The Outside Story

A plague of ticks: scientists search for solutions
The Outside Story
September 20, 2017

A plague of ticks: scientists search for solutions

By Susan Shea

On a hike this spring, we walked through a clear-cut area with tall grass and brambles. Afterwards, our pant legs were crawling with black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), also known as deer ticks, the kind that carry Lyme disease. Scientists with the Vermont…

Salamander party tricks
The Outside Story
September 6, 2017

Salamander party tricks

drawn by Adelaide Tyrol

By Brett Amy Thelan

I once heard of a biologist with a clever party trick: regardless of where or when a given party was taking place, he claimed that he could produce a wild salamander in 15 minutes or less, and…

Deerflies: An intense buzzing game
The Outside Story
August 31, 2017

Deerflies: An intense buzzing game

Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol

By Declan McCabe

My students and I were conducting research in the Winooski River floodplain at Saint Michael’s College last week when the buzzing became particularly intense. A brisk walk is enough to outdistance mosquitoes, but deerflies combine fighter…

A dragon devours the sun
The Outside Story
August 16, 2017

A dragon devours the sun

By Michael J. Caduto

More than 3,000 years ago, the Chinese believed that a dragon ate the sun during a solar eclipse, so they gathered outdoors to drive away the beast by beating pots, pans and drums. Some 500 years later, the Greek poet Archilochus…

American goldfinch: a common bird with uncommon habits
Column
July 27, 2017

American goldfinch: a common bird with uncommon habits

By Barbara Mackay

I love the fact that there is always something new to observe in nature. Take goldfinches, for example. I have often watched them devour milkweed seeds from an acrobatic, upside-down position. Recently, I spotted several bright yellow males perched atop dandelion stems,…

The dirt on moles
Column
July 20, 2017

The dirt on moles

By Susan Shea

My dog watched intently as an area of soil in our backyard vibrated and formed a slight ridge. Suddenly he began digging, revealing a mole below ground. Before Cody could pounce, I grabbed his collar and pulled him away.

This was not…

Summer House Guests
Column
July 13, 2017

Summer House Guests

By Meghan McCarthy McPhaul

Perhaps the phoebe selected her nesting spot during the few days my family was away from home at the end of April. Otherwise, I can’t quite figure her decision to build a nest atop the back porch light, right next to…

Starlings aren’t darling
Column
July 5, 2017

Starlings aren’t darling

By Joe Rankin

It’s the classic story of unintended consequences.

In 1890, Eugene Schieffelin released 60 starlings in New York’s Central Park with the hope of establishing a breeding population. Just in case the experiment wasn’t successful, he released another 40 the next year.

Schieffelin…