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October 06, 2021

Galium Sphinx Caterpillar with Tachinid Eggs

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 66°F, cloudy, and calm at 1:30 PM on October 6, 2021.
  • There were hints of color in the leaves and smells of Fall in the air.
  • Spring peepers and katydids were still calling. Mosquitos were still biting.
  • This week's trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.

The Trails

  • Blue sky appeared for but a moment over the fields by Gifford House. A call came from the top of a snag along the drive to the Carriage House.
  • It was of a red-bellied woodpecker. It too was soon gone.
  • A Galium sphinx caterpillar was crossing the drive. The little white ovals were eggs from probably a tachinid fly - the hatchlings would consume the caterpillar from the inside.
  • From the trailhead, the first serious splash of autumn color could be seen just ahead.
  • On the thistles in the foreground, a ladybug prepared to take off. Actually a beetle, only its hindwings are used for flight; the forewings have been thickened into protecive elytra - the familiar, often colorful "shell" of a beetle.
  • Off to the side was a weathered stalk of common milkweed pods.
  • A group of small milkweed bugs (actually "true bugs") was feeding on the seeds within.
  • Closer examination of the colorful tree presented a puzzle: the compound leaves were hardly familiar looking.
  • The presence of samaras or "keys" insisted it was a maple. But even they were unusual: they were hairy.
  • If that weren't enough, the thin, exfoliating bark was unlike that of any familiar maple. Indeed, a little web research pointed to three-flowered maple native to China and Korea.
  • At the corner of the field, familiar hickory spread over the trail.
  • It looked like a good year for hickory nuts.
  • The husks split readily and the nuts aren't too hard to crack.
  • In the back of the field, black walnuts were a different story.
  • These husks are messy and the nuts are very hard.
  • Up ahead on the Sedge Meadow Trail, invasive burningbush was turning pink and something was turning orange behind it.
  • It was our native poison ivy.
  • A little color was popping up in the Sedge Meadow proper.
  • Cinnamon fern was in the foreground.
  • In the background, maples were joining in.
  • Farther along the path, puffballs were waiting to be stepped on to puff their spores out.
  • Right next to them was a second crop on the side of tree.
  • Out in the back Old Hayfield, heal-all or selfheal was one of the few flowers that still looked fresh.
  • Wild basil was keeping up appearances too.
  • It's always curious to find winterberry in the Old Pasture.
  • The Wappinger Creek was full - of course it had rained earlier this week.
  • Down the hill and along the trail, mushrooms were growing off the side of a maple.
  • A little farther along were the usually velvety - but today soggy - brown mushrooms.
  • As the trail went lower into the floodplain, the Creek calmed down. Leaves were only beginning to think about yellow.
  • Here, invasive Japanese stilt grass was all along the path and starting to go to seed. Socks, shoes, pants, pets... all can carry seeds to start new colonies.
  • Across from the bench at Trail Marker 10, witch's butter had grown just a little more than the week before.
  • After a week, the neighboring mushrooms weren't looking as fresh as last week.
  • Next week: the Cary Pines Trail the side of the trail system.


  • 2 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 2 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 3 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • 2 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 2 Cabbage White
  • 1 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Galium sphinx
  • 1 Small milkweed bug