I thought the warm summer months flew by fast, but to me, nothing like October. And with the first noticeable frost at our place on the 28th, it was a long, almost "Indian Summer" month, with our flower gardens still fresh and bright for the most part.
Bird migrations were about as usual with the exception of waterfowl. From my observations and a comment from Dave St. James, I conclude waterfowl (ducks, geese and the like) have mostly stayed put. I imagine by the time this arrives to you in print, things will have changed, and our lakes will become "motels" for migrating ducks and other waterfowl, both those that dabble about fresh-water ponds and dive in salt-water bays and open ocean.
Let's hope so; this Sunday the 67th central Berkshire waterfowl census, now named after its founder and local birder, Bartlett Hendricks, will meet at 7 a.m. in front of the Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, and carpool to nearby lakes and wetlands, led by Tom Tyning (413-236-4502, email@example.com) The trip ends around 3 p.m.; bring lunch, binoculars and a scope if you have one.
Q: With so much said concerning the wooly bear, I have heard nothing about the white one, with a few long black-colored hairs. I saw several of these caterpillars crossing a road near my house, the first couple weeks of October. Is it another kind of wooly bear, or something completely different?
A: You are probably referring to the caterpillar that will become a 2-inch grayish moth with darker markings, called the American dagger moth. It sounds like you encountered older specimens as younger individuals are yellowish. The hairs are called setae, by the way. The young caterpillar is densely covered with yellow setae. The older caterpillar's setae are either pale yellow or white. Both have the black setae, usually four nearer the front and a black tuft near the rear.
Unlike the wooly bear, persons finding these caterpillars should not handle them; the hollow setae are apt to break off into the skin of your hand, causing a rash. The dagger moth and woolly bear are not closely relate nor easily confused. On the other hand, I imagine that people discovering caterpillars that otherwise resemble a woolly bear, except for yellow cetae (longer than the true woolly bear's), have encountered another tiger moth, the yellow wooly bear, that will become the Virginia tiger moth. The woolly bear becomes an Isabella tiger moth, and unless we get warmer weather, their migration will be mostly over for the year.
Questions and comments for Thom Smith: Email Naturewatch@live.com
Published Nov. 1, 2013