Set against a brilliant clear blue sky, two tall maple trees show off their fall finery.
Friday, November 18, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
If you have ever heard of a green lacewing of the Chrysopidae family, you might know that its larva interestingly camouflages itself with lichen. Every green lacewing larva I have seen has a dust lichen called Lepraria finkii adhered to its back. It sticks the lichen to hair-like setae on its body so it can hide under a blanket of lichen. Perhaps to hide from prey that it can grab with its large mandibles. This fall, try searching trees for these critters by walking up to the trunks and watching for little moving lichen balls. If you touch the lichen ball, they will walk away from you.
|This camouflaged lacewing larva shows mandibles sticking out on the left, legs out the bottom. Lepraria finkii covering its back.|
This fall, during one of our local school field classes, some 4th grade students and their teacher from West Union Elementary hit the jackpot. The students were instructed to explore food chains within a leaf litter sample. Each group sorted through the animals found in their leaf piles. From this search, a little mysterious critter was found that appeared to be a moving heap of debris. The teacher brought it to Robyn Wright-Strauss who was leading the class to identify the curious animal. Robyn brought it back to the lab knowing this was a very unique find. It was the debris carrying lacewing larva.
|Lacewing larva carrying snail shells, insect parts and spider parts on it back.|
|The larger snail shell on its back is 2.5 mm and was very difficult to pull off. Its adhesion is quite impressive.|
|A pile of debris makes a great place to hide.|
Posted by: Mark Zloba
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
You may have noticed that this is the noisiest time of year in the great outdoors. During the day, cicadas, crickets and meadow katydid's dominate your ears while you stand outside, and during the night, other katydids and crickets take over. I think it is fun to try to identify as many of these singing insects by their song since most songs are unique to the individual "singing". The singing is really a stridulation, or rubbing of one body part against another to create the sound. Depending on the size and shape of the scrapers rubbing together, and the speed of which they are rubbed, a different sound is produced. Here's an example of one common sound produced by the Common Meadow Katydid, Orchelimum vulgare. If you click this video below, you should hear a shuffling and ticking sound that sounds like a yard sprinkler. This is the meadow katydid song.
A few years back, we were lucky enough to have Wil Hershberger visit the preserve and teach us how to recognize the subtle and sometimes not so subtle differences in insect song. Wil is the co-author of The Songs of Insects, a great book, now a website, that introduces people to and informs us about these common sounds we all hear, but few of us recognize. This post is not so much about all the different songs some of these insects make ( to see and hear that, you might as well visit his website http://songsofinsects.com/ for his wonderful recordings and pictures) but rather a fun discovery made while Wil was teaching a class for us.
During the class, some great photographer's and friend's of the preserve, David and Laura Hughes, and Jim McCormac took picture's of a katydid. They showed the picture to Wil, and explained the song. Wil knew that the katydid in the pictures did not match the song they were hearing. Therefore, did not recognize the katydid in their pictures. This was odd because Wil had traveled all over the U.S. photographing and recording singing insects and knew what should be singing in southern Ohio. The song sounded of the common virtuoso katydid, Amblycorypha longinicta. But the katydid in the photographs did not look like a common virtuoso katydid because it lacked brown hind tibias. This unknown katydid in the picture had hind leg tibia's which were green. Below is a picture of the Common virtuoso, and this unknown virtuoso with differing leg color.
|Common virtuoso katydid, notice the brown hind tibia or last segment of the hind leg.|
|Unknown virtuoso katydid, notice the green hind tibia's.|
So what is it? Last summer, Wil and I spent a week driving around at night searching and listening for this new katydid song to see how many of these unknown species there were, and where else do they live. We found many locations of this new katydid, and made a map of it's range, which was very small, only finding them in the southern Ohio Brush Creek valley (see below). We even went across the Ohio river into Kentucky, where as a katydid flies, wouldn't have been too far away from the original location of discovery. We didn't hear any of them. Specimens were collected, sent off for DNA and some kept for recording and measuring. It may take some time to figure out what they are.
|GREEN=YES unknown virtuosos/RED=NO unknown virtuosos/ORANGE=only common virtuosos|
Listen to the video below and first, see if you can hear the song when the video displays "SINGING NOW". If you don't hear it.....Sorry to say you may have lost that high pitch sound in your ears. I purposefully made a recording of these unknown katydid's singing in the wild with other night sounds around, because that is what you might hear if you go out and listen. The katydid in questions song sounds like a high pitched shuffle followed by a "pen spring" purr. If I had to spell it out, it would be "chickachickachickachickachicka purrrrr", then a few seconds break in between. Click below.
Now the Common virtuoso katydid, which is found throughout Ohio, but can be very local, is not as common as the name implies. But its song is very similar. The difference being, it does the shuffle, or chickachicka once, then follows with many purr's or pen spring flicks. Listen to the video below to hear the difference.
If any of these songs are hard to hear, you can hear much clearer and louder versions, including many other species on Wil's website listed above. And to read more about the discovery of this new katydid species, check out Wil's page http://songsofinsects.com/katydids/unknown-amblycorypha, for much more details.
The goal here is to find more of these unknown katydids near Adams County, Ohio, or anywhere. So if you think you have a virtuoso katydid that shuffles every time before it purr's, try to get a recording (cell phone recording's might work if you are close to it), or try to get your eyes on the critter and see if it's hind legs are entirely green. If so, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Through DNA, we hope to soon know what this species is and if it is new to science. So keep your ears open at night and listen for virtuoso katydids and you can help us solve this katydid mystery.
Posted by: Mark Zloba
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
If there is one species of butterfly that gets the lepidotera-philes scales to stand up on end, it’s the juniper hairstreak, Callophrys g. gryneus. When I run into folks on the Edge that are seeking out butterfly species, the juniper hairstreak is always on the top of the list. And usually, it is a butterfly that is seen uncommonly. In fact, I usually see this small butterfly only a handful of times each year. But the last 2 years, I have been observing a plant called rattlesnake master, Eryngium yuccifolium, growing along the sidewalk to the Eulett Center, and have been amazed at the species diversity that feeds/visits this plant, one of which is the juniper hairstreak. I would say this plant is mis-named as I have never seen a rattlesnake around the plant, but it sure attracts hairstreaks. Now granted, the Eulett Center is surrounded by numerous Eastern red cedar trees, Juniperus virginiana, the host plant of the juniper hairstreak’s caterpillar, but the numbers of juniper hairstreak's this year has been phenomenal.
|Juniper hairstreak on rattlesnake master, avoiding the white-banded crab spider, Misumenoides formosipes on the left.|
|Numerous juniper hairstreaks on rattlesnake master|
|Notice the green scales on the wings of our only "green" butterfly.|
This plant is incredibly fun to watch blooming in July to see how many flies, wasps, beetles, spiders, moths, bees etc. land on its many flowers. Below are some interesting species seen visiting rattlesnake master.
|Great black wasp, Sphex pennsylvanicus|
|Black and yellow lichen moth, Lycomorpha pholus|
|Juniper hairstreak near striped lynx spider, Oxyopes salticus|
|Spotted thyris moth, Thyris maculata|
|Myzinum wasp, Myzinum sp.|
|A potter wasp, Monobia quadridens|
|A paper wasp, Polistes exclamans|
Posted by: Mark Zloba
Thursday, July 21, 2016
|Hexalectris spicata Crested coral-root|
Crested coral-root (Hexalectris spicata) is an orchid species listed as potentially threatened in Ohio according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources rare plants of Ohio list. You can find the list here http://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/rareplants While it is rare for Ohio, and generally uncommon within the preserve, it can often be found along the trails in the Lynx prairie system. Within the Edge preserve, the species is generally found in dry woods and wooded edges adjacent to prairie openings. It is often found scattered as a few flowering stems but has been recorded in clumps of 50 or more flowering stems. Hexalectris spicata is a somewhat fleshy, perennial herb that, except for the flowering stem, is subterranean (it lives entirely underground). The flowering stem is glabrous, has no leaves, no chlorophyll, and the plant has no roots. Crested coral-root is a fully myco-heterotrophic plant, a life long epiparasite, that obtains resources through a mycorrhizal relationship with a fungus.
|A close up view of a flower showing the purple crests on the lower lip of the flower.|
The common name "Crested coral-root" refers to the 5 - 7, usually purple, crests found on the floral lip. The brightly colored flowers would suggest that this plant is looking to attract a pollinator but little to nothing is known about what species might be visiting the flowers.
Crested coral root occurs in many of the areas that the Edge of Appalachia preserve manages with the use of prescribed fire. We have observed that the plant often responds with numerous flowering stems after the application of prescribed fire. Crested coral-root typically flowers in mid July through August.
|Tall larkspur Delphinium exhaltatum|
Tall Larkspur Delphinium exhaltatum is another plant listed as potentially threatened in Ohio. Tall larkspur is another uncommon species within the Edge but can be locally common where it occurs. It is found along wooded edges, in old field and prairie openings and occasionally roadside in southern portions of the preserve.
|Typical Tall larkspur flowers.|
As the name of the plant suggests, Tall larkspur can reach heights of 6 feet tall when flowering and has a long raceme of up to 30 blue to purple flowers. Like most other Delphinium species, every part of the plant is poisonous especially the seeds. Tall larkspur typically flowers beginning in late June into late August / early September and are pollinated predominantly by hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insects. Tall larkspur is another species of native plant that benefits from the application of prescribed fire.
As with many other wildflowers, white forms can occur. These two plants were found growing side by side near a field of the dark purple ones.
The Edge of Appalachia Preserve has in excess of 85 plant species that are considered rare, which is one of the largest concentrations of rare species in the state.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
|Chuck-will's-widow on eggs.|
|Amazing camouflage of a Chuck-will's-widow on the ground.|
|Typical "nest" and 2 eggs of chuck-will's-widows. (Photo by Rich McCarty)|
|Never wanting to disturb the chuck on its eggs, photos can be taken through a scope from a safe distance.|
|Roosting near the barrens during the day, if you're lucky, you might find one sitting on a tree. Can you see the bird in the middle of the picture? (Photo by Rich McCarty)|
Posted by: Mark Zloba
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
I took the opportunity to visit a tract that we recently acquired, as a part of the EOA Preserve, in an attempt to locate some of the seldom seen reptiles of the Edge. The weather has been cool and damp so I expected that these guys might be holed up under some cover, waiting for some sunshine and warm temperatures to get their systems going. While the day was overcast with sometimes steady rain and temperatures in the 50's, I discovered several species content to provide a photo opportunity.
|Ring-necked snake, Diadophis punctatus|
|Red-bellied snake, Storeria occipitomaculata|
|Eastern Wormsnake, Carphophis amoenus|
|Eastern Milksnake, Lampropeltis triangulum|
|North American or Black Racer, Coluber constrictor|
|Northern Copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix|
Searching for reptiles can be challenging, even in "good" weather, finding this many species in these cool conditions was pretty satisfying. We are still searching for a Timber Rattlesnake within the bounds of the Edge preserve. We will keep searching for and discovering what we have protected within the Edge of Appalachia Preserve.
Posted by: Rich McCarty
Posted by Edge of Appalachia Preserve at 2:24 PM