Naturalist Answers addresses your everyday questions about the natural world. Ever wondered why trees lose their leaves, how birds learn to fly, or how bugs survive the winter? Look no further!

 

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How long do butterflies live?

One of the most pleasant parts of spring and summer is the arrival of butterflies. These colorful, lively, harmless insects tend to delight people and symbolize natural beauty. Like the sound of birdsong, butterflies put people at ease and give us a sense of peace in the outdoors. Many people who garden for wildlife are specifically interested in butterflies. Beyond …

How can I attract hummingbirds to my yard?

Hummingbirds are no-doubt one of the most delightful groups of birds in the Western hemisphere. They’re fast, energetic, spunky, and fly like insects, achieving feats that most birds cannot. In many ways, hummingbirds also symbolize an idyllic garden scene, hovering their way from flower to flower. I tend to get one particular question when hummingbirds migrate back through North America …

Why are sloths so slow?

Sloths are increasingly receiving much-deserved attention and love from animal lovers across the internet. Their odd brand of cuteness, peaceful lifestyles, and exceedingly leafy diets seem to have won many hearts. Sloths are getting a lot of attention, from Youtube channels to types of Pokémon. And sloths need all of the attention that they can get! Two of the six …

All about the Opossum

In this Wildlife Spotlight post, I’d like to put in a good word for an animal that people see all the time but tend to misjudge: the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana). These cat-sized, fuzzy, long-whiskered beasts tend to have a polarizing effect on people. Everyone seems to think they’re either hideous or adorable. They have a reputation for being dim-witted, …

How to garden for wildlife

No matter where you live, it’s possible to find an array of wildlife right around your home. Your yard or garden can attract a wealth of fascinating critters for you and your family to enjoy.

Why do people find birdsong relaxing?

Does birdsong actually make people more relaxed? Is this ancestral association the reason that people find birdsong relaxing? Do birds really stop singing when there are predators around?

What is Bird Banding/Ringing and how does it work?

The part of my conservation work that people are most interested in is bird banding. Folks see pictures of me holding gorgeous feathered animals and understandably have a lot of questions. How do you catch them? What are you trying to find out? What do you do to them? Does it hurt? In this Naturalist Answers post, we’ll explore some …

Is it better not to rake your leaves?

Trees, shrubs, and other plants make a lot of mess when they drop their leaves in the fall. All of the leaves, twigs, branches, and other plant matter can pile up quickly over the course of a year. Within a few weeks or months it can cover a well-groomed lawn. Biologists and naturalists call all this mess “leaf litter”. Although …

5 Household bugs that you should know about

Despite our best efforts, invertebrate visitors are common in our homes. As explained in the first installment of this mini-series, household bugs can be charming, harmless, or potentially dangerous depending on the species. These posts will help you get to know some of the usual suspects and whether or not they’re worth worrying about. As with part 1, I’ll be …

Why are there suddenly so many bugs in my house?

Even if you like spiders and insects, it can be unsettling when they show up at home. It is always worth knowing whether or not bugs in your house could potentially be harmful. However, most invertebrates in our homes are pretty harmless. Despite what profit-driven exterminator and pest control companies would like you to think!  Nonetheless, when a handful are …