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Posts About natural history

The Search for Missing Lady Beetles

Most lady beetles, also called ladybugs, feed on small, soft-bodied insects, including aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects, many of which can cause a lot of damage to garden plants and native flora if their populations grow too large. Lady beetles can smell compounds released by stressed plants and aphids, allowing them to locate their prey in the landscape. Learn more about these important species and how you can participate in the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas here.

Still Time to Contribute to the Vermont Giant Silk Moth Cocoon Watch!

It has already been a great success. And there’s still more than two weeks left for you to contribute! Since the beginning of November, observers like you have been searching for these large cocoons and sharing with our project on iNaturalist. We’ve now tallied over 60 observations of four out of five Vermont species!

Mast and Mammals

Finding acorns, beech nuts and cones in the forest is easier in some years than others. Tree masting events or the synchronous fruit production across large areas, is a phenomenon caused at least in part by summer temperatures. When nuts and cones are plentiful, many small mammals take full advantage of the bounty. iNaturalist reports are starting to yield insights into these important cycles.

Vermont Lady Beetle BioBlitz (and more!)

Did you know there are over 400 native ladybug (aka lady beetle) species in North America or that there are 35 native species (at least) in the state of Vermont? Unfortunately, native lady beetles are in decline across North America and in Vermont. In fact, 12 of our native species have not been seen in Vermont in over 40 years! Join us in our search for lost ladybugs.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease May Threaten Vermont’s Rabbits and Hares

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says a disease affecting rabbits and hares previously found in western states may be moving eastward.  Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) is a virus known to be extremely lethal to wild and domestic rabbits, including cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares.  

Vermont Town Birding Challenge

Vermont’s 251 towns offer up a vast array of habitats and birdlife. Recently, Vermont birder Bob Heitzman accomplished his goal of birding in each of Vermont’s 251 towns, a monumental achievement! Learn how focusing your birding efforts at the town level can be rewarding in so many different ways.

A Giant Leap Northward for a Butterfly

It’s hard to miss a giant. In 2010 when the largest butterfly in North America fluttered among Ardys Fisher’s flowers at the end of July, she knew it was something neat. Now, our study published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution this week shows an unusually rapid northward range shift by the Eastern Giant Swallowtail over the last two decades.

Tall Beech Fern (Phegopteris excelsior): Newly discovered fern species in Vermont

Tall Beech Fern (Phegopteris excelsior) was recently described as a new species. Tall Beech Fern was originally thought to be a hybrid of Long Beech Fern (P. connectilis) and Broad Beech Fern (P. hexagonoptera). Further analysis proved that Tall Beech Fern is of hybrid descent, but not from a hybridization event between Long and Broad Beech Ferns. Given the number of differences between Tall Beech Fern and the species it is most closely related to—Long Beech Fern—Tall Beech Fern was described as a new species.

American Redstart Photo Credit: Julia Pupko

Lunchtime Learning

Join Community Science Outreach Naturalist Julia Pupko every Wednesday at noon for an hour of iNaturalist, Vermont eBird, and eButterfly help, with some Vermont natural history topics on the side!

It’s Not Just You, There Actually Are A Lot More Chipmunks Out There

If you’ve been spending any time hiking this summer, walking through the woods or even just driving along Vermont roads, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking: Are there chipmunks, like, everywhere this year? We turn to a small mammal biologist for answers. It’s been a good year for chipmunks in the northeastern U.S. A really good year.