Monthly Archives: July 2014

Nesting Northern Cardinals

A few weeks ago my wife and I noticed that a family of Northern Cardinals (Passeriformes: Cardinalidae: Cardinalis cardinalis) had taken up residence in a barberry bush (Berberis sp., Berberidaceae) next to our front door. It seemed like an odd place … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Ichneumon wasp

There are perhaps 60,000 to 100,000 species of Ichneumon wasps (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) throughout the world, and these abundant insects can be found almost anywhere. One night last week I noticed this individual resting on an interior wall of my garage. Female … Continue reading

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Barn Swallow chicks almost ready to leave the nest

Historically Barn Swallows (Passeriformes: Hirundinidae: Hirundo rustica) built nests in caves and along rocky recesses, but over the last few hundred years they’ve learned to exploit the abundant and solid structures built by people. After migrating from Central and South … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Woolly locoweed

Like other locoweeds, woolly locoweed (Astragalus mollissimus, Fabaceae) gets its common name from a peculiar effect it has on grazing animals. This plant produces a toxin known as locoine, an alkaloid that causes sheep, cattle, and other herbivores to “go loco” and exhibit … Continue reading

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Just your typical country road in Michigan…

Living and working in rural southeast Michigan, I spend a lot of time driving along gravel country roads. Along the way I get to see a fair number of interesting plants and animals. The largest animals to be found here are white-tailed … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Spicebush swallowtail on a common buttonbush

Spicebush swallowtails (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae: Papilio troilus) are relatively large butterflies that can be found in a variety of habitats in eastern North America. Adults spend much of their time feeding on the nectar provided by a number of flowering plant … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Canaigre dock

Canaigre dock (Rumex hymenosepalus, Polygonaceae) is a rather unique plant that is native to the southwest United States and northern Mexico. This member of the buckwheat family can be found growing in sandy soil at lower elevations, and is well-adapted to the dry climate. … Continue reading

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