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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Why do worms come out when it rains?

Have you ever gone out after a rain and found worms all over your lawn, or along the sidewalk? While worms are usually hard at work in our yards and gardens every day, we hardly tend to see them. When the weather gets a little wet, suddenly, we’re liable to find them littering the sidewalk or trucking along the ground. …

Why do trees produce sap?

Almost anybody who has spent time around trees has seen or dealt with sap. For homeowners and gardeners, dealing with trees and their sap can be a regular chore. Sometimes it’s runny and watery, while other times it can be a sticky mess. But why do trees produce sap in the first place? What is it’s purpose? In this Naturalist …

What’s the difference between butterflies and moths?

Butterflies and moths are active, fascinating insects that you’ll find all over the world. With over 160,000 species, these bugs in the order Lepidoptera are a fixture in outdoor spaces. Although most people will be quick to tell you that there is a difference between butterflies and moths, scientists tend to disagree. In reality, when we get down to trying …

Why is bird poop white?

Some people say it’s good luck. Most of us, though, aren’t too thrilled to find a white splat on our car or new sweater. And we know just who to blame: birds. Unlike all the other poo in the animal kingdom, theirs is distinctly white. But why is bird poop white? Let’s find out in this Naturalist Answers post. Not …

What are coral reefs?

Often called “rainforests of the sea”, coral reefs are an iconic marine habitat. Furthermore, they’re a fixture of advertisements for tropical vacations. Tourists are dazzled by the vibrant colors and incredible biodiversity of these busy undersea ecosystems. But what are coral reefs? And how do they form? In this Naturalist Answers post, we’ll learn about coral reefs, what they are, …

Why do bugs die on their backs?

People often uses phrases like “going belly up” to describe dead or dying things. The idea of dead animals with legs sticking up in the air seems especially iconic for insects. For instance, exterminator companies’ logos will often feature a dead bug on its back with its feet high in the air. Furthermore, “dead bugs” are a popular abdominal exercise. …

Are wasps more aggressive in the Fall?

By the time Fall comes around, people are too ready to leave the mosquitoes behind and enjoy the cooler weather. Too often on my own Fall picnics, I’ve been about to enjoy a candied apple or cup of cider when the wasps show up. They aggressively harass my friends and I until, begrudgingly, we head inside and mumble about how …

Why do bugs bite?

Almost every time I pick up a bug to show someone, they ask me the same question. “Does it bite”? Bug bites are certainly one of the most realistic downsides of spending time outdoors. For example, dangers like bear attacks and snake bites are far less common than people think. However, mosquitoes and other insects can be a real annoyance …