Indian Pipe flower – a rare sighting

On the ground, I noticed a translucent stem with a pinkish tinge, black flecks, and drooping, waxlike petals. It resembled the potato I’d grown in darkness, part of a fourth-grade science experiment. I thought it might be a sucker emerging from a nearby tree root, but took a photo just in case. The lighting conditionsContinue reading “Indian Pipe flower – a rare sighting”

European Paper Wasp cooperative with nestmates and neighbors

While hiking, I noticed a wasp with striking bands of yellow and black. It ignored me as I filmed, enraptured by the blossoms of White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), a poisonous plant native to the eastern United States. The insect was a European Paper Wasp (Polistes dominula), a species introduced into Boston in the 1970s. UnlikeContinue reading “European Paper Wasp cooperative with nestmates and neighbors”

Screams in the garden: Encounter with an Eastern Black Racer

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is known for its large garden and ancient oak trees. As I walked the roadside edging the garden, I heard a scream. I stopped and listened. Silence, then the screaming resumed. And this time it didn’t stop. I was alone in the park and, as I ran to the sound,Continue reading “Screams in the garden: Encounter with an Eastern Black Racer”

A decorated cocoon and the bagworm moth

I’ve learned that wooden fences attract small animals, particularly on warm days. Today, a row of interesting cocoons was seen hanging beneath an uppermost rail. So I snapped a shot for identification. But discovering the maker of this cocoon wasn’t that easy. Internet sources seemed to agree that it belonged to a bagworm-moth larva; butContinue reading “A decorated cocoon and the bagworm moth”

Photos from the Butterfly Rainforest

The photos below were taken during a visit to the Butterfly Rainforest, a year-round exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History (Gainesville, FL). The best time to photograph the butterflies is in the morning, when the natural lighting is soft and the butterflies are warming up for daytime flight. Once the sun is directlyContinue reading “Photos from the Butterfly Rainforest”

Roaches on the beach?

It was cold, windy, and overcast along the shore, with forecasters warning of an approaching Nor’easter. I saw a line of pelicans, a single Ruddy Turnstone, a single Sanderling, and a handful of people. But there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Sea Slaters (Ligeria exotica). I’ve glimpsed a single Sea Slater from time to time,Continue reading “Roaches on the beach?”

Footage of another mellow Florida wasp

There’s no need to fear the Common Thread-waisted Wasp (Eremnophila aureonotata), since it rarely stings. I recently filmed a mating pair and the foraging female during a visit to San Felasco Hammock Preserve in Gainesville, Florida. After mating, the female digs a burrow, and then searches for a caterpillar to place inside. She then paralyzesContinue reading “Footage of another mellow Florida wasp”

A pulsating sack held a surprise

I was photographing life around a decaying stump, capturing mushrooms, young fence lizards, and a baby toad about a half-inch long. But then I noticed a four-inch, orange sack. And it was pulsing. It was too large to be an egg. What was moving inside? As I filmed, something made a slit through the shiftingContinue reading “A pulsating sack held a surprise”

How dangerous is a Pygmy Rattlesnake?

Something wriggled next to my foot, as I stooped at a decaying stump and photographed a beetle. As it unfolded and slithered past my leg, I gazed in appreciation. Then, it’s pattern suddenly registered! I stepped back, realizing it was a Pygmy Rattlesnake, a venomous snake common throughout the southeastern United States. It’s a smallContinue reading “How dangerous is a Pygmy Rattlesnake?”

Lucky daytime spotting of the Horned Fungus Beetle

Alone on a swampy trail, I noticed a half-inch beetle feeding on a mushroom. It was gray and bumpy, resembling tree bark. I was lucky to sight the Horned Fungus Beetle (Bolitotherus cornutus), since it’s active at night. This particular morning was overcast and the lighting was dim, which led this individual to indulge inContinue reading “Lucky daytime spotting of the Horned Fungus Beetle”