Originally published in Lathrop Lamp Post Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2017
Soon, plants will be removed from a small area near the Inn, adjacent to Disabled Parking. Then, on September 18, native plants will be installed. At 10:30 a.m., residents of both campuses are invited to that area for refreshments, a short ceremony, and an explanation by our landscape designer, Owen Wormser. Residents may dig in some native plant plugs. Professional staff will do the rest.
The East Campus Residents’ Association, the Land Conservation Committee, and Lathrop are contributing to the project.
First published in Lathrop Lamp Post August 17, 2017
This fawn, recently photographed by resident Doris Atkinson on the east campus, is moving about with its mother, still nursing, but learning, among other things, the communication skills it will need as an adult.
Communication began at birth in May. A loud bleat meant “Mom, where are you?” and a soft nursing murmur meant, “Mmm, this is good.” By lying perfectly still, and having almost no body odor, our spotted fawn communicated to our coyotes and bobcats, “Fawn? What fawn? There’s nobody here–just dappled shade.”
But now that our fawn is up and about, it must learn to communicate within a complex social unit consisting of related females, their fawns and yearlings, and adult males, all of which have contiguous or Continue reading Lathrop’s Deer: A Complex Society→
Originally published in Lathrop Lamp Post, Aug. 3, 2017.
Summer music camps for kids are in full swing now, and Tanglewood is featuring its Young Concert Artists’ Series. At Lathrop, our coyote youngsters are also starting to perform in evening or pre-dawn concerts.
The young performers will have been born in April or May, in a burrow dug by their mother under a fallen tree or in a thicket. The den might be up to 15 feet deep and a foot or two wide. Careful moms will have made several dens so the kids can be moved from one to the other to avoid detection and keep down parasites. Not a bad excavation achievement for a critter weighing 20 or 30 pounds, with only her feet as tools.
(Originally printed in Lathrop Lamp Post July 20, 2017)
Butterflies are not as numerous as we remember from our childhoods, but numbers of them still visit our Lathrop gardens and meadows. This eastern black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) was sipping nectar from a native blazing star (Liatris spicata) in Sharon’s and my front cottage garden.
Butterflies may sip nectar from a variety of flowers, both native and alien. This eastern black swallowtail, says my butterfly book, will even sip from purple loosestrife, a horrible invasive that has made thousands of acres of wetland inhospitable to most wildlife. Continue reading Picky Eaters at Lathrop→
(Originally printed in Lathrop Lamp Post July 27, 2017)
If you walk our meadows these days, it might look as though a host of different butterflies–fritillaries, monarchs, swallowtails, blues, crescents–are flitting around a host of different flowers–black-eyed susans, Joe Pye weed, goldenrod, purple coneflower, blue vervain, and daisy fleabane–all in a whirling riot of color and flight.
But these butterflies and plants will pair up when it comes time for the butterflies to lay the eggs that will hatch into caterpillars. Then “host” will have a very specific meaning.
A plant is said to “host” a butterfly not merely when the butterfly sips its nectar, but when the butterfly can lay its eggs on the plant, and the hatching larvae (caterpillars) can eat the plant. Plants develop chemicals that repel eaters, and co-evolving caterpillars develop ways to overcome the defenses, usually only the defenses of Continue reading Hosts at Lathrop→
(Originally published in Lathrop Lamp Post, June 10-16, 2017)
I’m not talking about humans. In fact, Lathrop has recently joined with other Valley residents to help welcome immigrants fleeing danger and oppression in other countries.
But illegal alien PLANTS are a different story. Some alien plants, having left behind the enemies and competitors that control them in their native lands, have overtaken woods and fields throughout the U.S., and have shoved out our native plants. This is bad because these aliens did not co-evolve with our native wildlife, so they do not as fully provide the food and cover that our native birds and other wildlife need. Because these plants threaten our native plants and wildlife, many states, including Massachusetts, have declared certain alien invasive plants illegal to sell or propagate.
For example, Lathrop’s landscaping has many (now illegal) burning bushes, also called winged euonymus (Euonymus alatus). Their seeds are sprouting in our woods on both campuses. This internet photo shows a woods taken over by winged euonymus. The second photo shows winged euonymus coming into our Lathrop woods in 2014. Since then, the Land Conservation Committee, with grants, resident donations, and thousands of hours by resident volunteers and by our Continue reading Illegal Aliens at Lathrop→
(Originally printed in Lathrop Lamp Post May 27 – Jun 2, 2017)
If you walk along the edges of one of our Lathrop streams or ponds these days, frogs may plop into the water at your approach. You may hear the “jug-a-rum” of the American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianos) or the “gunk” of the green frog (Lithobates clamatans), like this one found by several residents who were pulling invasive plants near the east campus Teaberry pond.
You can tell our frog is a green frog by its greenish color and by the ridges that run down each side of its back. You can tell our Teaberry frog is a male because its tympanum or eardrum, located just behind the eye, is larger than the eye. At this time of the year, our male is probably defending the pond as his territory. He mates between April and August, clasping his lady love from behind, and fertilizing her thousands of eggs as she lays them in the pond water.