Posts Tagged 'invertebrates'

Sassy!

A venerable sassafras (Sassafras albidum) in Green-Wood. May be the state record holder for tallest: 69′ in 2016. 138″ in diameter at 4.5′ height.
More interestingly, at least to me, is the question of age. Does this pre-date the establishment of the cemetery in 1838? If not it must come close.
Sprouting adjacent. Sassafras is a clonal organism.
You would be correct in your supposition that this magnificent bark is habitat. Just think of all the life forms that have lived upon and beneath it!
I was lucky enough to see this in my orbit of the tree. A piece of bark over a foot long had fallen off and on the inside was this Eumenes wasp mud pot nest.

Stay tuned for more sassafras tomorrow. Yes, more!

Cocoons

Over the weekend I found four large silkworm cocoons. This one was hanging in an oak.
This one was on the ground. I turned it over to see the other side. Coin is just over an inch in diameter. There was an oak overhead….
Another in a willow oak (at perhaps half a mile’s distance from the first oak).
Another, same tree, higher up.

As it happens, this — the tree with the two suspended cocoons — is the same willow oak where I found one of these last year. The tree has at least three cocoons now. I spotted one of them attached to a vine in November.
It has since fallen to the ground, to blend in with the leaf litter in the bulwark of the tree.

Now, I think these are all from the big Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus. Oak is one of their food plants. Falling to the ground seems a normal part of the wintering process. I must look into how the caterpillar manages to wrap leaves around its cocoon.
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“Crime committed brazenly is over time redefined as something other than crime. It is entertainment, and then it is autocracy, and then it is too late.” Sarah Kendzior has been quite good on the Trump organized crime family and its Republican enablers, members, and co-conspirators. Here’s a list of the members of congress who are advancing the crime agenda in the petrie dishes of kleptocracy that are Trump’s properties.

By now you know that the repellent Rudy Giuliani has claimed he works as Trump’s henchman for “free” (a gift unrecorded by Trump, yet another ethics violation) while taking payments from sleaze ball Lev Parnas (indicted and singing like a canary turd), who in turn is paid by a Russian oligarch named Firtash, who, in the Putin-oligarchy, is up to his ears in brute corruption, too.

Phoebe Again

The day after spotting an Eastern Phoebe in Green-Wood, I saw one in Prospect Park.Traditionally, one of the first migratory birds to show up here in the spring. This means they’re not coming from very far away. And as it gets warmer, some of them aren’t even leaving. This one made a dive down to the leaf litter and got something to eat, because it promptly wiped its bill on the branch it landed on. Snicker-snack!

Saw the Green-Wood Phoebe again yesterday. The bird is being very loyal to the Dell and Crescent Waters. There are flies about in temps of the low 40s.

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Steve Pyne is a historian of fire. He calls our age the Pyrocene: a warmer, drier time of larger and more ferocious bushfires feeding off rampant development into areas nobody should live in, plus incredibly wrong-headed fire-management policies (which were developed for the logging and the real estate industries). Here he writes about the current firestorm horrors in Australia as a new paradigm. Here he is warning that the New Jersey Pine Barrens are ripe for a wildfire storm.

Unwrapped

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a large Bald-faced Hornet nest being whipped around by the wind way up a tree overlooking the Dell Water. More recently, I looked up and saw nothing.
A clump of hornet paper stuck on a bush was my first clue. I scanned the ground up the slope with greater care.
Ah-ha! Stripped of the surrounding layers of paper, here were four levels of paper comb.
Remains of larval hornets were scattered about.
Dead worker, dead larva, live fly, and a pretty active ant. Temps were in the 40s.
Looking closely at the paper, you can see the wood fibers that make it up.

These incredible constructions are only built for one season. Only the queen over-winters. The nests rarely survive the winter. This one came crashing down. But this one was collected. Flatbush Gardener removed this one from a neighbor’s shrub, with permission from the neighbor. This was one of the biggest I’ve seen. (Party lighting here, sorry.) Notably in a shrub instead of way up in a tree. I’ve seen them in young street trees, too, barely above eye-level. There are a good number of these nests in Brooklyn, but the hornets themselves are a bit elusive. I mean, they are obviously all over, but you don’t see them everyday.

12th Month Insect

Diptera are the only things out and about now, and just barely. This fly was on the Dead Horse Bay beach the other day.

A gnat landed on my nose yesterday as I walked down the street.

Flies are hard to ID when they are not in hand. Out of a total of 80 iNaturalist Diptera observations, I have 24 identifications that are research grade.

***
The coyotes are coming. In fact, they’re already here. Here being NYC, specifically the Bronx — which is part of the mainland and abuts coyote-rich Westchester Co. — and Queens, which is only connected to America by bridges and tunnels. 45 individual coyotes have been charted in this study of our new neighbors. It’s a certainty they will show up in Brooklyn, which borders Queens. However, this single Kings County iNaturalist observation isn’t very convincing.

I saw one in Woodlawn in the Bronx years ago. It was in the middle of the afternoon. My friends were just waking up from a nap… why yes, they did lay down in the cemetery to nap. The coyote looked at me and I looked at the coyote. On our way, we said “We saw a coyote!” to the gate-keeper. He was very Blasé about, saying they crossed the road from Van Cortlandt Park.

A reputable source still has the best local sighting, however: a berg of ice headed down the Hudson with a coyote on one end and two bald eagles on the other.

Mud Waves

Corrugated tidal flats, a rippled landscape.
Some water is still trapped yards from the lowtide front. Somebody’s in there.
These sandy spaghetti-like strands are casings, thrown out of wormholes in the sand.
While we’re on the subject of worms, these are another kind of worm that build tunnels on shells (in this case a big Hardshell Clam.)

11th Month Insecta

There are still a few insects in the cold.
On Friday, this wasp, bumble bee, and fly were active. There were other flies about, and other impossible-to-photograph diptera, and a lovely leaf-hopper or two.
Some kind of gall on a crab apple. Exit hole visible.
Remember last January when I found a large cocoon that I thought belonged to a Polyphemus moth? On Friday, at the same willow oak, I found another.

Paper wasp paper.
Saturday was much colder, but this Fall Armyworm was on the march.
Also on that cold and blustery Saturday, we found three different harvestmen, each one on lichen or moss. Of course, we were looking at lichen and moss, so…


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