Saturday, February 22, 2020
Home Authors Posts by Matt Pelikan

Matt Pelikan


Steamship ferries as outdoor observatories

Oceans are always interesting, and it’s a rare trip between Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven that doesn’t produce at least some viewable wildlife.

Some like it cold

There’s something elegant about an insect designed to flourish when all the world is frozen.

Ring-necked ducks show off now

Cranberry Acres almost always has a flock of ring-necks at the appropriate season, and these flocks can be large.

Answers from the Wild Side

A word or two about leaf miners

What’s all the buzz about?

I believe that analysis of their calls can help us understand the relationships among insect populations.

The air is alive…with ants

Even when they’re out of sight and out of mind, ants carry on with their important work.


What’s this snake?

The fascinating sound of the order Orthoptera

Martha’s Vineyard enjoys a seasonal serenade from members of an insect order commonly identified as crickets.

Answers from the Wild Side

Should we be rooting for black snakes? And what about this bug stuff that looks like jewelry?

Let us prey

Why choose venomous victuals when you could sup on a butterfly?

On to next year

The standard division of a year into four seasons is a mighty coarse approximation. Shifts of light, air, and growth as the earth’s orbit...

Answers from the Wild Side

What’s this spotted bug?

Thriving on the bare minimum

In nature, no niche goes unoccupied for long: even nothing is something, for the right creature.

Answers from the Wild Side: Is this a Black Widow?

Black widows generally are famous as the most venomous spiders in North America, one of very few arthropods on the continent that is capable of killing a human being. Being small spiders, they can inject only a tiny quantity of venom. But the venom is incredibly potent...

Blinded by bias

Better still, I began to get a sense for the entire family: what conditions its members like, what characteristics mark the family itself or help you sort out its members. In short, I learned something! I find this fun.

It’s a seven-spotted Ladybug

It is now widely established — so widely, in fact, that it may be out-competing many of our native ladybugs, such as the two-spotted ladybug that is the official state insect of Massachusetts. (I bet you didn’t even know we had a state insect!)

Answers about plants

I could go on for weeks about the various approaches plants take to make adversity less adverse. Here are just a few examples to illustrate how creative evolution has been.

Bees and wasps: maligned but magnificent

To be sure, there are a few species of each that are irritable enough to make awkward neighbors. The so-called social bees and wasps, that is, the species that live in large colonies and build elaborate nests, certainly will sting in defense of their homes. (Wouldn’t you?)

Answers from the Wild side

Why do moths come to lights?

A highly evolved butterfly

The Vineyard supports good numbers of bog coppers, but this unique butterfly depends on keeping local bogs healthy.