coryli). You may have guessed that there is another elm leaf beetle which is smaller than this one. Look for both the Larger (10-16mm) and smaller species near elms.

Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus). Search for these hefty beetles (40 - 60 mm) near deciduous woodlands with rotting logs on forest floor.

Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus). Search for these hefty beetles (40 – 60 mm) near deciduous woodlands with rotting logs on forest floor.

Golden Tortoise Beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata). If you have morning glory nearby you may see one of these small (5-7 mm) beetles on the plant. They can turn from gold-nugget gold to red in color. Note the transparent elytra.

Golden Tortoise Beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata). If you have morning glory nearby you may see one of these small (5-7 mm) beetles on the plant. They can turn from gold-nugget gold to red in color. Note the transparent elytra. 

Passionflower Flea Beetle (Disonycha discoidea). Poke your finger at this beetle and it's likely to spring into the air, like a flea.

Passionflower Flea Beetle (Disonycha discoidea). Poke your finger at this beetle and it’s likely to spring into the air, like a flea.

False Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta). I was fooled into thinking this a Colorado Potato Beetle by the black and tan stripes on the elytra.

False Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta). I was fooled into thinking this a Colorado Potato Beetle by the black and tan stripes on the elytra.

Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus). Don't let the big "eyes" scare you, it's a smokescreen. Pick this large (about 35 or 40 mm) beetle up and it will play dead, then click and pop into the air, it's a click beetle

Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus). Don’t let the big “eyes” scare you, it’s a smokescreen. Pick this large (about 35 or 40 mm) beetle up and it will play dead, then click and pop into the air, it’s a click beetle.

Dogbane Beetle (Chrysochus auratus). This small beetle's life revolves around dogbane (Apocynum).

Dogbane Beetle (Chrysochus auratus). This small beetle’s life revolves around dogbane (Apocynum).

And there you have it, eighteen species, although two of them are not positively identified. A small sample indeed. There were many other species seen out on our 84 acres that are not shown here. What have you seen?

 

 

Join the conversation:

  1. Of all the “bugs” I am most fascinated with beetles. They are so colorful and diverse in appearance. I’ve photographed some of the beetles you have here. I have an image of a different (pigweed, I believe) beetle on passionflower. One of my favorites is the spotted cucumber beetle, it is so photogenic with it’s shinny colors. Love the tiger beetle also!

    Posted by jpo
  2. Ranger Comment :

    Yes, beetles are pretty neat. We used to have two species of tiger beetles that I saw regularly here at the Museum, six-spotted and eastern red-bellied tiger beetles. I see far fewer six-spotted these days and haven’t seen a red-bellied for several years. They are widespread and common but the road that I used to see them on, which was once clay surfaced and perfect habitat for them, has been graded and covered with gravel.
    Thanks,

    Posted by Greg Dodge

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.