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Matt Pelikan

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Spring peepers

Late November may be a strange time of year to write about an animal with “spring” in its name, but among the absolute truths...

Ravens

While the peak of fall migration, long since past, offers the most active birding of the Vineyard year, many of the more unusual avian...

Barrens buck moths

From the naturalist’s perspective, the Vineyard is an odd and endlessly surprising place. Between the young geological age of the Vineyard, the ocean barrier...

Tree crickets

As the weather cools, the nocturnal chorus of insects gradually fades across the Vineyard. Among the hardiest singers are the tree crickets, an unusual...

Coneheads

On any mild October night — assuming we get one — you can step outdoors virtually anywhere on the Vineyard and hear insects singing....

Welcoming the red-banded hairstreak butterfly

Colorful, relatively easy to find and identify, butterflies have long been a favorite of collectors and field observers alike. Butterfly diversity is low enough...

A trio of kestrels at Katama

Updated, Thursday, Sept. 8, 8:30 amPoking around the FARM Institute’s fields at Katama Farm last Saturday, I saw something I haven’t seen in decades:...

Answers from the Wild Side: Do Vineyard skunks look different?

The great outdoors can produce baffling mysteries. MVTimes Wild Side columnist Matt Pelikan tries his best to solve them. Got a question for the...

Grasshoppers

When I began studying the Vineyard’s grasshoppers about six years ago, I knew almost nothing about them. There was only one species I could...

Cicadas

Often heard but seldom seen, cicadas are a dominant feature in the natural soundscape of the Vineyard in summer. The drone of lustful male...

Chloealtis: To find the grasshopper, you must be the grasshopper

About six years ago, I began the long-term project of trying to learn what I could about the Vineyard’s orthoptera — that is, its...

Potter wasps

The Island boasts some fine ceramic artists, and some of them aren’t human.Potter wasps are a division within the wasp family Vespidae, which also...

Dioctria hyalipennis

In my effort to study insects, the goal is simply to learn at least one new thing every day. Over time, in theory, the...

True bugs

As informal shorthand for nearly any kind of insect, the word “bug” gets used by pretty much everyone. Serious entomologists sometimes even make a...

Dreamy duskywing

I’ve been trying — with little success — to clean up a butterfly mystery. The subject is a homely-looking brown job that most people...

Bibio femoratus

“Swarms”: The word keeps cropping up in phone calls and emails, asking me to explain the astonishing explosion of black flying insects that has...

Three azures

Perhaps the most common question I hear at this time of year is, “What are those little blue butterflies that are all over the...

A perfect day for bug-hunting

My columns typically focus on one particular species that I’ve been able to learn something about. But sometimes my time in the field gets...

The ichneumons are here!

If you object to wasps because they sting, you’re in luck! The largest family in the wasp world has only a few members capable...

Sawflies

On nearly any decent winter day — sunny, not too cold, not too much snow on the ground — I try to swing through...