Saturday, August 13, 2016

Something You Don’t See Very Often…

August 4th. I took a slight short detour from my usual route to look at an unusual mushroom by the trail. After satisfying my curiosity, I walk a little further along the trail to meet the main trail I wanted. 

I was surprised to see the trail cordoned off with caution tape. I’d never seen a trail blocked in this area before. In fact, I’d never seen a trail in this park every blocked from travel. I had to walk over and find out what was going on.

And here it was. ‘KEEP OUT – ACTIVE HORNET’S NEST’ 

That explained something else. I parked at the lot uphill from this section of trail. While I was gathering my gear, a couple of Southern Yellowjackets (Vespula squamosa) flew in through the open door of the car. They seemed more active than I’m used to seeing. I just stood back and they flew off within a few minutes.

Postscript. The trail was still blocked on August 11th and I encountered a couple more yellow jackets in the car. Guess the trail will be closed now until winter at the earliest. The major nest building will occur this month, and will reach its maximum size in October to December. Hopefully this will be an annual nest and the trail will be opened again in winter or spring.

Wikipedia: Vespula squamosa


Joy Window said...

Hi! I've recently read in some other US blogs that your summer is the time fireflies are seen. This is interesting as August (our southern hemisphere winter) is when I see them on my property. Are you seeing fireflies where you are?


JSK said...

Yes. We live in a rural area. Our home is at the edge of woods. I've seen several fireflies in the last few weeks. It's been very dry this year, until just recently. I don't think I'm seeing as many this year as in other years.

Joy Window said...

Thanks, Joan. I'm on a rural property, too. It's interesting that our fireflies breed in winter and yours in summer. The numbers here vary from year to year.

JSK said...

That sounds weird. Fireflies in summer (here) seems normal. Fireflies in winter (there) sounds strange. :-)

Joy Window said...

To continue the summer/winter firefly sightings conversation ... I just came across this page - - where people list firefly sightings. The nearest place to us is the Jiggi entry - that is the valley immediately east of ours. Their sightings occur roughly when ours do, but I guess that is logical as we are very close geographically. Many other sightings listed on that page are in our winter, but several are in our summer.

JSK said...

I like the site where you can log sightings. We don't have an equivalent site.
You got me doing some searching since, apart from seeing their flashes, I hadn't thought much about the diversity of genera/species involved in the U.S.
Seems there is only one genus, Photinia, ( This site only lists 3 species that have overlapping and some unique ranges. The most exciting information on this page was showing how to ID the species based on its flash frequency.
Then there is this site ( for the Great Smoky Mountain (to the NE of us) with patterns for more species.
I'm going to have to see if I can figure out which specie(s) we have in our woods.
Another 'hobby' for the summer - at least it's evenings, after dark. :-)