view counter

Creature Feature

Their night flights bring us treats, not tricks

Winging its way through the eerie gloom, the bat is a potent symbol of Halloween. Far from its menacing reputation in seasonal lore, bats’ contributions to the natural world are many and essential.     In tropical and desert ecosystems, bats serve as pollinators for plants such as bananas, mangoes and the agave plant used to make tequila.

It takes a lot of preying to make so big a bug

In summer’s abundance, praying mantises grow like corn.     Emerging in spring warmth from their tan, papery egg masses, they are tiny, pale-green nymphs. By autumn, after several exoskeleton sheddings and many good meals, the tan, winged adults can be six or seven inches long.

Reluctant osprey still have several weeks to enjoy Chesapeake fishing

“The osprey’s back again this morning,” wrote Ron Wolfe in early October. “This one, sometimes accompanied by another, apparently failed to receive the fall migration memo,” Wolfe, a fisherman, added. “I suspect it’s part of this year’s hatch and doesn’t want to leave the only home it knows.”     Not to worry, advises Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Dave Brinker. “Birds are like people,” Brinker told Bay Weekly. “Some leave early, some leave late.

So far, it’s just a surmise

Could it be pilot whales?         What was Clara Gouin’s surmise as she made quick assessment of the marine pod swimming beneath the Chesapeake Bay Bridge just as she and Bay Gardener Dr. Francis Gouin crossed by truck above.

Like tea-party guests, they’ve visited before, will they be back?

I.    Our first fox comes between red sun and night, his ruff tinged rust with leftover glow. He must know dusk is his color, his hour, as he comes for the mice, moles and voles who scurry through tunnels which lace our lawn in subterranean webs. I’d like to think he thinks he does us a favor policing our scruffy yard.

Beauty of the sky a beast in the water

Dragonflies zoom and hover in the August air.     These acrobatic fliers older than dinosaurs have populated the earth for more than 300 million years. They spend just a few months performing aerial feats of wonder after emerging from an underwater childhood lasting as long as four years.

Summer sends these insects singing

Heat wave temperatures may not have us humans singing for the joy of life, but that’s not the case for several insect species that voice their appreciation of the heat this time of year.

Readers shared their stories — and pictures — of animal companionship. The stories are wonderful; they'll bring tears to your eyes and laughter to your heart and lips.

           

Just passing through

A big mother of a terrapin the size of our cast-iron frying pan lumbers from the swamp beyond the small garage, up the stones and through the poison ivy and, without stretching her long neck for a glance backward over her carapace, heads non-stop across our lawn toward the far woods to lay her eggs.     She is my first sighting of this summer, already August, and in recent years all turtles have been scarce.

Turn on a light to observe National Moth Week

In the midst of National Moth Week, turn on your porch light any summer night and see who you see.     Summer because moths get their wings in warm weather. Over winter, they are caterpillars. In spring they pupate, emerging winged from their cocoons to create new generations of moths.     Night because drawn to light in perhaps some moonstruck phenomenon, most moths are nocturnal.