I don't know about all of you, but September had me hopping from one project to the next - all very good things but I apologize for the limited updates. Don't fret though, this month there is a whole months' worth of interesting posts planned!
Let's start by highlighting some of the awesome things I found while wandering through the woods last month.
September brought the emergence of all sorts of different caterpillars below you can see the Tussock, Eastern Comma, and Monarch caterpillars!
While out in the marsh I've come across a few of these, the leaves looked like a willow tree but it appeared to have a growth resembling a pinecone. At last I discovered it is a Willow Gall. Much like the galls on goldenrod (round bulges in the stem) this occurs when an insect (midge gall in this case) lays a single egg in a willow's terminal bud in spring. Chemicals injected by the female midge mixed with the chemicals exuded by the egg cause the willow to stop the elongating of the branch and instead causes the leaf tissue to broaden and Harden into the shape that resembles the scales on a pine cone. The larvae will then safely grow to adulthood and emerge from the gall leaving no harm done to the tree.
Berries at peak
At the end of summer, you'll see many berry bushes at full peak as they fruit and fall to create more plants for next year - or as is often the case - for birds and other animals to enjoy and spread the seeds.
Below we have 'Dolls Eyes' aka White Baneberry, Solomon's seal, Solomon's Plume, and the Great Blue Cohosh in their fruiting glory.
I was just excited to find a green heron out at the Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area.
The unique rushes and grasses showing off their seeded blooms.
Below is the Soft Rush and Tawny Cotton Grass both found at the Bog.
These are neither poisonous nor venomous as they spend their days eating small insects and plant matter. These daddy-long-legs are safe to handle, just be careful with them, they are fragile.
While hiking out at Hampton Hills (Summit MetroParks) I came across a small hole in the trail - this isn't uncommon as chipmunks and even cicadas can leave holes in well packed trail dirt. As I walked closer a pair of eyes peered out at me, looking a little closer a nose appeared, then the shoulders, as I stood watching this little toad popped out and went on his way.
Toads are capable of digging holes with their back legs, even in tough soil, using their urine as a softening agent for stubborn dirt. Wether this toad dug his own hole or made use of a pre-existing one I don't know, but I will keep a closer eye as I pass by these holes along the trail.
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.