05 de mayo de 2021

Vermont Lady Beetle BioBlitz

Did you know there are over 400 native lady beetle species in North America or that 35 of these species (at least) are found in Vermont?

Lady beetles are fascinating—they are cannibalistic, sometimes migratory, and certain species’ larvae can only be found in ant nests. Additionally, lady beetles are an important biological control, munching down aphids, plant mites, scales, and other small, herbivorous insects. Native lady beetles are particularly important to our ecosystems, fine-tuning their life cycles to synchronize with that of preferred prey species. Without our native lady beetles, the species they prey on may have population explosions, causing serious damage to host plants.

Unfortunately, native lady beetles are in decline across North America, likely due to land use change and the introduction of non-native lady beetle species. In Vermont, our native species seem to be following national trends. However, Vermont’s modern lady beetle fauna is poorly understood. Currently, twelve of our 35 native species have not been seen in over 40 years. Where did these species go? What do we need to do to help native lady beetles thrive?

In an effort to find answers to our questions about Vermont’s lady beetle fauna, the Vermont Atlas of Life team started the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas. As you might imagine, searching the entire state for tiny lady beetles is a monumental task. Therefore, we invite (and heartily encourage) you, our community naturalists, to join us in our search. Your participation greatly increases the probability of finding our long-lost beetles! Already, volunteer naturalists have rediscovered four of Vermont’s lost lady beetle species and recorded three new species. In our pilot year (2020) alone, community naturalists doubled the total number of research-grade lady beetle observations in iNaturalist.

Bigeminate Sigil Lady Beetle (Hyperaspis bigeminata) © Spencer Hardy

How many lady beetle species can you find?

Join us in June for the Vermont Lady Beetle BioBlitz!

We are holding a week-long Vermont Lady Beetle BioBlitz June 5 – 12, 2021 to concentrate our efforts on finding as many lady beetles as possible across the entire state. To participate, simply go outside and search everywhere for lady beetles (you never know where these little ones will show up), snap a few photos of every beetle you find, and upload your observations to iNaturalist. That’s it – so easy, and so much fun!

Lady beetles are swift, so it’s helpful to have an insect net and a clear glass container handy to hold the beetles in while taking photos. For more information on search methods, how to photograph beetles, and how to upload your observations to iNaturalist, see “Step 2: Collecting Data on a Site Survey” of the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas Participant Manual. Also, you’ll want to join the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas on iNaturalist and the Vermont Lady Beetle BioBlitz (follow the links, sign into iNaturalist, and click Join in the upper-right hand corner) to receive updates and stay involved!

Lady beetles begin to emerge from their overwintering locations (usually in leaf litter) between March and May, breed and lay their eggs soon after emerging, and remain active through the fall. This means that you can search for lady beetles from now until it gets cold again, contributing more important observations outside of the week-long BioBlitz.

Additionally, you can:

  • Upload incidental encounters of lady beetles to the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas on iNaturalist
  • Actively search sites for lady beetles and upload your encounters to the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas on iNaturalist
  • Adopt a Lady Beetle Survey Priority Block

Maybe you’ll find one of Vermont’s lost lady beetles, or even a new species never before recorded in the state. Visit the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas website to find out more ways to get involved and help conserve these fascinating beetles.

Spurleg Lady Beetles © Nathaniel Sharp

Anotado en mayo 05, miércoles 22:03 por jpupko jpupko | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de mayo de 2021

April 2021 Photo-observation of the Month

An underwater image of a North American Medicinal Leech feeding on Wood Frog eggs. © Erin Talmage

Congratulations to Erin Talmage for winning the April 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Erin’s image of a North American Medicinal Leech feeding on Wood Frog eggs in the
Birds of Vermont Museum’s pond garnered the most faves this month.

As surreal as this scene looks, predation of wood frog eggs by leeches is actually a relatively common occurrence! Because the egg masses of wood frogs and other frog species in the northeast lack the protective, gelatinous outer layer of spotted and jefferson salamander egg masses, they are more vulnerable to predation by a host of aquatic predators from leeches, to newts, to aquatic insects. While vernal pools are an attractive egg-laying site for many of Vermont’s amphibians due to their lack of fish predators, they are by no means a completely safe nursery for frog and salamander eggs, as evidenced by Erin’s amazing photograph. Wood Frogs combat this inevitable predation by laying an overwhelming number of eggs consisting of 800 to 2,000 embryos per egg mass, certainly more than any leech could eat in one sitting!

With nearly 12,805 observations submitted by 1,174 observers in April, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Anotado en mayo 04, martes 13:33 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de abril de 2021

Don't Forget to Fav Photos for the April Winner!

Cast your votes and be counted! You can 'fav' any observation that you like to vote for the Vermont Atlas of Life iNaturalist photo-observation of the month. Located to the right of the photographs and just below the location map is a star symbol. Click on this star and you've fav'ed an observation. At the end of each month, we'll see which photo-observation has the most favs and crown them the monthly winner. Check out awesome observations and click the star for those that shine for you. Vote early and often!

Check out who is in the lead and see a list of all of this month's photo-observations.

Anotado en abril 27, martes 14:29 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

21 de abril de 2021

Join the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas!

Did you know that there are 42 species of lady beetle that have been recorded in the state of Vermont? Of these species, 35 are native! Sadly, many native lady beetle species have been in decline across North America, thought to be caused by a combination of land use change and the introduction of non-native lady beetle species.

In Vermont, we do not have many data on Vermont's modern lady beetle fauna. Additionally, 12 of our native species have not been seen in over 40 years - are they extirpated (extinct) in Vermont, or do they still exist in small populations? The VAL team has started the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas and the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas on iNaturalist to answer these questions and more. Join us in our search!

How you can help:

Please reach out to Julia Pupko (jpupko@vtecostudies.org) or Kent McFarland (kmcfarland@vtecostudies.org) with any questions!

Anotado en abril 21, miércoles 15:46 por jpupko jpupko | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de abril de 2021

Join the West Virginia White Watch!

Spring is changing. The snow is melting earlier, wildflowers are blooming sooner, and trees are leafing out faster. How are West Virginia White butterflies faring? Help us monitor them. During spring, find a patch of rich, hardwood forest, count all the butterflies you find, and report them to eButterfly. Even if you don’t find any butterflies, zeros are important to report too! Can you break the early or late record for a West Virginia White sighting? Who will have the highest count? Can we find them in places they’ve never been recorded? We can’t wait to find out! Learn how at https://val.vtecostudies.org/missions/west-virginia-white-watch/

Anotado en abril 07, miércoles 17:51 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de marzo de 2021

March 2021 Photo-observation of the Month

A Northern Flying Squirrel digging seeds out of the snow beneath a bird feeder. © Charlotte Bill

Congratulations to Charlotte Bill for winning the March 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Charlotte’s image of a Northern Flying Squirrel foraging for fallen bird seed at her backyard feeder garnered the most faves this month. Click the image above to see more of Charlotte’s photos of this encounter!

The Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) is a primarily nocturnal species, and sightings of these adorable, big-eyed squirrels during the day are quite rare. Vermont is home to two very similar-looking flying squirrel species, the Northern and the Southern Flying Squirrel. Shortly after this observation was posted, mammal ID experts began to weigh in. They noted the reddish body fur (or pelage), particularly bushy tail, yellowish belly, and a dark stripe of fur on the side, all field marks identifying this as a Northern Flying Squirrel. This species is most likely to be found in mature woodlands, and is particularly sensitive to habitat fragmentation. While these squirrels can’t technically “fly”, the flaps of skin that stretch between their limbs allow them to glide distances of 50 feet or more. March marks the beginning of the mating season of Northern Flying Squirrels, so in all likelihood this particular squirrel is fueling up on seed to begin looking for a mate and starting the next generation of Northern Flying Squirrels. If you’d like to learn more about these fascinating, rarely seen mammals, check out @jpupko's article, Flighty Furballs, in the Field Guide to March .

With nearly 4,000 observations submitted by 493 observers in March, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Anotado en marzo 31, miércoles 22:47 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de marzo de 2021

The Vermont Wild Bee Survey is looking for help!

Join us for the next 8 months on a guided exploration of the wild bee fauna of the state. Each week from now until the last fall flowers have shriveled, we will be posting a mission to the new Vermont Wild Bee Survey project page: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/vermont-bee-atlas

These missions will help you target distinctive, rare, or otherwise interesting bees and help us map their distribution. We realize bee’s tiny size and mind-blowing diversity (>300 species in VT) is daunting, so we will strive to make these weekly missions straightforward and attainable. We’ll teach you how to find, identify, photograph and report the bees you find with just a point and shoot camera or a smartphone and no prior bee knowledge.

Observations generated by iNaturalist users, like yourself, are a major source of information that help us understand this important group of pollinators in Vermont. Last year alone, 525 iNaturalist users reported over 5,000 bee observations, comprising 104 confirmed species from across the state, including one only known in Vermont from iNaturalist observations.

Join our Vermont Wild Bee Atlas on iNaturalist and keep an eye out for the weekly blog posts each Friday.

While we patiently wait for warmer days and the first flowers, check out the new simplified guide to identifying Vermont’s bees on the Vermont Wild Bee Survey website: https://val.vtecostudies.org/projects/vtbees/all-genera/

Anotado en marzo 17, miércoles 15:03 por beeboy beeboy | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de marzo de 2021

Join the Green Mountain National Forest Telephone Gap BioBlitz

Calling all naturalists! From ant experts to moose watchers, the Green Mountain National Forest invites you to participate in a Telephone Gap BioBlitz. Now is the perfect time to get out in the Telephone Gap area and track animals or photograph woody twigs!

The Green Mountain National Forest’s Telephone Gap BioBlitz is now in its tenth month, with over 2264 observations of 719 species, reported by 135 observers! The variety of observations includes everything from wildflowers and trees to blue-green algae, mammals and birds, insects, and fungi, and most recently, animal tracks in winter.

Check it out in iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/gmnf-telephone-gap-bioblitz

As winter continues its frozen hold, this is the perfect time to document wildlife tracks of all sizes. It’s also a perfect time to photograph woody twigs in winter. Grab your camera, don your snowshoes, and explore some of the more remote areas away from roads and trailheads.

This a beautiful part of the Green Mountain National Forest, more diverse than we imagined, with substantial areas of old forest. Vermont Natural Heritage Inventory staff, collaborating with National Forest staff, indicate there are 28 significant natural communities to be mapped within the boundaries of the Telephone Gap BioBlitz. Wow! Come on out and join the fun!

Information packet:
https://usfs-public.app.box.com/s/keqnsbq16fpoh8xg5hzpugt0quryvdaa/file/673193658182

Maps and other downloadable supporting information:
https://usfs-public.app.box.com/s/keqnsbq16fpoh8xg5hzpugt0quryvdaa

OR, link to all this information from the BioBlitz summary page on the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests website:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gmfl/home/?cid=FSEPRD742756

Anotado en marzo 03, miércoles 19:29 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de marzo de 2021

February 2021 Photo-observation of the Month


A trio of North American River Otters ‘chilling’ on the ice. © Susan Elliott

Congratulations to Sue Elliott for winning the February 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Sue’s image of three North American River Otters spotted lounging, fittingly, on Otter Creek, garnered the most faves this month.

The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) is a semiaquatic mammal that is found in and along waterways and coasts. An adult river otter can weigh between 11 and 30 pounds. The North American River Otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent fur coat. In the 1800s and early 1900s, otters were over-harvested almost to the point of extirpation in many areas of their range. Due to pollution, habitat loss, and unregulated hunting and trapping, otter populations declined precipitously in the Northeast. Greater conservation efforts combined with closely monitored harvesting have allowed their populations to rebound to a healthy and stable size.


With nearly 1,950 observations submitted by 364 observers in February, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Anotado en marzo 01, lunes 17:47 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de febrero de 2021

January 2021 Photo-observation of the Month


A meshweaver spider in the genus Cicurina scurries across the winter snow. © Bryan Pfeiffer

Congratulations to Bryan Pfeiffer for winning the January 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Bryan's image of a spider in the genus Cicurina, also known as 'meshweavers', garnered the most faves by iNaturalist users.

Bryan noticed this spider walking across the snow near Turtlehead Pond in Marshfield and got up close and personal, noting the way "he was tapping his pedipalps (like a sewing machine) atop the snow". Spider experts weighed in on iNaturalist and narrowed this observation to the genus level, suggesting several possible species within this diverse genus that this individual could be. While one might be surprised to see a spider, or any arthropod for that matter, out and about on a snowy winter day, there are many critters, from Snow Scorpionflies to Small Winter Stoneflies, that are active and above-ground even in the dead of winter.


With nearly 2,337 observations submitted by 271 observers in January, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Anotado en febrero 01, lunes 19:38 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario