The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Posts tagged insects

  • Wing'd XXXVIII: Is That a Tick?

    | June 28, 2017 | Filed under: Observations

    A walk in the woods and a chance encounter lead to a path of discovery.

  • Better Living through Chemistry?

    | October 1, 2016

    Robert Hooke's drawing of a flea in Micrographia, c. 1730

    The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 10/2/2016, and Making It At Home's 10/5/2016 issue.

    When my wife, sons, and I went away to our annual family reunion over Labor Day Weekend, we never expected to return home to find a party raging at our house. We’d left our cat, Greenberry, in charge of the homestead. When we got back from our trip, she was playing host to hundreds of obnoxious guests.


  • Emerald Jewel on Copper Beech

    Wells Reserve Contributor | July 16, 2015

    Monarch butterflyWe listen to the rain patter against the roof of leaves of the wise old copper beech tree as campers and I munch lunch. The vast canopy gives the impression of a complete ceiling of wood and leaves, but campers are able to look closely and discover something remarkably unique.

  • The Table Manners of Spittlebugs

    Wells Reserve Contributor | July 6, 2015

    Cuckoo Spit

    Who’s been spitting in the grass? Stick your fingers into the frothy mass and you’ll likely find a cool and moist tiny lime-colored creature with black eyes. This is the nymph (or immature form) of a spittlebug (Cercopidae).

  • In Like a Lionfish, Part 1

    | March 1, 2014

    Fallen Tree - art by Alastair Heseltine

    The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune and Making It At Home Sunday editions, 3/2/2014.

    The home we purchased last spring came with a wood stove, but up until last month, we hadn’t used it. Just in time for January’s second polar vortex, we got our chimney re-lined and, just like that, we had a cozy living room.

    The only problem was that, by this point in the winter, seasoned firewood was scarce. We went through the small poplars I’d cut down in our yard last March within two weeks and then had to rely on those $5 kiln-dried bundles from Home Depot and Hannaford. Soon, even those were hard to find.

    What burned me up even more than their price was that I had enough firewood stored up for the next five winters — 200 miles south of here.

  • Butterflies of the Wells Reserve

    | February 18, 2014 | Filed under: Observations

    Often showy but frequently cryptic, butterflies are an attractive challenge. At least 45 species have been documented at the Wells Reserve.

  • The King of Annual Family Migrations

    | September 4, 2013

    The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 9/8/13:

    Monarch on milkweed leavesFor the past 34 years, my mother has thrown a family reunion on Labor Day weekend. Thirty to fifty of us arrive from all over the Northeast and Canada for four days of feasting, toasting, singing, dancing, even a “Geezers vs. Young Bucks” softball game. It’s an annual weekend devoted to celebrating, shoulder to shoulder, our lifelong ties and the continuity of our families and traditions.

    Meanwhile, for those who devote themselves to the monarch butterfly, there has been no celebration yet. This month, on this side of the Rockies, monarch adults from Maine to Alberta should be flying 2,500 miles back to a few square acres within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site sixty miles northwest of Mexico City, where they overwinter from October to March. They should be, but they aren’t.

  • Spring Tale

    | April 25, 2013

    The lunchtime trail walk temptation was strong on Wednesday, so I went to the bog boardwalk to eat in the sun. I had late April optimism about birds and butterflies, but saw few of the former and none of the latter during my half-hour sit.

    Close-up view of springtails on boardwalk planksAfter being settled with a sandwich for several minutes, I happened to glance down at the boardwalk a few planks away and registered a whole lot of movement. In a moment I realized that hundreds — no, thousands — of itty bitty jumping bugs were teeming over the area. A quick check of my food and clothes calmed fears of an infestation, then I gave my full attention to the easily overlooked swarm.

  • Winged Wednesday XXVI: Into the Wind

    | September 19, 2012

    Blue sky, two monarchs, two dragonfliesIn a post to the maine-birds group today, Jerry Kelly remarked about the "Disneyesque" crowd of monarchs staging at Fort Foster in Kittery around noon. He was estimating well over 500 at the time, but that number surely rose as the day wore on.

    I can be confident because when I stepped out for my own lunch-time bird walk the migrating monarchs were so mesmerizing I did a butterfly sit instead.

  • Monarchs Rescued!

    | August 22, 2012

    Last week, a group of sixteen devoted volunteers set to work to rescue the eggs and caterpillars of the Monarch Butterfly. Within the next week or two, many of the fields at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm will be mowed. Annual mowing of select fields is necessary to prevent important field habitat from growing up into forests, and to combat the spread of invasive species. The mowing is done in late summer, after field nesting birds like the Bobolink have finished rearing their young.