It’s spring! The days have been getting noticeably longer. The birds are starting to sing in the mornings. The spring ephemeral wildflowers are starting to bloom. Spring tree top flasher firefly larvae are on the tulip poplar trunks. The first butterflies of the year are coming out. And the phoebes are bouncing between their two favorite nesting spots on my front porch, apparently trying to decide which to nest at this year. I always enjoy this time of year, because there is so much happening.
Below are a few of the nature-related discoveries I’ve made in my yard and community over the last couple of months. The discoveries I share below don’t even begin to capture all the different observations I’ve made – I can’t always get pictures of everything I see. So, what interesting nature-related discoveries have you made in your yard and community over the last few weeks? I always enjoy hearing what others are finding too.
Look at all the woodpecker holes on this sassafras! Based on the size and shape of the holes, most of these were likely made by our resident pileated woodpeckers. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved
The vernal pools are full and very active. The wood frogs and earliest salamanders have already bred and laid eggs. At least in my area, the wood frog eggs have also already hatched. However, the vernal pools still have all kinds of life in them including tadpoles, salamander larvae, fairy shrimp, newts, water beetles, and much more. We don’t have any vernal pools on our property, but I know where some are not too far from us and I always enjoy checking them out in the late winter and early spring. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved
Spring tree top flashers are one of our earliest firefly species to start flashing. Like their name suggests, they’ll be up in the trees when they start their displays. We still have a bit before they will start flashing, but the larvae can be found on the tulip poplar tree trunks once the temperatures start climbing into the upper 50s or low 60s. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved
While on a recent hike, I found this acorn with a hole in it. The hole shows that this summer the acorn was the home of an acorn weevil larva. Acorn weevils are a type of insect that lays its eggs in acorns. The larva feeds and develops inside the acorn throughout the summer and early fall. In late fall or early winter, after the acorn has fallen to the ground, the larva chews its way out of the acorn and burrows into the ground. It’ll continue to develop underground for another year or two before emerging as an adult weevil. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved
As the weather warms up, the turtles are starting to move again. We have a farm pond, most of our neighbors have farm ponds, and we have a creek in our front yard, so it isn’t uncommon for turtles to walk through our yard. Recently, this slider came for a visit. I was happy just to see the turtle, and then I saw something even more interesting than the turtle. There was a leech on its shell!! This was the first time I’ve seen a leech on a turtle’s shell. It wasn’t feeding – just kind of balled up and along for the ride. Photo credits: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved
Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at www.backyardecology.net.