Nature Notes from Common Ground
Week of March 1, 2021
Last week, while snowshoeing by a stream on a sunny day, Tim noticed small, winged insects crawling across the snow: winter stoneflies!
A stonefly’s life begins in water, where, as nymphs, they cling to rocks and sticks in fast moving, clean streams (stonefly nymphs are incredibly sensitive to pollution, so finding them in a stream suggests good water quality). As the nymphs mature, their skins split and the adult stoneflies emerge, often en masse on warm winter days, where they can be seen crawling across the snow.
Once they emerge, stoneflies go looking for a mate. To find each other, the stoneflies drum on the ground or another surface with their abdomens. The vibrations of this drumming are felt by other stoneflies who drum in response. The drumming patterns are specific both to the sex and species of each stonefly. A female stonefly can recognize the song of a male stonefly of the same species and drum a pattern back. They drum together for a while before mating. We can’t hear the drumming, though, because the vibrations travel through whatever they are drumming on, and are felt, more than heard. Unless, of course, any stoneflies are really trying to impress like Keith Moon back in ‘67.
More details about stoneflies here.
And here are some other cool bugs you might see in the snow!
Nature activity of the week
Dissect a Flower
As the weather warms a bit and winter moves toward spring, we begin thinking about flowers. This is a great time of year to grab a bouquet from your local florist or grocery store. At home, put some in water to brighten up a room, and use one or two to learn more about what’s going on inside the flower. In school, a bouquet can provide enough flowers for a whole class. (Lilies are a great choice; roses, tulips, and alstromeria are also good options.) We often don’t think to ask: Why do plants have flowers? What is their job, and how do they do it? What are the different parts of a flower for?
Check out this activity on dissecting a flower: a good explanation from Scientific American, and an interactive version from Science Buddies.
Hike of the Week
Wadsworth Falls State Park
Each week we share a family-friendly hike or outdoor adventure. Click here to visit Wadsworth Falls State Park!
About this series
In this time of virtual learning and social distancing, we seek to support teachers and families in getting outside in safe and healthy ways. We hope this series provides content and activities to help your students or your family engage in nature-based learning, whether you are learning in person or virtually.
Some of the funding we rely on to keep Nature Notes free comes from the Robert F. Schumann Foundation and The Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund, established by the South Central CT Regional Water Authority.