Thursday, June 13, 2019

What is it Wednesday: June 12, 2019




Can you identify what's in this photo?


Each Wednesday morning 
on Camp Lutherlyn's Facebook page
 the Lutherlyn Environmental Education Program posts a photo. 


Readers have all morning and afternoon 
to make their best guess about what the photo is. 

Around 6 pm LEEP provides the answer and a brief explanation.


Each week's What is it Wednesday post 
will also be posted on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
 after it is posted on Facebook,
sometimes with additional bonus information. 

In addition to bringing you current editions of What is it Wednesday 
on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
we will be reposting old editions,
creating a What is it Wednesday archive. 

This photo was posted as a What is it Wednesday on. 
 June 12, 2019. 


And the answer is....



Sometimes we post a What is it Wednesday picture of something that also made us say “What is it?!” This is one of those instances. 

This strange creature, about an inch and a half long, was found swimming in the garden pond at Terra Dei. With a little poking around in field guides and online we were able to determine that it is the larva of a diving beetle.


While we don’t see the larva often, diving beetles are very common in ponds and other slow-moving water. Diving beetles act like scuba-divers – at the surface of the water they attach a bubble of air to the underside of their abdomens, then breathe from that bubble of air while swimming underwater. There are many species, of various sizes and color patterns. 

Diving beetles live in the water as both larvae and adults, but because they can also fly, they can migrate from one body of water to another.

At LEEP we love continuing to learn! For more about how LEEP can help you continue to learn about the world of nature around us, through summer camp, school field trips, Saturday safaris, and more, check out www.lutherlyn.com/ee



Like and follow Camp Lutherlyn on Facebook, to see What is it Wednesday posts when they come out and have the opportunity to share your guesses in the comments!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

What is it Wednesday: June 5, 2019




Can you identify what's in this photo?


Each Wednesday morning 
on Camp Lutherlyn's Facebook page
 the Lutherlyn Environmental Education Program posts a photo. 


Readers have all morning and afternoon 
to make their best guess about what the photo is. 

Around 6 pm LEEP provides the answer and a brief explanation.


Each week's What is it Wednesday post 
will also be posted on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
 after it is posted on Facebook,
sometimes with additional bonus information. 

In addition to bringing you current editions of What is it Wednesday 
on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
we will be reposting old editions,
creating a What is it Wednesday archive. 

This photo was posted as a What is it Wednesday on
June 5, 2019. 



And the answer is....


The large leaves in the center of this photo are common plantain, also called broad-leaved plantain.

 This plantain is different than the banana-like plantains found in the grocery store – it is a common plant found in yards and other open areas. It is one of the many plants we feature on “Edible Hikes,” which is one of the most popular nature activities of summer camp! 

Plantain leaves are edible (they have a pleasant nutty flavor) and also medicinal – the leaves have anti-biotic properties and are soothing when rubbed on scrapes, scratches, and itchy insect bites. Lurking is the background of this photo is another edible “yard salad” plant – dandelion leaves! 

Remember to only eat wild plants when you know for certain what they are, what part to eat, and when they can be eaten! As with any plant whose leaves you will eat, the young fresh-looking leaves of plantain are the best to eat. The ones in this picture look delicious!


To find out how you can join an edible hike through summer camp, LEEP field trips, and other events, check out www.lutherlyn.com




Friday, May 31, 2019

What is it Wednesday archive: March 14, 2018




Can you identify what's in this photo?


Each Wednesday morning 
on Camp Lutherlyn's Facebook page
 the Lutherlyn Environmental Education Program posts a photo. 


Readers have all morning and afternoon 
to make their best guess about what the photo is. 

Around 6 pm LEEP provides the answer and a brief explanation.


Each week's What is it Wednesday post 
will also be posted on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
 after it is posted on Facebook,
sometimes with additional bonus information. 

In addition to bringing you current editions of What is it Wednesday 
on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
we will be reposting old editions,
creating a What is it Wednesday archive. 

This photo was posted as a What is it Wednesday on
March 14, 2018. 



And the answer is....


This puddle of foam is caused by a naturally occurring substance called saponin. Saponin is the substance used in soap to make it foamy. Some plants naturally contain a lot of saponin. 

Maple trees have a lot of saponin in their bark. When it rains hard, the water washing over the bark of the trees flushes out the saponin, causing the trees to foam.  




Sometimes this foam also collects on the surface of of streams. Seeing foam in a stream or on the ground does not necessarily mean there is pollution – the foam might come from the trees and plants in the area. 

We spotted these puddles of saponin at the end of the wettest February ever recorded in Western Pennsylvania (2018). We have had heavy rains this week too (May 2019) and have seen lots of saponin on the ground and in the streams! 


To learn more about the surprising nature all around us with LEEP check out http://lutherlyn.com/ee


 Like and follow Camp Lutherlyn on Facebook, to see What is it Wednesday posts when they come out and have the opportunity to share your guesses in the comments!


Thursday, May 30, 2019

What is it Wednesday: May 29, 2019




Can you identify what's in this photo?


Each Wednesday morning 
on Camp Lutherlyn's Facebook page
 the Lutherlyn Environmental Education Program posts a photo. 


Readers have all morning and afternoon 
to make their best guess about what the photo is. 

Around 6 pm LEEP provides the answer and a brief explanation.


Each week's What is it Wednesday post 
will also be posted on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
 after it is posted on Facebook,
sometimes with additional bonus information. 

In addition to bringing you current editions of What is it Wednesday 
on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
we will be reposting old editions,
creating a What is it Wednesday archive. 

This photo was posted as a What is it Wednesday on 
May 29, 2019. 



And the answer is....



This big floppy flying insect is not a giant mosquito, it’s a crane fly. 

They are sometimes seen gathering around lights at night in the summertime, or floating around the forest, and they are harmless – they can’t bite or sting. 

We often see crane fly larvae during stream studies – although the adults live on land and fly in the air, the larvae live in the water. The larvae are one of our favorite “creepy-cool” things to find in the stream – they are a large white segmented “worm” about the size of a finger, and often do a wiggly “dance” in the water.


Stream studies are probably the number one most popular LEEP activity! To find out how you can be a part of a stream study at summer camp, a school field trip, or other special events, check out www.lutherlyn.com/ee .

Like and follow Camp Lutherlyn on Facebook, to see What is it Wednesday posts when they come out and have the opportunity to share your guesses in the comments!





Wednesday, May 15, 2019

What is it Wednesday: May 15, 2019



Can you identify what's in this photo?


Each Wednesday morning 
on Camp Lutherlyn's Facebook page
 the Lutherlyn Environmental Education Program posts a photo. 


Readers have all morning and afternoon 
to make their best guess about what the photo is. 

Around 6 pm LEEP provides the answer and a brief explanation.


Each week's What is it Wednesday post 
will also be posted on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
 after it is posted on Facebook,
sometimes with additional bonus information. 

In addition to bringing you current editions of What is it Wednesday 
on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
we will be reposting old editions,
creating a What is it Wednesday archive. 

This photo was posted as a What is it Wednesday on
May 15, 2019. 



And the answer is....





This is the skin of a cicada nymph. Annual (every-year) cicadas are common in late summer, around August and September. The nymphs develop underground for 2-5 years, then emerge and climb up a tree, plant, or other structure. The adult emerges from the nymph skin, leaving this “shell” behind. Annual cicada are also sometimes also called “Dog Day Cicadas” because they emerge in the “dog days” of late summer. 




adult annual cicada

The familiar sounds are made by the adult males to attract a mate. The sounds are produced by vibrating drum-like plates on their abdomens called tymbals. Their mostly-hollow abdomens magnifies the sound, which can be quite overwhelming during a large emergence! 

Periodic cicadas are famous for remaining underground for 13 or 17 years, then emerging in large numbers. Different “broods” emerge in different years in different regions. When so many cicadas emerge all at once, there are way more than predators can eat, ensuring that many cicadas will survive to reproduce. Nymphs of both annual and periodic cicadas are not dormant when they are underground – they are tunneling and feeding on plant juices which they suck from the roots. 

17 year cicada
photo from Wikimedia Commons, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

In 2019, brood VIII of 17 year cicadas will be emerging in parts of western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia! They emerge when the soil is 64 degrees F – usually mid-May to early June. Keep an eye (and ear) out for these amazing creatures! They are the longest-living insects on earth. 

They aren’t harmful, and spraying them with pesticides provides very little benefit to people, but can harm the insects, the animals that eat them, and the ecosystems they are a part of. 

Let us know if you hear or see them in your area!

Like and follow Camp Lutherlyn on Facebook, to see What is it Wednesday posts when they come out and have the opportunity to share your guesses in the comments!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

What is it Wednesday: May 8, 2019



Can you identify what's in this photo?


Each Wednesday morning 
on Camp Lutherlyn's Facebook page
 the Lutherlyn Environmental Education Program posts a photo. 


Readers have all morning and afternoon 
to make their best guess about what the photo is. 

Around 6 pm LEEP provides the answer and a brief explanation.


Each week's What is it Wednesday post 
will also be posted on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
 after it is posted on Facebook,
sometimes with additional bonus information. 

In addition to bringing you current editions of What is it Wednesday 
on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
we will be reposting old editions,
creating a What is it Wednesday archive. 

This photo was posted as a What is it Wednesday on May 8, 2019. 



And the answer is....



These are the eggs of a red-back salamander. (We saw a variation of the redback salamander, called a “leadback,” in a recent What is it Wednesday post.)  

Redback salamanders lay their eggs in grooves in rotting logs, or sometimes under decaying leaves, like these ones, in late spring and early summer. The eggs are laid in a grape-like cluster, usually attached by a single thread to the leaves or log. The female salamander stays with the eggs and young salamanders, protecting them until they are large enough to head out on their own.

Redback salamanders are one of the most common salamanders we see at Lutherlyn, and looking for salamanders and other amphibians is one of our most popular nature activities at Camp Blast! Join us this Saturday May 11 for this fun FREE open house for EVERYONE with dozens of great Lutherlyn activities happening all day. Check out www.Lutherlyn.com/campblast to find out more! 

Like and follow Camp Lutherlyn on Facebook, to see What is it Wednesday posts when they come out and have the opportunity to share your guesses in the comments!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What is it Wednesday: May 1, 2019




Can you identify what's in this photo?


Each Wednesday morning 
on Camp Lutherlyn's Facebook page
 the Lutherlyn Environmental Education Program posts a photo. 


Readers have all morning and afternoon 
to make their best guess about what the photo is. 

Around 6 pm LEEP provides the answer and a brief explanation.


Each week's What is it Wednesday post 
will also be posted on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
 after it is posted on Facebook,
sometimes with additional bonus information. 

In addition to bringing you current editions of What is it Wednesday 
on the Nature of Lutherlyn blog, 
we will be reposting old editions,
creating a What is it Wednesday archive. 

This photo was posted as a What is it Wednesday on May 1, 2019. 



And the answer is....


Hikers to Chapel Rock this week were able to see four different kinds of violets in one hike! 

The dark purple one in the bottom left is the common blue violet. 

common blue violet


Bottom right is the yellow forest violet. 

yellow forest violet


The light purple one in the upper right is the northern bog violet.

northern bog violet


And the small white one in the upper left is the Canadian violet. 

Canadian violet

Lutherlyn has one more violet species: the marsh blue violet, which has a very long stem, is found in wet areas, and which we sometimes see between the Sugar Shack and Upper Lake.


We love identifying wildflowers while walking the trails with groups! For more about how LEEP can help you enjoy the sights on your walks through nature, check out www.Lutherlyn.com/ee




Like and follow Camp Lutherlyn on Facebook, to see What is it Wednesday posts when they come out and have the opportunity to share your guesses in the comments!