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Matt Pelikan

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Wild Side: The pearl crescent

Mid-October is nearing the end of the season for butterflies on the Vineyard (indeed, insect life of all kinds is winding down for the...

Wild Side: A snappy fly

Regular readers will know that I have a certain fondness for flies. While some flies are justifiably detested by humans — blowflies and mosquitoes,...

Wild Side: Orthoptera news

We’re still in the peak season for orthoptera — crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers — and the past few weeks have shown that there is...

Wild Side: A naturalist visits America

As much as I love the wildlife of Martha’s Vineyard, I have to admit that mainland America has a lot to offer as well....

Wild Side: Less regal milkweed eaters

Everybody knows the monarch butterfly, that most charismatic of lepidopterans, depending exclusively on milkweed plants to feed its caterpillars. It’s one of the most...

Wild Side: Broad-headed bugs

Broad-headed bugs are fairly large insects, with big individuals approaching an inch in length. The common name for the family comes from the shape...

Wild Side: Erythrodiplax, the lazy dragonfly

I have a special fondness for species that have evolved to exploit conditions that would that would be inhospitable or even harmful to near...

Wild Side: Amphipods’ turn in the spotlight

After decades studying insects, I suppose I’m habituated to noticing things that are too small, too quick, or too inconveniently positioned for normal people...

Wild Side: Jumping spiders

Many people feel a visceral revulsion to spiders. And while the risks are vastly overestimated among the general public, the fact that a few...

Wild Side: Good neighbors

Common, easily observed, and quietly beautiful, the mourning dove is a bird all Vineyarders should be acquainted with. Small-headed, about the size of a...

Wild Side: Dance flies

I’ve written before about my growing fascination with flies — that is, the insect order Diptera — and I’m sorry to report that the...

Wild Side: The BMSB

Like most naturalists, I’m a big fan of “firsts” — seeing a species for the first time, finding something never before recorded in a...

Wild Side: Thick-headed flies

The fly family Conopidae suffers from a ludicrous common name: They are generally known as “thick-headed flies.” The name presumably comes from the blocky,...

Wild Side: Cowbirds

While birds rank among the most charismatic of wildlife, there are a few avian species that arouse the ire of birders and naturalists. Often...

Wild Side: Anatomy of the Vineyard

Famously glacial in its origins, Martha’s Vineyard is a relatively recent creation, in essence a huge pile of rock, transported, tumbled, ground, crushed, puréed,...

Wild Side: Song sparrows

Like most birders, I’m fond of wandering rarities, brightly colored species, and large, charismatic species — the kinds of things that draw hordes of...

Wild Side: Grackles

Let’s just forget about the “first robin of spring” myth. For one thing, robins are here and often plentiful all winter, so their “arrival”...

Wild Side: Bald eagles

As recently as the publication of Vineyard Birds II in 2007, the bald eagle was considered a scarce vagrant on the Island, recorded at...

Wild Side: The long-bodied cellar spider

I feel like part of my job as a nature columnist is to serve as a public relations consultant for animals that are unfairly...

Wild Side: Grebes

Among the stranger-looking birds, grebes are highly adapted to life on and in the water. Their legs are set far back on their bodies...