Over Memorial Day weekend this year, I visited Chincoteague and was able to catch some close up photos of the wild ponies. What fun was that? These ponies are awesome to see. I recommend taking a trek to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge to see them in their glory!
Recognizing and being able to identify Scat can be very helpful and important. Scat, animal droppings, can help you determine what is in your yard eating your flowers. While on a hike, Scat can alert you to possible danger from a bear or coyote. Being able to evaluate the Scat can help you determine how healthy your yard's ecosystem is.
There are many resources out there that can help you identify scat. You can even find apps for your phone that can show you the different kinds of scat.
Black Bear (Ursus americanus) scat is interesting. Black Bears are opportunistic eaters, or Omnivores. They eat plants and animals. The time of year can help you know what a bear should be eating, and you should be able to see remnants in the scat.
Black bear scat tends to be long cords with ends that are blunt or have a short taper. The scat typically is sweet smelling - especially if it has been eating fruits and other vegetation. Even if it has eaten animals or garbage, the smell is rarely as foul as a dog or human.
Here are a couple photos of Black Bear scat taken in the road in front of my house in early July. This scat comprises mostly berries, and the seeds are every evident. If the bear had eaten an animal, evidence of fur or bones would be seen.
My garden is producing more than flowers... I have caterpillars! I currently have 2 host plants in my flower garden for the butterflies to lay their eggs on... a Spicebush for the Spicebush Swallowtail and Parsley for the Black Swallowtail. So, imagine my excitement when I discovered these cute caterpillars. (cell phone photos, so quality is not great)
Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar
This first photo shows the little caterpillar in its 2nd instar. Instars are the "stages" of growth that a caterpillar goes through before it pupates (turns into a chrysalis). As you can see, it's pretty small at this instar and kinda looks like bird pooh, which is camouflage to keep it from being eaten by birds.
This photo shows the little guy in the 3rd instar. It's getting bigger and even though it still looks like bird pooh, you can see that there are eye spots on the back of the "head" of the caterpillar. Another way that this little guy protects itself from birds is by folding a leaf over itself. In this photo you can see what looks like silk webbing on the leaf, and you may be able to see that my fingers are holding the leaf open. The caterpillar puts a silk webbing on the leaf and makes it fold, and it then hides in the fold.
And here it is in the 4th instar. It is green and has large eye spots on the back. Now, instead of looking like bird pooh, it looks like a snake head.
Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
This little guy is a Black Swallowtail Caterpillar in its 4th instar on some parsley. Surprisingly, the black strips and yellow spots make these guys very hard to see on flowering parsley.