Special containers at busy fishing spots keep line contained so that it doesn't harm wildlife.
Happy Fourth of July to all! The holiday weekend is a popular time for gatherings in the preserves, and picnickers are welcome to lay a blanket on the ground or sit at one of the many picnic tables throughout the preserves. If you bring a grill, remember that to prevent fires you must place coals in the special hot-coal containers at popular areas. And, dispose of all trash and recyclables to keep litter from harming wildlife and the environment.
Anglers, look for special containers to dispose of used monofilament line at many of the more popular lakes. Monofilament line that becomes loose in the environment can be deadly for animals. These receptacles keep line from being carried by the wind and keep sharp hooks contained until staff members send the materials for recycling. To safely dispose of line in a standard trash can, cut it into pieces 6 inches or shorter so that it won’t tangle around wildlife.
One angler made a notable catch at Mallard Lake this week, a longnose gar estimated at nearly 50 inches in length. Anglers have been reeling in the bass at Silver Lake at Blackwell using rubber worms and crank baits. Sand Pond at Blackwell has been a good place for panfish these days, with live baits such as wax worms and night crawlers showing success.
Sightings continue of butterflies and dragonflies. Eastern commas have been seen at several areas, and our insect ecologist notes that mourning cloaks have been easy to see. Look for this species in near woodlands and even some wetlands feeding on willows. Silvery checkerspots are on their first brood, and the rare Baltimore checkerspot has been recorded again this year. A few monarchs have been seen flying and laying eggs, a good indication that its population is trending upwards in the wake of two years of difficult conditions for the species.
Dragonflies on the move include black saddlebag, eastern amberwing, widow skimmer, eastern pondhawk and common green darner. Good places to watch for dragonflies are near ponds and streams at Herrick Lake, St. James Farm, Willowbrook and Waterfall Glen.
This week’s snapshot is a red stag beetle, a common woodland resident. The species’ common name comes from the resemblance of its antennae to the look of antlers. Though their large jaws may present a fearsome look, the beetles are not bothersome to humans. Adults eat tree sap, and pupae feed on rotting wood. The beetle pictured is a female. Males have even larger jaws that they use to fight other males during breeding season. The beetles can fly and are attracted to light like moths are, so watch for the species around porch and security lights.
Stag beetles may look ferocious, but they aren't agressive to people.