On March 23, 2018 Mark Bessette surprised the Vermont iNaturalist community. Mark had snapped some photographs of an unusual-looking bird that he dubbed, “Elvis, the juvenile bald eagle.” The bird appeared to have a black wig that reminded Mark of the “King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley. The iNaturalist community was quick to weigh in on the real identity of this bird. To seasoned birders, it easily stood out as a misplaced Crested Caracara.
State Agriculture and Health officials announced that the Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) has been identified for the first time in Vermont. This normally tropical/subtropical species is a known disease vector for Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses, infecting humans in countries where these diseases are present. The mosquitoes found in Vermont do not currently carry these viruses.
Over 1,475 biologists and naturalists have contributed more than 51,000 moth photo-observations to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Together, we’ve discovered over 100 new species for Vermont, and iNaturalists have done it again. two species new to Vermont were discovered and one species that was only known from a historical record was rediscovered.
You don’t have to go far to help the Vermont Atlas of Life discover species new to Vermont. You just have to be observant. On August 12th Roy Pilcher, citizen scientist extraordinaire and recipient of the Julie Nicholson Citizen Science Award in 2009, found one in his car!
On June 10th Jasper Barnes, a wildlife biology student at the University of Vermont, snapped a photo of a tiny jumping spider near campus and shared it to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. It soon became recognized as the first record of this species for Vermont and the northernmost United States.
This summer, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies has spearheaded the Vermont Wild Bee Survey in Chittenden County. According to project coordinator Spencer Hardy, more than 320 species have been documented thus far — and nearly a dozen appear to be species of wild bees that were previously unknown to be in the state.
Last observed in Vermont in 1997, the climbing fern has been spotted again growing in the Northeast Kingdom, according to Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s botanist Bob Popp.
Congratulations, Vermont. You’ve got a new damselfly. Here’s a tale about a bluet that’s defies the “blue” in its name. It becomes Vermont’s 45th known damselfly species.
The first Vermont specimen of the large European hornet was found in the southern part of the state and identified last month by the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. The department says it’s possible the species has been here for a while and only just now been identified.
An endangered fish was hooked recently in the Connecticut River near Vernon. National Marine Fisheries Services Endangered Species Coordinator Julie Crocker says it was the first time a shortnose sturgeon was caught upstream from the Turners Falls Dam in Massachusetts. Crocker says there are shortnose sturgeon farther south in the river, and at this point scientists do not know how the fish got into Vermont.