The front porch of Morven has an educational feature for gardeners.
Monday, March 27, 2023
Spring beauties are beginning to flower at Herrontown Woods. There's a bee that specializes in pollinating the flower. It's a mining bee, in the genus Andrena. The common name stems from its capacity to dig an underground home. The bee only spends a few weeks each year above ground, collecting pollen that it then forms into balls to nourish its progeny. Spring beauty is our most common spring ephemeral. Next time you're out, see if you can spot a bee. Chances are improved during the warmest part of the day.
A previous post of mine describes a curious behavior of the bee when disturbed, and includes info about a honey bee swarm seen in Herrontown Woods this time of year in 2020.
A "Bug of the Week" website offers a more detailed description of the mining bee's lifestyle.
A coyote was spotted at Princeton Battlefield this past Friday, March 24.
Thursday, March 23, 2023
One movie with local connections is Dark Sacred Sky, featuring Princeton University astrophysicist Gaspar Bakos, an advocate for reducing the waste light that has deprived us of the beauty and fascination of the night sky. Gaspar has been helping us prepare a telescope for use at Herrontown Woods.
According to the website,
"Dark Sacred Night" is a special storytelling project of the Princeton University Office of Sustainability. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Jared Flescher and Bakos."
Friday, March 03, 2023
This Sunday, March 5, I'll lead a late-winter nature and history walk at Herrontown Woods.
Come early to get coffee, homemade treats, and conversation at our pop-up May's Cafe at the Barden from 9-11.
There are a few signs of spring. The snowdrops are in full bloom at Veblen House. At least one of the black vultures has returned to the corncrib near the Veblen Cottage, where it and its mate have raised their young in past years. And we have an interesting sustainability project going on: milling fallen trees into lumber to use to build a boardwalk.
In the past, praying mantises of all sorts were looked upon as beneficial insects that consume insect pests. A few things have changed in this regard. For one, insects in general are becoming fewer. My observations haven't been systematic, but I've noticed a steep decline in pollinators in the past few years, and a coinciding increase in insect predators, particularly Chinese praying mantises. And it's a stretch to believe a predatory insect is going to only consume insects that we consider harmful. Last fall, I found one chowing down on monarch butterflies.distinguish between the different species of praying mantises and their eggcases also recommends feeding the nonnative eggcases to chickens.