Category Archives: Nature: plant and animal identification

Japanese beetles In My Maryland Garden

Japanese beetles Popillia japonica are native to Japan. They skeletonize the leaves of many of the plants in my gardens. Even if you are not a gardener, surely you have seen them before. For, they are ubiquitous.

This is Japanese beetle damage on my edamame plants.

Japanese beetles are really quite cool looking. I love the metallic green of its head and thorax. I’d really like these beetles if they didn’t much so heavily on my apple tree (and so many other plants).

This picture shows relative size.

I combat them by hand picking them off in the mornings when they are slower moving. I then feed them to my chickens; that snatch them up. If I don’t get them off in the morning, then I capture them in a jar that I keep handy. (I do this because the beetles will often fly away before the chickens can gobble them down.)

Mating Japanese beetles.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs In My House In Maryland

Over the past few winters, I’ve been finding increasing numbers of stink bugs coming in my Maryland home. The stink bug that I see almost exclusively is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). This stink bug is not native to Maryland or even the US. It is native to China, Japan and surrounding countries. The BMSB (Halyomorpha halys) is an agricultural pest. Its exploding population is a threat to our food production which if numbers can’t be controlled, will make the price of many fruits and vegetables rise considerably.

Learn more about this invasive species here.

Know the difference between this non-native species and our native stink bugs.

Many of our native stink bugs look similar to the BMSB. To be sure you found a BMSB, look at the antennae and around the perimeter of their back:

The antennae have alternating dark and light bands and when looking from the top, you will see dark and light banding along the edges of the abdomen. See photos.

Fowler’s Toad Found In MD Yard

Fowler’s Toads (Bufo fowleri) are difficult to tell apart from Eastern American Toads (both can be found in Maryland). One difference is that a Fowler’s toad never has a spotted belly. Its ventral surface (belly) is usually whitish and without spots aside from the dark spot in the throat area.

Also, Fowler’s Toads have three or more warts in each of the largest dark spots.

This Fowler’s toad was another species I recorded for the Maryland Amphibians and Reptiles Atlas (MARA) for 2011.

Male Eastern Box Turtle in MD

I spotted this Eastern box turtle (Terrapene Carolina) near my blueberry bushes this past summer. I presume he was looking for some of the fallen fruit to eat.

I know it is a male because of the depression in his bottom shell (called a plastron). This depression is not present on all box turtle males however. (But if you see this depression, it is a male.)

This box turtle was another species I recorded for the Maryland Amphibians and Reptiles Atlas (MARA).

I hope you too continue to learn about Maryland reptiles and amphibians!

Decorative Swags Made With The Sweet Little Pinecones Of Hemlock Trees

Finding and gathering the pine cones is half the fun of this project.

This is what a Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis) plant looks like. It is native to some parts of Maryland, as well as, much of New England.

I collected these during a visit to NH.

These are simple to make. Tie the pinecones to a string one at a time; working your way along the string.

I don’t think I captured just how cute these swags are but I think you get the idea.