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Trees and Shrubs

6/14/2010  The pink flowers of the redbud tree have turned into long, green "bean" pods, holding several ripening redbud seeds.  The redbud is a member of the Fabaceae, the legume family, which also includes beans, peas, alfalfa, clover, Kentucky coffeetree and black locust.    
6/14/2010 Buttonbush is blooming.  This native shrub likes to grow in wet, swampy areas - there are several planted at the back of the Earth Discovery Center parking lot.  The spherical flowers are a favorite of bumblebees and butterflies.
6/14/2010 Common milkweed is blooming.  The flowers are an important nectar and pollen source for a variety of bees, beetles, bugs and butterflies, and most humans find the flowers have a very sweet, pleasant smell as well.


6/14/2010  Duckweed is a tiny, green floating plant.  Although it is often mistaken for algae, it is actually one of the world's smallest flowering plants (the flowers are very tiny and rarely seen).  By midsummer it usually covers most of the Reflecting Pond in front of the Ornithology Center.
6/14/2010  May apple fruits are still ripening.  The "apple" is poisonous to humans until it turns yellow, indicating that it is ripe; however, nearly all the apples are eaten by squirrels and other wildlife as soon as they're ripe, so you are lucky if you spot a yellow one!

Fungus and Friends

6/14/10 A very tiny (thumbnail-sized) fluorescent orange fungus, growing on a rotting log. 

Insects and other Invertebrates

6/14/2010  Daddy longlegs are everywhere!  Daddy longlegs have no venom sacs and cannot spin webs, so despite the eight legs they are not considered true spiders.  They are still arachnids, but belong to their own unique order, the Opiliones.  They are also completely harmless to humans.
6/14/2010  Luna moth caterpillar munching on black walnut leaves.  The second generation of large, green moths will hatch out sometime in July.
6/17/2010 This strange aquatic insect is known as a water scorpion.  It feeds on other small insects and invertebrates in the pond, using its front legs to grab prey like an underwater preying mantis.  You have to look closely to spot a water scorpion in the pond!
6/21/2010  Dragonflies and damselflies are abundant at ponds, lakes, and other wetland areas.  Although they may look big and scary, have no fear!  They will not bite or sting humans, but they DO eat mosquitoes!  This particular dragonfly is a male Blue Dasher, a common species found throughout North America. 
6/21/2010 The first monarch caterpillars are munching on milkweed leaves

Reptiles and Amphibians

6/21/2010  Baby garter snakes are born.  Instead of laying eggs, garter snakes give live birth.  The tiny baby snakes leave their mother shortly after birth and are able to take care of themselves.  They feed on small slugs, crickets, and other invertebrates.  Garter snakes have teeth and can bite, but they are not venomous, and are not considered dangerous to humans.