Spring at the Museum?

December 7, 2011 | Greg Dodge

It’s December not April.

One of two Crane Fly Larvae seen on 12/2/11 in Catch the Wind.

What’s going on with the wildlife here at the Museum. Ranger Lew saw a Northern Water Snake on Saturday (12/3). Spring Peepers were calling and Yellow-bellied Sliders were out basking in the near 70 degree air of yesterday afternoon (12/6). Neither peepers or basking Turtles are unusual during this time of year though, a few days of warm temps is often enough to bring either of those herps out of hiding, even in the dead of winter.

Although Honey Bees can be seen throughout the cold season a paper wasp flying about Explore the Wild was a bit more atypical, although not unheard of (12/6). More unusual was a Virginia Pine Borer (Chalcophora virginiensis) yesterday on the Dino Trail (at least that’s what  I think it was, it had been stepped upon). I usually don’t see that species of beetle here at the Museum until April. And, the two crane fly larvae that I saw in Catch the Wind last Friday, six days into December, surely seemed out of place.

Crane Flies have a distinctive posterior. The tip of the abdomen looks a bit like a face.

The warm weather (especially the mild nighttime temperatures) following the much colder weather of just a few weeks ago has the wildlife emerging from their winter quarters as if it were spring. That’s about to change though, Thursday is supposed to bring in more typical weather for the season, things should get back to normal.

Enjoy the mild weather while you can. The nighttime lows are expected to get into the thirties and twenties the rest of the week. And although bullfrogs should still be out, you have one more day to go out and see how many peepers, snakes, and insects you can find.

Good luck!

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