Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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Wild Side: Butterfly milkweed

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If there is a particular plant worthy of being named the Vineyard’s National Wildflower, it is surely butterfly milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa. It’s a plant everyone on the Vineyard has seen, and it’s one that...

Garden Notes: Pollination

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Bats and fireflies at dusk mean glorious high summer. Butterflies, lovers of sunlit places and warmth, are more numerous and noticeable now, especially the larger and more spectacular species. Hot and steamy days have arrived...

Wild Side: East Coast grasshoppers

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As interesting as I find grasshoppers to be, I have to admit that as a group, these are not particularly colorful insects. In keeping with the benefits of staying hidden while perched on stems...

Garden Notes: Heat on our minds

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We are lucky to be here. The Western part of North America baked in deadly, incendiary heat as the holiday weekend neared, with the death toll climbing into the high hundreds. On the Vineyard...

Wild Side: How long will it stay?

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The past couple of weeks have been fine ones for me, replete with interesting wildlife sightings and opportunities to explore new or inaccessible areas. It’s hard to pick one single discovery as the high...

Garden Notes: Pruning after blooming

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Gardeners are thrilled. This spring, the dazzling bloom on flowering plants and shrubs has been the best kind of gratification; fantastic really, and it is not finished yet. Late rhododendrons are still colorful, specimen...

Wild Side: Leafhoppers

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Insects are currently enjoying a moment of mostly positive media attention, thanks to the remarkable mass emergence of periodical cicadas in parts of the Eastern United States. As a bug-lover, I’m delighted to see...

Garden Notes: Loving the Rain

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We have gone neon green, and every other color too. Late spring is beloved for the peony, iris, poppy, and rose display. Is there anyone who whines, “Noooo, I don’t like this”? After a lengthy...

Wild Side: Breeding birds

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As the month of May winds down, the bird breeding season peaks. Here’s a report on the nesting activity in and around our yard in Oak Bluffs. The yard is a modest one, a scant...

Garden Notes: True colors

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For those of us privileged to have gardens or a patch to grow, gardens are our windows into a world of existences that put our own into perspective. Like the greater world, gardens are...

Wild Side: Dung flies

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In the natural world, everything is a resource. Even the most trivial or improbable niche has its occupier. Perhaps the most glaring example of this principle would be astonishing fecundity of life supported by...

Garden Notes: Waking up

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The perfume of May seems to be saying, “Wake up, you sleepy insects!” Early irises are blooming, and everyone is astonished apparently by the flowering lilacs across the Island. The May transformation is here,...

Wild Side: Elegant field sparrows

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I have a weakness for sparrows, those “little brown jobs” that are the bane of beginning birders due to their apparent absence of any real field marks. With practice, sparrows actually turn out to...

Garden Notes: Mulch wisely, and eschew volcanoes

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The amount of sunlight makes 6 am a real pleasure. Cells of everything in the Northern Hemisphere surge in response, and leaves unfurl before our eyes. Unruly, chilly weather — those snowflakes! — comes...

Wild Side: Mysterious fly

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As a student of insects, I spend a lot of time contemplating the daunting slopes of my personal Everest of ignorance. The class Insecta comprises 30 orders, roughly 1,000 families, and upward of a...

Garden Notes: Ideas for spring

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Woodpecker, mourning dove, and pinkletinks dominate the early morning stillness. Then the ‘thrumm’ of internal combustion engines and truck tires begins to compete, and the day begins. Island spring, despite being almost nonexistent by mainland...

Wild Side: Pygmy grasshoppers

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The most favorite of my many favorite insects is surely the crested pygmy grasshopper, Nomotettix cristatus. It’s probably the smallest Orthoptera occurring on Martha’s Vineyard, with adults ranging between a quarter and three-eighths of...

Garden Notes: Getting ready

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Grass, buds, twigs: everything with chlorophyll in it is becoming greener. The Passover full moon and gale last weekend were March’s grande finale. April showers will be welcome; three-plus inches March rainfall was okay,...

Wild Side: Killdeer plovers

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Three species of so-called “banded plovers” occur regularly on Martha’s Vineyard. Of these, the piping plover, an intensively managed species that nests in modest numbers on our beaches, gets all the press. And the...

Garden Notes: Think long-term

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Spring, beginning officially with the Vernal Equinox, March 20, is when outdoor activities resume. With that very much in mind, what better time to focus concern on our surroundings? Growing awareness  Growers and gardeners tend to...
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