Monday, October 19, 2020

What is it Wednesday archive: October 30, 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

October 30, 2019. 

 

 

 

And the answer is....

 



 This beautiful spider is an orange marbled orb weaver. 

There are many color variations of marbled orb weaver, but the bright orange variety seen here give this spider the common name “pumpkin spider” and makes it a perfect feature for October and Halloween! 

Spiders have two body parts – the abdomen and cephalothorax (head and “chest” in one section). The abdomen is the most visible part in this picture, the cephalothorax is just barely visible (and a bit blurry) on the spider’s bottom right side under its outstretched legs.

All orb weavers are part of the arachnid family Araneidae. That makes this orb weaver a relative of the  yellow and black Argiope garden spider, a previous What is it Wednesday feature. All orb weavers build a round web with “spokes” of thread radiating outward from the center, some of them sticky “capture” threads. While argiopes wait for their prey in the middle of the web, marbled orb weavers wait for their prey while concealed off to the side of their web. A single signal thread reaches from the center of the web to their hiding spot, and vibrations on this thread of the web alert the spider that something has landed in the web.

The bright colors and large abdomen of this spider give it a startling appearance, but they are docile and non-aggressive, so humans have nothing to fear from them. In fact, they are great neighbors to have, because by preying on insects, they help control insect populations. In fact, most of the creatures that humans fear in nature are harmless and just doing their job as part of the ecosystem.

For more on how LEEP can help you transform your view of nature from fearful to fascinating, through school field trips, Saturday Safaris, summer camp, retreats and more, check out www.Lutherlyn.com/ee. Happy Halloween everyone!  

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, October 14, 2020

What is it Wednesday: October 14, 2020

 


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

October 14, 2020. 

 

 

 

And the answer is....

 



This amazing mushroom is often known as sheepshead (especially in Western PA). 

It is also called hen-of-the-woods, maitake, and ram’s head. Its scientific name is grifola frondosa. It is considered a choice edible and is also used medicinally. It has no dangerous look-alikes - the few mushrooms that resemble it  are also edible (though not as delicious). It is not at all uncommon to find specimens as big as the one in this photo, and sometimes even larger!

Always remember that whenever trying a new wild food it is important to make sure you have the correct identification and preparation, and to try a small amount at first to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction. With mushrooms especially, confirm identification with multiple sources and/or a trusted expert. (As always, the safest way to be sure you don’t eat any poisonous wild mushrooms is to not eat  any wild mushrooms.)

Congrats to our friend Zachary for such a wonderful find! 

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, October 7, 2020

What is it Wednesday: October 7, 2020


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

October 7, 2020. 

 

 

 

And the answer is....

 

 



This is the nest of a leaf-cutter bee. 

Leaf-cutters are solitary bees, slightly smaller than honey bees, and similar in appearance but a bit darker.

Female leaf-cutter bees construct nests by cutting small circular pieces from the edges of leaves, which they stick together into a tube inside a hollow spot, usually in rotting wood or other narrow spaces. Each “cell” of the tube contains one egg, and pollen and nectar. Each nest may contain a dozen cells, and each female bee may create several nests, laying up to 40 eggs. When the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the pollen and nectar. The larva will eventually spin a cocoon and pupate inside the cell. The adult bee emerges from the cocoon and overwinters  inside the cell, then in the spring chews its way through the leaves and emerges to mate and begin the cycle again. (You can see the small holes left behind by the emerging adults in this old nest we found.) 

Leaf-cutter bees are good pollinators. Females collect pollen on many small hairs on the underside of their abdomens. This makes it easy for the pollen from one plant to brush off as a bee visits another plant, helpfully spreading pollen from plant to pant. There are native as well introduced species of leaf-cutter bees throughout North America. Leaf-cutter bees rarely sting, only when handled, and their sting is mild.

You can identify the presence of leaf-cutters near you by spotting the circular or half-circle holes left behind in the edges of leaves. Lots of other leaf-eating insects leave holes in the edges of leaves (caterpillars, beetles, katydids, walkingsticks, etc.). The holes left behind by leaf-cutter bees are very smooth and circular, while those left behind by other insects are more ragged and irregular. 

circular holes left behind by leaf-cutter bees, in redbud tree leaves


You may also find evidence of the leaf-cutter bees by finding their nests left behind in narrow gaps and holes in wood dead trees or man-made structures.  

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, September 30, 2020

What is it Wednesday: September 30, 2020

 



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

September 30, 2020. 

 

 

 

And the answer is....

 

 

 This pretty little wildflower is called nodding lady’s tresses. 

It is a small member of the orchid family, often found near roadsides and the edges of ponds. It was spotted near the settling pond of the passive treatment system for abandoned mine drainage on Lutherlyn’s property.


Even in an area being remediated because of pollution, beauty finds ways to shine through. Spotting fall wildflowers also feels like a special treat, as fall frosts begin and soon there will be very few plants blooming. Get outsides and soak up all the fall beauty you can, from wildflowers, to weird mushrooms, to colorful leaves. 

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, September 23, 2020

What is it Wednesday: September 23, 2020

 



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

Septebmer 23, 2020. 

 

 

 

And the answer is....




These jars on the railing at Lutherlyn's Terra Dei Homestead contain the fruit spikes
of staghorn sumac, steeping in the sun to make a lemonade-like sun-tea.

Staghorn sumac is a large shrub/small tree that produces red plumes of seed clusters in late summer. These hairy seed clusters, when steeped in water and then strained, make a mildly tart and refreshing drink that used to be referred to as “Indian lemonade.”  It is one of the many treats of the late-summer abundance of the land! 

In early summer, staghorn sumac develops a cluster of small greenish yellow flowers, known as an “inflorescence.” In late summer, this inflorescence develops into an “infructesence” – the fruit of the plant, a cluster of seeds.  (A cluster of grapes, a head of wheat, and an ear of corn are all infructesences.)  It is these red plumes that are the most distinctive features of staghorn sumac  – and also what can be made into the delicious sumac lemonade.


by Pohled 111 https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ 

Staghorn sumac twigs are covered with fine rust-colored hairs, giving them a velvety texture like that of newly-grown deer antlers. This and the branching shapes of the twigs give the shrub its common name:   stag’s horn.

Staghorn sumac is actually in the cashew family! This means it is related to cashews, mangos, and pistachios; and also to poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. All the plants that produce urushiol, the irritant that causes the itchy blisters of contact dermatitis, are in the same genus in the cashew family (Toxicodendron). Staghorn sumac is in a different genus in the cashew family (Rhus).

Many people think staghorn sumac and poison sumac are the same thing, or aren’t sure of the differences between the two. They both are large shrubs with compound leaves, but the similarities end there.

Poison sumac causes a strong reaction similar to poison ivy when it makes contact with bare skin, or is eaten or its smoke inhaled, while staghorn sumac is harmless. The leaves of poison sumac are wider and smoother and have unserrated edges; poison sumac twigs are not hairy; poison sumac produces smaller clusters of larger flowers; poison sumac produces white berries, not the striking red plumes of staghorn sumac. We don’t have any poison sumac at Lutherlyn, and it is uncommon in Pennsylvania. It is almost always found in wetlands.


Poison sumac


Staghorn sumac is very common, has visible red plumes for much of the year, and has hairy twigs and narrow pointy leaves with serrated edges.

The confusion is understandable, as a lot of incorrect information can be encountered online and passed on. I found a link to one article on poison sumac contained a picture of staghorn sumac – but in following that link, that picture was not included in the article at all. Only poison sumac pictures were included in the actual article, but somehow the staghorn sumac picture ended up in the link preview – very confusing! We are lucky that mostly what we encounter in Pennsylvania is staghorn sumac, and that it is so distinctive and with a little knowledge is easy to identify as safe. 

Happy Fall, and we at LEEP hope you get to enjoy the beautiful abundance of the earth! 

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!




Monday, September 21, 2020

What is it Wednesday archive: September 19, 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

September 19, 2018. 

 

 

 

And the answer is....



This is the larva of a firefly. 

We see firefly larvae fairly often this time of year, along the edges of dirt roads and in the grass. They don't flash brightly like the adults, but they do have a gentle glow, that occasionally fades slowly on and off. They are sometimes called glowworms. The ability of an animal or plant to create light is called bioluminesence. 

Firefly larva are ferocious eaters, devouring small soft-bodied animals like worms and slugs. They overwinter just under the soil or leaves, pupate in the late spring, then emerge as adults in early summer.

Many people have never seen a firefly larva, but you might spot one on a LEEP night hike – we love leading night hikes at summer camp, school field trips, and retreats. 

2020 Update: compare this larva to the ladybug larva posted on June 17, 2020. What is similar? What is different? Do you think you would confuse one for the other if you found one in real life? Why are why not?

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, September 16, 2020

What is it Wednesday: September 16, 2020

 



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

September 16, 2020. 

 

 

 

And the answer is....





This big beauty is an imperial moth. They are the largest moth in Pennsylvania. 

The adults emerge in late summer – just in time to blend in with falling mottled-yellow leaves. Unlike many other moths and butterflies, imperial moths do not have a distinct pattern, but a general color scheme (yellow and purplish brown) with many variations. This may make it harder for predators to learn to identify them, enhancing their camouflage.

 

This particular moth was left by a visitor in our “Discovery Zone.” This is a display in the Discovery Room of our Environmental Education center where people can add their own interesting nature finds from their visit at Lutherlyn. Thank you to whoever left us this beautiful specimen!