Sunday, February 21, 2010

Berries, Blossoms, and Bugs

The thermometer has reached the mid-forties during the past few days, triggering a series of changes in the woods. The birds have been more active. A group of robins has showed up, eating whatever berries and food they can find. Pileated Woodpeckers have become a daily sight--flashes of black and white flying from tree to tree.

On the ground, the first flowers of springs are popping through the damp ground. Skunk Cabbage flowers have emerged, attracting flies from the warm air.

Moss is now turning away from its brownish winter colors. The vibrant hues alert any passerby to its presence.

Looking closely at almost any damp, rotten log in the woods reveals a multitude of insects. Springtails, tiny bluish bugs, cover any surface they can find, feeding off of fungus.

Nearby, in the snow, small black dots, each a springtail, can be seen hopping. These springtails belong to the genus Hypogastrura. Under magnification, they resemble space aliens.

Hypogastrura sp.
Springtails, like these Hypogastrura, are a common sight on warm winter days.

Hypogastrura nivicola
Hypogastrura nivicola

More insects rest on the snow, stopping only briefly before flying away.

This stonefly, Allocapnia recta, is one of the earliest stoneflies
to emerge in the late winter/spring season

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