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Showing posts with the label nature detective

Nature Detective: Hummingbird or Moth?

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Hummingbird Moth on Milkweed Is it a bird or is it a butterfly? A hummingbird moth can be found around your Adirondack garden throughout the summer months. Some shared characteristics between the two similarly named creatures make people mistakenly identify this moth for the more popular hummingbird. Differences 1) Stating the obvious here, but one is a moth and one is a bird. 2) A hummingbird moth's tail is shaped like a fan 3)  The moth has a long tongue that rolls up under its chin called a proboscis 4) A hummingbird moth is classified as a  Lepidoptera 5) Hummingbird moths have antennae Similarities between hummingbird and hummingbird moth 1) Both can remain suspended in the air as well as flying sideways and backwards 2) Both feed off of nectar   3) Both emit a similar humming sound   Hummingbird moth 1) In the United Kingdom, hummingbird moths are referred to as Bee Hawk moth 2) Part of the Sphingidae family, one of the fastest flying insects in the w

Make You Own (DIY) Paw Wax: protect pets' paws in all weather conditions from frostbite or hot pavement

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Protect dog paws from the cold Recipe and Craft: Do It Yourself (DIY) Paw Winter Protection (Paw Wax) - multi-use formula for pet walking, exploring, hiking, protect from road salt, frostbite, frostnip.  The temperatures around the Adirondacks have been well below freezing, -31º to be exact, but that doesn't stop our golden retriever from wanted to go outside to play. We still need to watch for signs of frostnip in all of us, we also make sure to take care of our pup. DIY Paw Wax ingredients We've always altered between using  Musher's Secret, a food-grade barrier wax made in Canada, and a homemade version of a paw wax. Our dog tends to lick off everything so whatever we use, we need to make sure it is safe for the furriest member of the family. (We have even use it ourselves as lip balm or hand moisturizer while we are hiking.) What is good enough for the dog, is good enough for the children.  Making your own paw wax isn't complicated, but the ingredien

Meat-Eating Plants? Adirondack Carnivorous Plants

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Sundews are a carnivorous plant from in the Adirondacks Nature Detective?   Yes, please!  At least with Adirondack carnivorous plants, you don't have to worry about it eating your pets or smallest child. This isn't A Little Shop of Horrors,  but Mother Nature's pest control.  Pitcher Plants at Ferd's Bog There are carnivorous plants that are native to the Adirondack Park, but they are much smaller than the mythical Venus Flytraps. The sundew, pitcher plant, and bladderwort are beautiful as they are resilient.    These   plants use various natural disguises to lure in its prey. No carnivorous plant completely relies on insects as a food source. Photosynthesis is still at play.   The sundews' sticky leaves glisten in the sun, tricky insects onto the leaves. There they are trapped and "eaten" by means of the plant's digestive enzymes.   The pitcher plant uses its brightly colored "trumpet " and nectar to lure insects into the

Nature Detective: What is this moss hanging from the tree? It is not Spanish Moss. It's Old Man's Beard (Usnea)

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The pale green lichen in the  Usnea "ooze-ne-a"  f amily ,  also known as Old Man’s Beard, can easily be spied hanging in tree branches around the Adirondacks. I Its green lacy tuffs remind me of the Lorax and the Truffula trees and as Dr. Seuss says, "Truffula trees are what everyone needs."   Did you know? • lichens are not really plants but a blending of two separate organisms: fungus and algae. • It is commonly known as a tree moss or beard moss.  • It is sometimes confused with Spanish moss, which is not found in the Adirondacks. • Usnea was used a  respiratory antibiotic since 1600 B.C    • Important in ancient Greek and Chinese medicine • Has anti-microbial properties so can be directly applied to an open wound to stave off infection.  • Make a tea or tincture out of it to treat lung infections.  • Has been used to combat tuberculosis in studies. Identify •A white, stretchy, thin cord can be found when you pull the Old Man's Be

Smokey Bear's Connection to World War II and Disney's Bambi

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Smokey the Bear, the iconic American symbol for forest fire prevention, actually was preceded by an earlier fire prevention strategy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt first started a fire prevention campaign when millions of acres of National Forest were being lost due to careless people. The campaign started with Uncle Sam and took a r eligious turn before tapping into the war movement. When Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and Japanese submarines fired shells exploding a Santa Barbara, California oil field - the war was brought to American soil. With young men and experienced firefighters enlisted in the war and stationed away from the home front, fear grew that these attacks would continue to destroy lives, property and National Forests.  Citizens were encouraged to take a personal interest in fire prevention and organize community prevention efforts. With the success of Disney's 5th animated movie, Bambi, the fire prevention campaign shifts

Why you won’t see a paper poppy craft for Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day on Adirondack Family Time

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I’m all for a good craft. My bathroom shelves and corners of every room in my house are filled with scraps of paper, string, and other tidbits waiting to be transformed into a fun afterschool activity. The one thing you won’t find on my website is a craft for a paper poppy for Remembrance Day, Veteran's Day or Memorial Day.  The paper poppy as a symbol for Memorial Day and Veteran's Day is sacred. In my opinion it shouldn’t be lumped into the same type of holiday craft madness as  Valentine’s Day  or  Christmas  (Oh, I have crafts here.   I like cutting and folding paper with the best of you. I like recycling, reusing, and repurposing.) There are so many blogs and websites posting crafts on how to honor veterans by making a paper poppy. I don’t mean to disparage those websites. I feel that the crafter's heart is in the right place. I just feel that the focus is off.  By making your own paper poppy, you aren’t able to connect a child or family member to the

The History of Memorial Day

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Memorial Day  was officially proclaimed in 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his   General Order No. 11 , and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  • The first state to officially recognize the holiday was  New York  in 1873 • 1890 - Memorial Day was recognized by all northern states.  • The South refused to acknowledge the day until after World War I What changed?  The holiday now honors all Americans who died fighting in any war, not just those that died fighting in the Civil War.  • Some southern states still have a separate day honoring the Confederate war dead:   January 19 in Texas  April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi  May 10 in South Carolina  June 3  in Louisiana and Tennessee, which just happens to be  Jefferson Davis' birthday Memorial Day (Remembrance Day,  Poppy Day , Armistice Day) is

Smokey Bear's Connection to World War II and Disney's Bambi

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Smokey the Bear, the iconic American symbol for forest fire prevention, actually was preceded by an earlier fire prevention strategy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt first started a fire prevention campaign when millions of acres of National Forest were being lost due to careless people. The campaign started with Uncle Sam and took a r eligious turn before tapping into the war movement. When Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and Japanese submarines fired shells exploding a Santa Barbara, California oil field - the war was brought to American soil. With young men and experienced firefighters enlisted in the war and stationed away from the home front, fear grew that these attacks would continue to destroy lives, property and National Forests.  Citizens were encouraged to take a personal interest in fire prevention and organize community prevention efforts. With the success of Disney's 5th animated movie, Bambi, the fire prevention campaign shifts

Adirondack Invasives: Go Native! (Substitute Native Plants for Invasive Plants)

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Looking around my own property I find that I have inherited trees, shrubs and plants that are considered moderately invasive in the Adirondack Park. Before I go ripping up my whole yard, I am looking into substituting the plants with native species to New York and the Adirondacks. It will take some weeding, but will be worth it in the long run! Before you transplant know what is considered invasive! Adirondack Nature Conservancy (ANC) surveyed roadsides for the following invasive plants: Garlic mustard  ( Alliaria petiolata ) Russian and autumn olive  ( Elaeagnus angustifolia  and  E.  umbellata  ) Fly and tatarian honeysuckle (  Lonicera  morrowii  and  L. tatarica ) Purple loosestrife (  Lythrum  salicaria ) White sweet-clover (  Melilotus  alba) Common reed grass (  Phragmites  australis ) Japanese knotweed (  Polygonum  cuspidatum ) Common and smooth buckthorn (  Rhamnus  cathartica  and  R. frangula ) Black locust (  Robinia  pseudoacacia ) Black swallowwort 

What is the difference between the Old and New Wind Chill Formulas?

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National Weather Service Windchill Chart Weather channels and news organizations are still making reference to the "old" wind chill formulas. Wind Chill describes the rate of heat loss on the human body resulting from the combined effect of low temperature and wind. As wind increases the internal body temperature is driven down at a faster fast, quickly reducing the exterior and interior body temperatures.   The "old" wind chill formula was first instilled in the 1940s and based on the research from Antarctic explorers Siple and Passel. The Siple and Passell formula was implemented through a series of observations on freeze times of plastic cylinders filled with water and placed in differing temperatures and wind speeds.  This old system did not take in consideration that the human body produces its own heat, unlike the plastic containers. In addition, weather stations measure wind speed, the basis for the WCT index , at a height of 33 feet where it is oft

Spring Fever: Eight (8) Days of Nature Activities

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By Diane Chase During a change of season I am always a bit overwhelmed whether its a new school year, Christmas shopping and all those twinkle lights or springtime mud. Everyone needs to get outside so here are 8 days of nature activities to do with your family to clear your head, no matter what environment you live in. Day One:  Look at the sky. Simple you say but how many times do you work in an office all day, commute to your job, sit in your car, play outside but never look up at the sky. Take a look. What do you see? Stars? Clouds? A jet? My daughter saw a magic carpet and a mermaid. Yes, together. Day Two: Look down, get on your knees down low and look at the ground. Look past the concrete and other stuff and try to find the earth.  Yesterday you looked up and today you look down. That is what children look at all the time, whether they are just learning to walk or running around. Get down low today and see what you have been walking on all this time.

Be A Nature Detective: Making Maple Syrup

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We only have five maple trees on our property and each year we produce two gallons of maple syrup, just enough for our family's consumption. Making maple syrup is a rewarding experience for children and families. It is a wild foraged food source that does take a lot of time, but is always worth the effort! • Can syrup be made from any sap out of any tree?  Well, it depends on what you want to use the syrup for. If you want something to sweeten your morning pancakes then maple trees have the highest content of sugar. Syrup has also been made from birch trees,  • How do you get the sap out of the tree?  A person has to drill a hole into the tree and tap in a spiel, a small peg that will let the sap drip out. A bucket or jar is also attached to the tree to catch the drips of sap. 

Kids Nature Detective: What causes autumn leaves to turn color?

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What is the cause for all those beautiful, fiery colors that make people drive the Adirondack highways and seek out the fall leaves? Those Adirondack Leaf Peepers may not care but if your family is anything like mine, they question everything. So if you are taking kids for a walk or hike why not share a few tidbits about the process.

Nature Detective: Thimbleberry

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When you are hiking in the Adirondack High Peaks you may come across a plant with wide leaves resembling a maple leaf.  The Thimbleberry or Flowering raspberry is native to eastern North American.  Other common names are White flowering raspberry or Salmonberry.

Be A Nature Detective: Robin Red Breast First Sign of Spring

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By Diane Chase Honestly, my children think the first sign of an Adirondack spring is the Michigan hotdog guy that places his cart at the intersection of Route 86/30 in Paul Smiths. That fellow is sometimes out there waiting for Paul Smith College students even in weather that Mother Nature's first sign of spring, the Robin Red Breast , finds daunting.

Nature Detective: Dragonfly Nymph

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Dragonfly Nymph     Large, bulbous eyes Thick, round or oval bodies that may end in three pointed extensions Six long, segmented legs Unique, scoop-like lower jaw Gills are internal and not visible Ecological Role Dragonfly nymphs are prominent predators of other aquatic macroinvertebrates.  They are also known to prey on small fish and amphibians.

Stream Insects and Crustaceans for Healthy Water

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T he sampling of aquatic macroinvertebrates provide s a convenient and cost-efficient method for determining the water quality of a stream. Aquatic macroinvertebrates are water animals that have no backbone and can be seen without magnification.  Aquatic macroinvertebrates include such animals as crayfish, clams, aquatic snails, aquatic worms, and the aquatic larvae of winged insects. Aquatic macroinvertebrates can be classified into three groups based on their ability to tolerate water pollution: Pollution Sensitive:  This group of macroinvertebrates are very sensitive to water pollution.  They are generally only found in water of good quality. Stonefly Nymph Caddisfly Larva Water Penny Riffle Beetle Mayfly Nymph Gilled Snail Dobsonfly Larva Water Flea Planarian   Somewhat Sensitive:   This group of macroinvertebrates can tolerate low levels of water pollution.  They can be found in water of good or fair quality. Crayfish Sowbug Scud Alderfly Nymph Fishfly Nymph

Finding a Peaceful Adirondack Moment with the Black-Capped Chickadees

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It is a chilly morning in the Adirondacks. Taking my puppy for a walk leads me on all sorts of adventures that I look forward to sharing with my family later in the day.  The woods are so still and even my pup seems to know to be quiet.  The trees are covered in frost and was fortunate to hear the black-capped chickadees simple 3-note whistle. 

Building and Placing A Bat House

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Do you want to help bring back the bat population to the Adirondacks?  White-nose Syndrome has killed more than 5.7 million bats  since it was discovered in a single New York cave in February 2006 DID YOU KNOW? • There are cave bat species (Northern Bat, Little Brown Bat, Indiana Bat, Eastern Pipistrelle, Big Brown Bat) and tree bat species (small-footed bat, red bat, hoary bat, silver-haired bat,  in New York State • All cave bat species in New York State spend the winter hibernating in caves and mines where they live off stored fat reserves.  • According to Bat Conservation International ,  a single bat can capture 500 to 1,000 mosquitoes in a single hour! • Bats are the only mammal that can fly! (Flying squirrels just glide) • Bats wings are similar to a human hand. Yes, it is has four fingers and a thumb • All bats located in New York State eat insects. Other breeds eat    fruit, nectar, small mammals, birds, lizards, frogs, fish, and blood.   • Bats' predators in

Adirondack Native Plants: Foam Flower

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Foam Flower Tiarella cordifolia   zone: 3-9  light: sun to shade  soil: moist  flower color: white  bloom: May - June  height: 6" - 1' plant spacing: 1' uses: groundcover, spreads by runners divide: spring or fall