The Outside Story

Carpenter ants: Consumers of everything but wood
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December 21, 2016

Carpenter ants: Consumers of everything but wood

By Madeline Bodin

Mention carpenter ants, and Declan McCabe, chair of the biology department at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, thinks about the time he got a lungful of formic acid. He had taken a class into the field to survey insects. He saw a…

Glacier-carved rocks, evidence of our Ice Age past
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December 14, 2016

Glacier-carved rocks, evidence of our Ice Age past

By Ned Swanberg

When I’m hiking, I like to watch for rock basins, sometimes as small as cupped hands, that appear along summits and ridgelines. These are “thin places.” When filled with water, these tiny quivering pools offer a deep plunge into time. Basins run…

The Color of Cranberries
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December 1, 2016

The Color of Cranberries

By Tim Traver

As a kid fidgeting at my grandmother’s Thanksgiving table, I often wondered, what’s the point of cranberries? She had a live-in Irish cook who insisted on serving whole cranberries suspended in a kind of gelatinous, inverted bog. If I ventured to eat…

Water Scorpions: underwater assassins
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November 22, 2016

Water Scorpions: underwater assassins

By Declan McCabe Recently, my daughter participated in Odyssey of the Mind, a creative problem-solving competition devoted to ingenuity and team work. As an entomologist, I was thrilled to learn that the program calls its highest award the “Ranatra fusca.” Not only was the award…

How do birds know when to migrate?
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October 12, 2016

How do birds know when to migrate?

By Carolyn Lorié On the north end of my home is a nest site favored by eastern phoebes. Every year a pair shows up, sets up house, and raises a family. They arrive early in the spring, and I spend the long days of spring and…

Vermont: running dry?
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October 5, 2016

Vermont: running dry?

By Madeline Bodin Scenes from the West’s five-year drought are striking – the cracked mud at the bottom of a dry reservoir, forests in flames. Wonder what a drought would look like in Vermont and New Hampshire? Look out the window. This is the first…

Fall Peepers
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September 28, 2016

Fall Peepers

By Michael J. Caduto We like to think that everything in nature has its own particular time and place. But nature is fond of throwing us curves. As a naturalist, a common question I’m asked during foliage season is, “Why are spring peepers calling in…

Column
September 21, 2016

An abundance of caution: wild food and risk

By Benjamin Lord “I’ve got a botanical question for you,” my friend said as he came into my classroom the other day. “Is black nightshade edible?” He’d found some growing near his chicken coop. “I took the tiniest bite,” he said. “I’m not sure if…

Tobacco Hornworms: big, green, and in the garden
Column
September 14, 2016

Tobacco Hornworms: big, green, and in the garden

By Todd McLeish The big, meaty green caterpillars that many of us have been fighting to eradicate from our gardens this summer make plenty of people squirm. In part it’s because they are among the largest caterpillars in the region, sometimes reaching close to three…