Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nature hike

Yesterday we went hiking up the road to look for monarch eggs and blackberries. Blackberry season is almost over, and the blackberries at the top of the hill were all dried up and done.

We checked the backs of all the milkweed leaves and found oleander aphids, milkweed bugs, Milkweed tussock caterpillars, ladybugs, jumping spiders and our first monarch egg!! So we brought it home to raise like we do every summer.

That teeny tiny white dome is a monarch egg. Once it hatches, the tiny caterpillar will eat it egg and then start munching on the milkweed leaf.

We also found these crazy little worm/caterpillars munching on this leaf. i don't know what they are, but every time the leaf moved they would all stand up on there heads forming an S shape. It was really bizarre to watch!

We also came across this lovely caterpillar eating grape vine. It is an eight spotted forester.
We brought it inside to raise with the monarch. Their host foods are grape vine and Virginia creeper, and they pupate underground or in crevices of bark/wood.

We wandered through the woods a bit, exploring the empty cabins on the land next to us and found all kinds of crazy fungus popping up everywhere. i've never been confident in identifying mushrooms (other than morels) because they look so different at each stage of their grown. However i believe these are Amanitas. Many Amanita species are highly poisonous and deadly when consumed. They can be identified by the sack like cup surrounding the base of the

Once they get a bit larger, they have a parasol shape and a ring on the stem. Often times the cup like base is hidden just beneath the soil. There were tons of these in the woods, and the kids had so much fun finding one after another. Many were very large and others just coming up.

These mushrooms make beautiful pictures, but do not touch them and we leave them where ever we find them.

We found the beautiful birds nest lying upside down in the woods. It has a mud base, that looks like it was once connected to a tree branch. My girl brought it home and turned it into a fairy bed with a few other found objects we had collected on our hike.

“Children have a natural affinity towards nature. Dirt, water, plants, and small animals attract and hold children’s attention for hours, days, even a lifetime.” -Robin C. Moore and Herb H Wong


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