Category Archives: Nature: plant and animal identification

Horned Squash Bug In Maryland Garden

I found these horned squash bugs Anasa armigera feeding on my squash and zucchini plants in June. They look similar to leaf-footed bugs but horned squash bugs have two small horns at the base of each antenna that leaf-footed bugs do not have. I hand pick them off or let one of my chickens do it for me.

They can be quite prolific.

Rough Green Snake Opheodrys aestivus in Maryland

Here is a rough green snake we found near our house in Southern Maryland. The Kids and I enjoyed holding this beautiful snake.

The smooth green snake Opheodrys vernalis looks very similar to the rough green snake but if you look closely, the rough green snake Opheodrys aestivus has keeled scales on top. Note the line running down the middle of the scales in the picture.

Our property is near a marsh and has plenty of bushes and trees so it is a great place for this snake.

It is a good climber as you can see in this photo.

The rough green snake is a fun snake for kids to hold because they are so docile. Teach children to be gentle when handling because even the nicest animal will try to bit if it is being hurt.

You can guess what this is. To deter possible predators, snakes will release a foul-smelling substance. Skunks aren’t the only ones to use smell as a deterrent.

Yes, it did stink on us.

Spadefoot Toad Found After Hurricane

Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii)

Look what my daughters found for me when we were cleaning up after Hurricane Irene: a spadefoot toad. I know that I featured this species before but wanted to include it in this year’s posts.

I love the fingers and the webbed feet on this critter.

I’m running out of time to find reptiles and amphibians on my property this year. Next year I think I’ll focus on trees instead. So much nature to explore!

Southern Maryland Reptiles and Amphibians: Male Broad-headed Skink

This broad-headed skink (Plestiodon laticeps)  is a male. It is non venomous. Males of this species are easy to identify because their head will turn bright orange during their breeding season. Also, if you compared the head size of a male and a female with similar sized bodies, the head of the male would be larger.

My daughter discovered this guy just outside our house.

Southern Maryland Reptiles and Amphibians: Broad-headed Skink

This is a broad-headed skink that I found recently. Time to look for lizards!

The female broad-headed skink (Plestiodon laticeps) looks similar to the five-lined skink (Plestidon fasciatus). Both have a blue tail when young; the adult females might have a blue tail as well. To distinguish the two species apart, you must look closely at the scales on the upper lip.

A broad-headed skink (Plestiodon laticeps) has 5 scales on its upper lip from the nostril to the corner of its eye. The five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) had four scales.