Monday, May 23, 2011

Cicadas, a snake, and more...

   I happen to really like cicadas. There's been a lot of talk lately about the emergence of Brood 19 of the 13 year cicada. Yes, cicada, not locust. People often call cicadas locusts but they are not, locusts are grasshoppers which are capable of significant agricultural damage. Cicadas do very little noticeable damage, unless you don't like their buzzing, in which case they may damage your sanity. There are annual cicadas, species which emerge every summer, and periodical cicadas, a slightly different species that emerges only once every 13 or 17 years. Our last periodical emergence was in 2003, which was brood 9 of the 17 year cicada. They sound a little different, the ones in 2003 sounded like a UFO whirring in the woods, very creepy. The annual ones are more buzzy. We don't have any emerging yet here in SW VA, but I hope we will. We can also look forward to next years brood 1 of the 17s. If you are a crazy bug lover like myself or just curious and looking for more information, check out where you can report sightings, see maps of their emergence, and more. You can also listen to a interview with cicada researcher John Cooley at the University of Connecticut on the Science Friday program on NPR here.
   I'd love to show you a picture of that cicada, but alas, I do not have one. How about a picture of a Snowberry Clearwing instead?

It's a moth, can you believe that? Closely related to the Hummingbird Moth, the Snowberry Clearwing is a bumblebee mimic. It's flight pattern is more "bumbling" like a bee, whereas the Hummingbird Moth has more of an smooth "in and out" motion to it. Otherwise they look identical. You can read more about it here and see a map of sightings in your area.
   I also spotted my first snake of the season, thanks to the alarm call of mommy and daddy Cardinal. I just love it when they say "predator over here!" with their loud "TWEET, TWEET, TWEET!".

I thought about trying to encourage him or her to move along and stop stressing out the Cardinals, who have a nest nearby, but it said "leave me alone", so I did. I really enjoy seeing snakes, I don't see them very often. They're one of those things like owls, you know they are there, they're just hiding or super camouflaged.
   Elsewhere, I just recieved an order of natives from Shooting Star Nursery. They are located in Kentucky, not too far from me, and have a huge assortment of natives from my region. I've been extremely pleased with their quality, the hard part is restraining myself from ordering everything! This time I got some Carex pennsylvanica (Pennsylvania Sedge), Penstemon calycosus (Smooth Beardtongue), solidago caesia (Woodland Goldenrod), and Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed).

This picture was taken right after I unpacked them and after a day in the sun they straightened up and really looked lovely. Now, as soon as I get these in the ground, what will I order next.....

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures...I love the hummingbird moth (hope I get some soon).

    The "leave me alone" pose is my favorite of the snake pics.

    ...and I'm glad I'm not the only one that takes pictures of my newest arrivals--those I've grown from seed as well as those I've purchased. Looks like you have quite a few new additions...and a bit of planting to do. :)