Outdoors


TRR photos by Sandy Long

The white tussock hickory moth caterpillar is not the demon it’s sometimes perceived to be. 

Maligned and misunderstood

When it comes to our knowledge of the natural world, what we don’t know (or what we have been misinformed about via social media or exaggerated claims often fueled by fear) can cause harm. These misunderstandings sometimes lead to unfortunate outcomes for the targeted species.


Timber rattlesnakes are one of the two venomous snakes found in the region, and they can blend in well to their surroundings. Fortunately for us, they will only strike as a last resort and will usually rattle as a warning. When hiking or working in known rattlesnake habitat, keep an eye to the ground and flip any objects like planks of wood, etc., so that any critter can escape away from you.

Herps: masters of disguise

You’ve probably walked on a forest path or even a secondary road this summer in the morning when it was still cool and spotted bright red or orange newts on the trail or roadway. These are the commonly found red efts, or the immature stage of the red-spotted newt. Almost a florescent orange, they look as if they want to be found.

Summers at the River Edge

The Old Man phoned that day. He called me “ToTo.” I don’t know why, but hope it was out of some semblance of affection. He could be warm and charming at times, more often, short tempered and difficult. Probably related to his constant hip pain, medicated with various whiskies.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

This periodical cicada was photographed in 2013 and was one of the new generation of Brood II that emerged in substantial numbers that year, particularly in Staten Island, NY. There are 12 broods in the eastern half of the United States that have a 17-year life cycle and three that mature every 13 years. Thirteen-year broods live mostly in the south, and 17-year broods live primarily in the north. Visit magicicada.org/magicicada/general_information to learn more about periodical cicadas. 

Cicadas: summer singers

Forests of the Upper Delaware River region are currently filled with the sounds of summer insects. I enjoy hearing them signal the rising heat of the day, or falling asleep with the windows open as the mesmerizing calls bring the night alive.

Corn plot variety demo

COCHECTON, NY — There will be a corn plot variety demonstration held across from Cochecton Mills Inc. (30 Depot Rd.) on August 31 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will feature 14 different corn varieties, and representatives from both Cochecton Mills Inc.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This is one of several monarch butterflies seen at Shohola Marsh on a day in early August. Most of them were feeding on nectar from the many wildflowers along the access roads. Although I saw lots of milkweed, most of the feeding damage I observed was from milkweed tussock caterpillars, not monarch caterpillars.

A few more monarchs around this summer

I have been seeing something this summer that, for the most part, has been missing during the last few summers. The once plentiful monarch butterfly, which I did not see in the wild, or saw only one or two a year, has become easier to spot this year.

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