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Messengers from the Mangrove Forest

In Conservatory by dfiik

Imagine yourself in a lush, coastal mangrove swamp in Malaysia. There are stilted trees, thorny vines, and lush foliage so thick you can hardly see ten steps in front of you. In the water at your feet live endangered dugongs, and in the trees above you call proboscis monkeys, who also depend on this unique mangrove ecosystem. Suddenly, out of …

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Monarch Population Update

In Conservatory by dfiik

Photo from Journey North Monarch Blog – Homero Gomez, Nov 2016.   The Monarchs arrived in Mexico! Almost like clockwork, they were reported as arriving in sanctuary areas on Nov 1 & 2 2016, just in time for the local Day of the Dead celebrations. There have been speculations on how this year’s overwintering population will compare to the last. …

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Help – it’s almost winter & I found a caterpillar!

In Conservatory by dfiik

Every fall we receive calls from concerned individuals who have found a caterpillar late in the season, and are wondering what will become of it with the advent of the cold weather. Quite often the caterpillar in question is the Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes), which is commonly found in vegetable gardens feeding on carrot, dill or parsley plants. If you …

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Creepy Crawly Arachnids

In Conservatory by dfiik

Halloween is the celebration of the creepy, the fanfare of the phantasma! Out come the decorations, the ghosts & the skeletons, the spider webs, the gravestones. This spooky season brings to mind animals that naturally lend themselves to “creepiness”: rats, ravens, bats, black cats (a recurring theme of black & dark colours), even spiders and scorpions. Why do we view …

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Bug of the Week: Praying Mantis

In Conservatory by dfiik

It could possibly be one of Ontario’s most impressive looking bugs. Sought after by many young naturalists, and never failing to impress the older ones as well, is the famous Praying Mantis. While this insect is one of the most familiar found in a garden, yard or field, it’s interesting how recently this insect came to be in Ontario. The …

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Insects are Animals Too!

In Conservatory by dfiik

When most people think about animals, the first creatures that come to mind are often elephants, zebras, dolphins, or puppies. But did you know that insects such as butterflies, stick bugs, cockroaches, and bees are also animals? In biology, scientists use a system called taxonomy to sort and classify all living things. This system was designed by Carl Linnaeus in …

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The bees are swarming!

In Conservatory by dfiik

Our honeybees in the Observation Hive had a good season: they experienced such a population boom (upwards of 10,000 bees!), they needed more space – so they started swarming! It sounds scarier than it is, but a honey bee swarm is essentially half of the hive moving house. The colony has become so crowded, it’s becoming too difficult to make …

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The Amazing Cicada Emergence

In Conservatory by dfiik

Some people hit the road to go see their favourite band perform in concert; some people hit the road to get away for a few days with friends or family. Other people (like our Naturalist, Andalyne) go on a road trip to witness the mass emergence of a famous bug! Perhaps you’ve heard of the 17-year Periodical Cicada, who according …

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Observing Butterfly Courtship Behaviour

In Conservatory by dfiik

People love to look at butterflies, but have you ever watched them for more than a few minutes? Their colours & patterns can be dazzling to watch, and so can their behaviour. In a concentrated environment like a tropical butterfly Conservatory, where there can be upwards of 2000 free-flying butterflies on any given day, it’s quite easy to sit back, …