When I walked out the door this morning, I was greeted by the fella below.
I say fella because this is a male Walkingstick. You can determine the sex by the narrow body and the claspers at the end of the abdomen, which are used to hold the female during mating. Females would have an enlarged abdomen at this time of year and no claspers. This species is likely Diapheromera femorata , the most common species of walkingstick in eastern North American. Walkingsticks feed on leaves and autumn is a good time to see them as it is also the heart of their mating season.
Out in front of the nature center the leaves of the Catalpa tree are being ravaged by a different plant eating insect. As you can see in the picture above, the leaves has been chewed down to their veins.
The culprit... the Catalpa Sphinx moth caterpillar, Ceratomia catalpae.
The Catalpa Sphinx is one of the Hornworm caterpillars. When young these caterpillars are gregarious (living together) and can appear in explosive numbers. A large number of caterpillars are capable of defoliating a small tree like the one they are feeding on now.
The cooling weather has triggered another animal in action.
The beavers have begun plastering the outside of their lodge with fresh mud to seal out the cold night air. You can see a "slide" in the center of the lodge.
With the recent rains dam building activity has resumed as well. Contrary to myth, beavers do not carrying mud on their tails. They carry and pack the mud in place with their front paws...just like you would!
The rain and wind have brought down many small branches that are cover with lichens.
Above is Powdered Ruffle lichen (Parmotrema hypotropum). This is a very common lichen that grows on many species of trees and especially on the upper branches. For those interested in lichens, the Ohio Division of Wildlife has a new publication that came out earlier this year entitled - Common Lichens of Ohio. Copies are available from the Division or by stopping by Wahkeena.
Autumn is also the time for nuts (insert your own joke).
Above are Hazel nuts that grow on the American Hazel (Corylus americana). (Back in Part 13 is a picture of the flower that produced this seed.) Hazel nuts are also known as filberts. Many may remember a time when folks would put out a bowl of nuts at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas time. As the nuts were still in the shell, a nutcracker was also nearby. Today most kids would only know a nutcracker as a wooden toy soldier.
Posted by TS