Entries organized under Insects

Signs of Spring!

March 12, 2016

Contributed by HarryNicolas Graybear

We took advantage of a perfectly beautiful day to walk up our mountain to check on the progress of Spring.

One mission of our walk was to find the first wildflower of the season. We didn’t find it… yet. But… There are lots of tiny little plants peaking out through the leaf litter of the forest floor.

The coolest things we found were in or next to water.  In the next hollow over from ours, someone long ago built a little pond fairly high on the mountainside to catch water from a nice little stream coming off the mountain. After the water settles in the pond for a while, it leaves and tumbles down the slope, joining other streams, which join other streams, which join a river. All that water eventually finds its way to the Gulf of Mexico. (We are on the western side of the Eastern Continental Divide.)

We did find two other evidences of Spring.

frog egg mass

Think a deep-throated “Charump!” Or maybe it should be a higher pitched “Ribbet!”

Right! We saw some frogs swimming and jumping in the pond. They hid from us under the leaves and mud, so we could not identify them. (You would hide, too, if you saw something 100 times bigger than you coming towards your home!) But they left a huge mass of something that tells us they are there even if we had not seen them jump and swim.

Can you tell what is in the picture?

Of course!  Frog eggs!  You can see the big embryo in each transparent egg.  In a short time, we should be able to see a tiny tadpole wiggling in each egg.  This pond will be FULL of tadpoles soon!  If we had sat down and been very still and quiet, I bet the frogs would have come up and sang for us.

The other thing we saw, while not rare, is seldom noticed and recognized:


This plant that looks like lizard skin is a ‘liverwort’ (a bryophyte).  It is a ‘lower plant’, more primitive than ferns and mosses (some of which you can see poking out between the thallus (not a leaf or stem, but a ‘body’) of the liverwort. This plant has no stem, leaves, flowers, seeds or ‘veins’. Instead of seeds it has spores.

This primitive liverwort should not be confused with the spring wildflower liverwort (Hepatica), which will bloom in about a month.

We found one more thing near this liverwort and moss.

Do you recognize these?


I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure they are little insect cocoons. They could be insect eggs, but I don’t think so. IN either case, they have been here all winter waiting for warm weather to arrive so they can emerge.

Even though it may still be cool where you live, go out and see what ‘signs of spring’ you can find.

Magic in the Field

January 16, 2016

Contributed by Deb

Harry and I were out walking the field shown in the background of the picture yesterday and we found some magic.  We found these six all within about 20 feet of each other.  We found another six further on our ramble.  There are probably lots more out there!


Do you know what they are?  We do and we know they are very special.

Why don’t you guess first before I tell you.  Is it part of the plant?  Is it someone’s house?  Is it healthy or a disease on the plant?  Is it a bug?  Hmmmmmm… still don’t know?

I’ll give you a hint:  In the summer, you may see what made them, but they hide very well.

Need another clue?  They are long and usually green.

Here’s another clue:  they have BIG eyes and long arms.

Okay, one more:  The six things in the picture contain lots of eggs during winter.  In spring, when it warms up, they will hatch and the babies will chew their way out.

These are praying mantis egg cases that momma praying mantises made last fall!  Here’s a picture of one of the babies on one of our collecting baskets:

praying mantis

Did you know?

We will take a couple of the egg cases and put them near our garden and the rest we will return to the field… I just wanted to show you.

Sunshine and raspberries to you!