Francie Von Mertens en What Are Japanese Beetles Good For? <p>Mid-summer brings Japanese beetles to the garden, clustering on their favorite foods: the leaves of raspberry, grape, and garden roses. In the vegetable garden, the lead shoots of pole beans are another tasty target. I know gardeners who find a daily ritual of flicking beetles into a container with water and a drop of liquid soap to be very therapeutic. Beetle demise is quick. These are people who typically release indoor spiders and wasps to the outdoors, but damage to the garden is another matter.&nbsp;</p> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:00:01 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 51092 at What Are Japanese Beetles Good For? A Salute To Bobolinks & Henry David Thoreau <p>A tumbling jumble of bird song from across the field announces the presence of <a href="" target="_blank">bobolinks</a>. In his journals, <a href="" target="_blank">Henry David Thoreau</a> quoted a Cape Cod child who asked:</p><p>"What makes he sing so sweet, Mother? Do he eat flowers?"</p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:00:27 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 50984 at A Salute To Bobolinks & Henry David Thoreau Vernal Equinox Means Equal Night <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="420"></iframe></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Vernal Equinox has arrived!&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">For one brief moment, everywhere on planet Earth, day and night are equal: 12 hours from sunrise to sunset and sunset to sunrise.</span></p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The length of daylight compared to dark, is known as </span>photoperiod<span style="line-height: 1.5;">. </span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Seasonal changes in </span>photoperiod<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp; trigger a lot of changes in plants and animals.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Many plants are known as short-day species; they flower after the summer solstice when days are getting shorter.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Plants that bloom in spring are known as long-day species.</span></p><p></p><p> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 04:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 44935 at Vernal Equinox Means Equal Night The Common Junco And Its Uncommon History <p>A huge question in evolutionary biology is the very basic one: How do species form?&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">It turns out that the Dark-eyed Junco, one of the most common birds at winter </span>feeders<span style="line-height: 1.5;">, is providing a &nbsp;clear picture of that process.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">First, a quick review of what defines a species:</span></p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 05:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 43873 at The Common Junco And Its Uncommon History The Truth About Coy-Dogs <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">It's the height of eastern coyote courtship, and </span><a href="" style="line-height: 1.5;" target="_blank">a pair can really yip it up</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Coyote sightings, as well as the sounds of coyotes often sparks talk of <a href="" target="_blank">coy-dogs</a>.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Is there such a thing?</span></p><p>Yes. And no.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Yes, domestic dog and coyote hybrids are biologically possible and have occurred;&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">but no genetic sampling of coyotes has found evidence of domestic dog.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Coy-dogs don't survive, and here's why.</span></p><p> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 05:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 42706 at The Truth About Coy-Dogs Creatures In The Night <p>Wildlife tracks in the snow indicate of a lot of coming and going in the nighttime world.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Why are so many animals active, given their limited ability to see in the dark?</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">There's the obvious reason: division of resources helps avoid competition.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A red-tailed hawk hunts the same fields by day that a great horned owl hunts by night.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Night also offers some animals protection from their main predators.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Mice lie low by day, but in the wild—and in my house—they come out at night.</span></p><p></p><p> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 05:07:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 42697 at Creatures In The Night A Snowy Invasion <p>This year is being referred to as an "<a href="" target="_blank">invasion year</a>" for snowy owls, and it might be one for the <a href="" target="_blank">record books</a>. &nbsp;</p><p>Most of the snowy owl sightings have been along the coast where a flat, open landscape resembles their native tundra. Reports from New Hampshire birders include sightings of up to nine in a single day. On Nantucket, the annual <a href="" target="_blank">Christmas Bird Count</a> found 33, far surpassing the previous count record of four.</p><p> Fri, 24 Jan 2014 05:00:01 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 42310 at A Snowy Invasion NH Has Got Stones! <p>Winter's transparent landscape offers a great opportunity for boulder appreciation. And&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">New Hampshire has a lot of big ones, d</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">eposited by glacier action over 10,000 years ago. As the ice sheet advanced south, at it's glacial pace, it fractured and plucked many large boulders rights off mountain tops.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">When the glacier eventually receded, it left behind billions of these "glacial boulders."&nbsp;</span></p><p></p> Fri, 10 Jan 2014 05:26:00 +0000 Chris Martin, Francie Von Mertens & Andrew Parrella 41478 at NH Has Got Stones! State Fern Nominee? <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>New Hampshire's a state insect, the ladybug was nominated by persuasive Concord fifth graders;&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">the pumpkin is&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">our state fruit courtesy of some persuasive </span>Harrisville<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> third and fourth graders.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">I'd like to plant a seed—or perhaps a spore—for nomination of rock </span>polypody<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> as our state fern. Fri, 27 Dec 2013 05:46:00 +0000 Chris Martin, Francie Von Mertens & Andrew Parrella 40651 at State Fern Nominee? Forest Succession <p>"Forest succession" is a pattern of plant regeneration that begins when a plot of land is left to its own devices. The first phase of this succession is bare soil or an abandoned field. And nature, over the span of decades, converts the area through several stages to mature forest – if left undisturbed.</p><p></p> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 05:18:00 +0000 Chris Martin, Francie Von Mertens & Andrew Parrella 39870 at Forest Succession The World Runs on Grass <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Grass doesn't get a lot of appreciation aside from lawns and hayfields, but grasses play an essential role in ecosystem health. When soil is disturbed by hurricane, fire or logging, grasses take quick advantage of. Dormant seeds awaiting the right conditions sprout and up come the grasses.</span></p> Fri, 29 Nov 2013 05:10:00 +0000 Chris Martin, Francie Von Mertens & Andrew Parrella 39073 at The World Runs on Grass Fewer Exotic Birds in NH This Winter <p>Fall migration has wrapped up for all but a few bird species. This semi-annual rite of passage typically follows predictable timetables and geographic routes. Exceptions to the rule, "irruptive" species, are northerners that head this way certain winters, driven out of their home territories by food scarcity.</p><p></p> Fri, 15 Nov 2013 05:54:00 +0000 Chris Martin, Francie Von Mertens & Andrew Parrella 38474 at Fewer Exotic Birds in NH This Winter Beauty In The November Grays <p>Robert Frost ended a short poem on life and nature with the line, "<a href="" target="_blank">Nothing gold can stay</a>." October has ended after delivering golden fall days that make us regret the indoor tendencies of our lives. Stark November is at the doorstep now. We reacquaint ourselves with ridge-lines visible through bare trees and with stone walls along fields cleared and worked in a time when days were spent more outdoors than in.&nbsp;</p> Thu, 31 Oct 2013 04:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 37647 at Beauty In The November Grays The Turkey Vulture <p>October 18 is the Full Hunter&#39;s Moon, and heading south now are hunters of a different sort: turkey vultures, scavengers that feed on carrion.</p><p></p> Fri, 18 Oct 2013 04:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 36923 at The Turkey Vulture Where Have All The Monarchs Gone? <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A lot of people are asking this question, concerned at the diminished numbers&nbsp;of this most charismatic butterfly. &nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Not many schoolchildren this fall will be able to watch caterpillar transform into chrysalis and then glorious adult—metamorphosis in action.</span></p><p></p> Fri, 20 Sep 2013 04:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 34759 at Where Have All The Monarchs Gone?