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Saturday, July 18, 2020

BFMS Nature Trail


From Beth P., here is an update: 
Plenty of work needed on BFMS Nature Trail

Nine naturalists from BRFAL and the Southwestern Piedmont chapters worked Tuesday, July 14, to clear part of the nature trail at Benjamin Franklin Middle School. Not only did they remove dead-fall from the trail but they pulled or weed whacked Japanese stilt grass in preparation for planting 75 native plants in September. The money for the native plants came from a 'Keep America Beautiful, 30 in 30' grant received by the Southern Piedmont Native Plant campaign and the West Piedmont Planning District Commission. https://keepvirginiabeautiful.org/programs/30-in-30-green-grants/

Joint project with BRFAL and Southwest Piedmont Chapters

Clearing dead-fall and weeds to make way for fall native plantings
Kathy Fell is developing a web page for this demonstration garden and a flyer for the school about the natives along the trail. Thanks very much for the update, Beth!



Saturday, July 4, 2020

Member photos: I spy with my little eye…


Dorian A. and her family share finds from a recent camping trip:

“While camping at Philpott Lake in Bassett, VA, my family found several interesting organisms.  The Eastern Hercules beetle was found next to the campground’s bathhouse. The Broad neck root borer was an exciting find at the base of a tree.  My children thought the borer had a long stinger but upon research, we discovered that it was an ovipositor because the borer was a female! 
Eastern Hercules Beetle
Broad Neck Root Borer
Their young, observant eyes spotted the multiple chanterelles during our nature walks. We found both smooth chanterelles and red chanterelles, the latter which were no taller than a nickel.  Being closer to the ground gave them the advantage to spotting such tiny fungi.
Smooth Chanterelles

Red Chanterelles
Thanks for cultivating these budding naturalists, Dorian!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Member Photos: New Life!


Every day may seem the same as we move through the time of pandemic restrictions. But there is abundant evidence of the excitement of new life out there! Here are member photos to illustrate:

Bluebirds-to-be from Terry L

How many babies does this Praying Mantis cocoon hold? Karen R


A curious cub explores from Bob P.


Whose babies wait to hatch in this egg sack? (Black widow spiders'!!) From Kris L

Life bursting forth all over and in all forms! Thanks to all for these interesting photos and please keep them coming. 


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Fritillary butterfly

This common and beautiful butterfly has the scientific name of Speyeria cybele; cybele meaning “mountain mother” or “earth mother”. Here is some information on this summer visitor from the U.S. Forest Service:
“Like many other butterflies, their caterpillars are very selective about what they eat. They do not go for milkweeds as do monarchs; they prefer violets instead. Without violets, there would be no fritillaries. The adults, on the other hand are thirsty for nectar of many native flowers, such as mints, butterfly weed, common milkweed, Joe-pye-weed and others; but they do not hesitate to visit some non-native flowers such as lilacs, butterfly bush and some thistles. In general they prefer long tubular flowers, but they can also use some easy to reach, more open flowers.”

Thanks to two members, we have stunning photos of these mountain mothers in action:           
Fritillary on butterfly weed, Terry L.
Fritillary on rare Piedmont Fameflower (Phemeranthus piedmontanus) Bob P.