Katherine brought this strange looking leaf today, wondering what it is. How serendipitous. Only yesterday I did a fair amount of research on galls - specifically oak galls. Most oak galls are created by tiny parasitic wasps that lay their egg in the leaf or acorn of the oak tree. The larvae secretes chemicals that cause the oak to create the gall. There are as many types of galls as their are parasitic wasps. In North America, there are over 800 species which parasitize not just oaks but many other plant species. The gall serves as a shelter for the larvae before it changes into the adult wasp. It also serves as food. But, as you will see in the video, sometimes it is also a prison.
The excitement just doesn't seem to stop around here! Zadan found a hatchling Brown snake (also known as a DeKay brown snake) inside the school today by the nest and Quinn captured it unhurt with the help of Ms. Jane. The excited crowd came running upstairs, gathering more people in their wake to present the tiny snake to the science department. We identified it as a baby brown snake. These are not very big snakes and grow from about 23 cm to 58 cm. They eat slugs, snails and worms, and will also eat grubs. They typically live under the leaf litter. Snakes are ectothermic, which means that they rely on their surroundings to control their body temperature. As the temperatures outside get cooler, you can imagine that the nice warm school would be a good place to warm up. The only problem is that they can get stepped on - one of the many reasons why baby brown snakes do not survive to adulthood. We'll see if we can get it to eat while it stays with us, but we won't keep it. Great find!!
The 4/5 boys told me all about the large praying mantis they found in field today during recess. This is one I wished I could see, because I've never seen a praying mantis in the wild. I'm including a stock photo, but there are a few species of praying mantis, so I may not have the correct one. Hopefully we'll be able to capture it next time so everyone can see it.
I'm not the best person to tell this tale, because I came into school after all the excitement. When I walked into Ms. McCulley's class, she mischievously told me that she had a surprise for me. Apparently, this little guy was found in the downstairs copy room and caused some great excitement. Ann caught the little thing and brought it upstairs to the science department (you don't know how much I love that you all do this!) and Ms. McCulley and the very excited students went about identifying the little rodent. Turns out it's a shrew - and a little one at that. We suspect that with all the building going on, an opening was made by the workers that allowed it to get in.
By the time I arrived, they had already discovered that a shrew eats 80-90% of it's body weight daily, which it amply demonstrated when it wolfed down abut 10 meal worms. If you go to the Wikipedia link, you'll find out some other interesting facts about this mammal - for instance, it has 10 litters of
We've had so many wonderful discoveries of late, that it's been difficult to keep up! Andrew's dad, Dan, found newly hatched snapping turtles marching down to Dunn's Marsh and brought a box full of them for the lucky kids at After School Study club to see. I went back with him to the site and found 3 nests that had recently hatched. We could tell by all the empty eggs. We decided to help the little one's make the trek back to the marsh by collecting them up and delivering them to a small inlet to the marsh.
We decided to keep two of them for the habitat the Intermediates are building for their habitat studies. If you're interested in learning more about snapping turtles, go to this website.