Of Dewdrops and Spider Webs

The Outside Story

On a foggy morning walk, it may seem as if the spider webs on your path have turned into jeweled wonders, every thread a string of gems as smooth as pearls and as sparkling as diamonds. Each of these “jewels” is a drop of water the web has collected from the misty air. As with many beautiful natural phenomena, dew […]

Sharing the Magic of Gardening with Children

Spring is in the air, and what better way to celebrate a return to gardening than to share its magic with children? It’s not too early to start planning now. Consider dedicating a small piece of the garden this summer as a spot where the kids in your life can experience the magic of gardening firsthand. To keep things simple, […]

How To Rescue a Baby Bird—And When To Leave it Alone

The Outside Story

This is the time of year when my yard feels bursting with life, as the neighborhood welcomes eastern phoebes, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and broad-winged hawks back from their long migrations. At the Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, where I work, “baby bird season” is also underway. The dedicated rehabilitation staff will spend the next […]

The Early Bird Gets the Jumping Worm

The Outside Story

We’ve all heard the idiom, “The early bird gets the worm.” When it comes to invasive jumping worms, unfortunately, there are more than enough to go around. These invasive worms can consume excessive amounts of organic matter and leaf litter in a garden or forest, to the point that it becomes uninhabitable to native plants and wildlife. This may sound […]

Meet the Chestnut-Sided Warbler

The Outside Story

While planting the vegetable garden last May, I heard a repeated bird song emanating from the adjacent raspberry patch: “Pleased, pleased, pleased to MEETCHA.” Finally, the small songster perched near the tip of a raspberry cane, its tail cocked. The bird’s yellow crown, black mask, olive back with black streaks, and white breast with rusty side patches were clearly visible—the […]

Spring’s Perfect for a Little Outdoor Detective Work

Vermont’s History Seen Clearly Through Marks Left in Landscape

April and May are perfect months for doing outside detective work. There’s not a better time to get out on the land and explore. So much can be seen before the vegetation and underbrush become thick and restrictive. Our land has a rich history and there are many clues that can help us piece together a picture of the past […]

Growing Basil for Eating, Preserving

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an easy-to-grow annual herb that thrives in Vermont summers and has several culinary uses. Many varieties are readily available. Plant some in your garden this summer to enjoy year-round. Plant basil seeds directly in the garden after all danger of frost has passed and water thoroughly. Enrich the soil before planting with compost. The seeds will […]

Communities Need To Plan for Emerald Ash Borer Now

The week of May 22-28 has been designated National Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week to help increase public awareness of this tree-killing beetle and the damage it can cause to all species of native ash trees within the Fraxinus genus. The emerald ash borer (EAB), a native of southeast Asia, was first detected in Michigan in 2002. It was initially […]

Queen Season: Bumble Bees in Spring

The Outside Story

Hear ye, hear ye! The queens have emerged! We’re talking about bumble bees (genus Bombus). For several weeks each spring, any bumble bee you see is a queen— and very hard at work. She must construct her kingdom. Her mother (the previous queen), and most of her siblings will have perished. Unlike honey bees, bumble bees cannot overwinter as an […]

The Carpenters Arrive in Spring

The Outside Story

Why do ants suddenly appear every time spring is near? Just like bees, they long to be close to you—especially if your home is made of wood. Carpenter ants (genus Camponotus) and the eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) both nest in wood and are frequent visitors to my log home. The Northeast is home to one native carpenter bee species […]

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