Outside Story: Turning the food chain upside down

Outside Story: Turning the food chain upside down

BRETT AMY THELEN As a kid, I was fascinated and terrified by the idea of carnivorous plants. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, my only exposure to this particular subset of the plant kingdom was the ravenous, larger-than-life Venus fly trap in “Little Shop of Horrors.” If I stumbled upon a carnivorous plant in real… Read More »

Outside Story: The insect apocalypse: Hype vs. fact

Outside Story: The insect apocalypse: Hype vs. fact

JOE RANKIN Last February, you might have seen news stories about an impending insect apocalypse. “Huge global extinction risk.” “Plummeting insect numbers threaten collapse of nature.” “Insects are dying off at a scary rate.” And those were just the headlines on online articles from New Scientist, The Guardian and Fortune. Whew. The source was an… Read More »

Seeing spots: The sandpipers that like lakes

Seeing spots: The sandpipers that like lakes

LAURIE D. MORRISSEY If there’s one place you’d expect to see a sandpiper, it’s on the sand. However, there is one member of this family of shorebirds that prefers streamside to surfside. Almost any time you go for a paddle, you are likely to see small brown birds skimming low across the water with stiff,… Read More »

Wonderful world of rodent grave diggers

Wonderful world of rodent grave diggers

ROD VALLEE A regular chore of mine is to dispose of the mice and moles trapped in our home. I place them on a four by five-foot patch of dirt and rock — which I have named the gravesite — beside my woodshed. They typically disappear overnight, taken, I had assumed, by our resident barred… Read More »

Mosquitoes: Life under tension

Mosquitoes: Life under tension

DECLAN MCCABE A good friend was in touch; her son was enduring allergic reactions to mosquitos and, like any good parent, she sought solutions. I told her that the most practical, non-toxic way to deal with the problem was to consider a mosquito’s life cycle and interrupt it where it starts. Mosquitoes begin their lives… Read More »

The brook floater mussel

The brook floater mussel

SUSIE SPIKOL Freshwater mussels are not exactly charismatic. They don’t flit gracefully about like a Karner blue butterfly or munch on clover like a cottontail. They aren’t known for their sweet songs like a wood thrush, and they don’t close down traffic on the first rainy night of spring like spotted salamanders. They are fish… Read More »

Early summer nights great for luna moth watching

Early summer nights great for luna moth watching

SUSAN SHEA On early summer nights I sometimes see large, pale green moths with long, twisted tails fluttering near our porch light. Later, I often find them dead on the ground. These beautiful moths are luna moths, named for the Roman goddess of the moon. Each of their four wings has a transparent, moon-shaped eyespot.… Read More »

Lovely lupines: Not native to New England

Lovely lupines: Not native to New England

LAURIE D. MORRISSEY Lupine is one of the most spectacular flowers of early summer, painting long stretches of roadside with shades of purple and blue. Thanks to this tall, showy plant, even a stop-and-go drive to Boston’s Logan Airport has its moments of beauty (as I recently had occasion to observe). Full sun and dry,… Read More »

The humble hornpout: a bottom-feeding delicacy

The humble hornpout: a bottom-feeding delicacy

JOE RANKIN Consider, for a second, a fish that can live in turbid, low-oxygen water. It can breathe through its skin, eats almost any-thing, has a wickedly effective defense mechanism and is a really focused parent. Plus, it’s good to eat. We’re talking about the humble hornpout, or “horned pout,” if you prefer. Or “mud… Read More »

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