“Bugging” the Dog Days of Summer


“…a day birding is never wasted. There’s always something to see and photograph.” Wise words and gorgeous photos. This is a wonderful blog to follow, especially for those of us near the Chesapeake.

Originally posted on brighamstephen:

Monarch Monarch

If “birding’ is now the accepted verbiage for bird-watching, then “bugging” must also be an okay description for my recently acquired interest in the orders Lepidoptera (butterflies & moths) and Odonata (dragonflies & damselflies), of the Class Insecta and Phylum Arthropoda.  Several years ago while birding with talented guides in Cape Cod and Cape May I was impressed with their ability to identify insects that flew by and their knowledge about their life cycles, migratory habits, etc.  But it all makes sense–you are outside, enjoying our natural world, and can’t always find a bird, especially in the dog days.  Why not branch out and learn about the bugs.  After all many fly, are quite beautiful, a food source for many birds, and have compelling life stories of their own.  I’m mainly talking about butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and damselflies.

IMG_1011 Palamedes Swallowtail

Until recently I did not fully comprehend the complete…

View original 646 more words

Become a master naturalist

Beginning in October, the Arboretum will offer Maryland Master Naturalist training in MDMasterNaturalist_logo-222x229partnership with Pickering Creek Audubon Center and Phillips Wharf Environmental Center. Trainees will meet the third Wednesday of every month until July.

The Master Naturalist program is for the person who loves nature and being outdoors. The mission is to engage citizens as stewards of Maryland’s natural resources and ecosystems through science-based education and volunteer service in their communities.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 2011, I was so thrilled to be in the first class of Master Naturalists at Adkins Arboretum. The friendships I made are still with me today and keep me connected with people who share a passion for the outdoors. I hope you will join us, and I look forward to connecting with you! For more information about the Master Naturalist program please contact me at raffron@adkinsarboretum.org.
by Robyn Affron
Visitor Services Coordinator, Maryland Master Naturalist


photo by Richard Rohlfing

photo by Richard Rohlfing

When my husband and I were first dating, I taught French in the public school system, and his co-workers would refer to me as “the French madam.” With marriage and a move, I traded my windowless foreign language classroom for the Arboretum’s four hundred acres. My family grew, and so did my commitment to environmental education.

Nearly nine years into my career at Adkins Arboretum, the children who first participated in my nature preschool programs are now serving as summer camp counselors. One of the pleasures of my job is the variety of ages and topics I am able to teach.

Kindergarteners are among my most rewarding students, and when I run into one of the many who have participated in the Arboretum’s “Growing Up Green” program, I’m often met with happy cries of “Look! It’s the frog lady!”

Considering that frogs and their legs are inextricably linked to the French, my metamorphosis is perhaps not so surprising after all. One thing is certain: conjugating irregular verbs never filled me with the joy I experience each time I help a child connect with nature. Bien sûr, I’m the frog lady. And proud of it.

by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Coordinator

Ghosts rise from forest duff


A wonderfully informative post (and great photos) from David Haskell, speaker at the Arboretum’s 2013 fall symposium.

Originally posted on Ramble:

2015-07-13 indian pipe monotropa 018Ghost plant, Monotropa uniflora, is now flowering in shaded woodlands. The species is also known as Indian pipe or corpse plant. Each stem is about finger-high and has a nodding flower at its tip. The plant’s pallor tells the story of its peculiar feeding methods. Rather than using pigments to gather sunlight, the roots are sheathed with fungi from whom the plant gets its food. Monotropa is quite specialized, connecting to a small number of Russula fungi species. The fungi in turn feed themselves by tapping the roots of trees, so Monotropa is indirectly feeding from other plants, using a fungus as the money-laundering intermediary. Whether the fungus gets anything in return from Monotropa is not known. The plant is usually regarded as wholly parasitic.

2015-07-13 indian pipe monotropa 009Monotropa belongs to the Ericaceae plant family, a group that includes heathers, blueberries, rhododendron, and sourwood. These species often live on nutrient-poor acid soil…

View original 317 more words

Tuckahoe camping

Last week I took my grandchildren camping at Tuckahoe State Park, and we had such a good time. It’s so nice to slow down and take all morning fixing breakfast and then slowly ease into the day of fishing and hiking. Several great fishing sites can be found in the open on the lake or off the beaten trail with some tree cover around the lake.

robyn camp 2

robyn camp 1

We saw a lot of turtles basking in the sun, and as we walked around the lake we found turtle nests that had hatched and empty eggshells left behind. We packed our lunch every day so we could keep fishing or hiking or just playing at the playground, which well served all ages. At night we cooked our dinner on the grill and then built a large campfire. We sat around the fire and made s’mores, told stories, and even saw a skunk quickly pass by!

robyn camp 3

We found lots of frogs, toads, butterflies. and fireflies and were calmed by the sounds of cicadas, tree frogs, and birds. Our cabin was small and delightful. Since it did rain some, we had good cover and a nice front porch for relaxing and listening to the rain, and we played board games inside.

This was my grandchildren’s first experience camping, and they loved it, even though they were disconnected from tablets and video games. We did bring a DVD player, and I found a camping projector so that we could watch movies on the wall at night snuggled in our sleeping bags. We had been preparing over the years with Christmas and birthday gifts of camping gear such as sleeping bags and flashlight headlamps.

Camping will make memories that last forever, and with Tuckahoe State Park, there’s great camping just around the corner from the Arboretum!

Robyn Affron
Visitor Services Coordinator