I went for a brief walk in the Arboretum today. After a couple of nights where the temperature had dropped below freezing, this afternoon was bright and sunny, hitting 60 degrees. A breeze over the meadow carried with it countless cottony seeds.
Tag Archives: Arnold Arboretum
The sun and its warmth made for a very pleasant bird walk this morning at the Arnold Arboretum. Most of the birds we saw were along Willow Path or near the ponds. Every species except one can be found the entire year in our area.
The only exception, white-throated sparrows, moves north to breed during the summer.
On Friday, I ran across a bug that looked like a red, green, and yellow shrimp. Resting on a witch hazel leaf with its posterior and head held high, this insect reminded me of a katydid nymph. v belov on BugGuide identified it as the nymph of a pale green assassin bug (Zelus luridus).
I found a stink bug nymph in the Arboretum this morning. It is probably an instar of the green stink bug (Chinavia hilaris), although it lacks the orange shoulder pads that I see in every other photo of green stink bug nymphs.
I learned on Saturday’s bird walk that American robins love the fruit of Amur cork trees (Phellodendron amurense). I returned to see if I could photograph the birds eating the fruit. I had plenty of opportunity to do so.
We went on an early morning bird walk yesterday led by Bob Mayer and Andrew Joslin. We saw a number of bird species. Two were a first for me, and one a first in the Boston area.
On Wednesday, I heard something rustling in the grass near the Arboretum’s hickory collection. Turned out to be this garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), a skinny fellow who was quite afraid of me.
As I left the Arboretum’s visitor center on Sunday, I noticed a crowd gathered around a shrub. It took me a second to see the shockingly large Chinese mantid (Tenodera aridifolia) that was the subject of everyone’s attention.
This praying mantis was larger than my hand. It had landed on someone’s leg and she had the peace of mind to place it on the shrub, where it stood still for many minutes.
The Chinese mantid is the largest of our praying mantises. Introduced from China in 1896 to control pests, they eat both harmful and beneficial insects, and sometimes each other. They are so large that they are able to attack hummingbirds.
Take a look at this face. It means business.
I saw a few moths, butterflies, and wasps at the Arboretum last week. An eastern comma butterfly (Polygonia comma) rested on a leaf in the shrub and vine garden. It is named for the bright white comma, swollen at both ends, on its wing. I think it looks more like a crescent moon than a comma.
The wings look drab until they open, revealing a rich orange with black spots. This is the winter form of this butterfly, with its hind wings more orange than black.
A bittersweet vine (Celastrus sp.) twists around a tree trunk in the Arboretum with tiny black creatures crawling on it. I believe these are black bean aphids (Aphis fabae). These aphids are sucking the sap out of the vine. While they prefer eating from the bounty of the bean family, they are known to attack bittersweet.
Like other aphids, they produce a sweet waste product called honeydew. Ants are attracted to the honeydew and collect it, tending aphids as we do cows. In the photo below, a black carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) watches over a black bean aphid, waiting for its sugary treat.