Species of the Week: The Halloween Pennant

Photo by Nata Culhane

As a dragonfly, rather than a damselfly, the Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) belongs to the suborder Anisoptera. Most dragonflies have uncoloured wings but the Halloween Pennants’ wings are tinted orange with brown markings. Their abdomen (tail) is black with orangey-red elongated spots. Halloween Pennants, like many Skimmers, are “perchers” — they spend a lot of time looking for prey from a flower, twig, or rock perch. Skimmers are usually found near calm water, therefore it’s no wonder that we often find them near the Main Beach, on Hogg Bay. As far as dragonfly identification in the field is concerned, skimmers, especially Halloween Pennants, are among the easiest, only to be confused with Calico Pennants. Leave us a comment about another species that you’ve seen at Murphys Point that could also be named for a holiday! 

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Species of the Week: The Common Raccoon

Photo by Nata Culhane

 Our species this week is the Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor). Easily recognized, the Common Raccoon boasts a distinctive ringed-tail and facial markings that resemble a black mask. They are also characterized by their extremely dexterous front paws, which allow them to handle food and other objects. If you’ve ever had an encounter with a raccoon at home or on your campsite, you may have noticed that they are omnivorous creatures and will consume almost any food item. They typically prefer corn, fruits, nuts, and crayfish, but their diet depends on season and availability of food items — a raccoon living in the wild would have a much different diet than one living in the suburbs. This is why it’s important to dispose of your garbage properly and to not leave unattended food out while you’re camping, or else you may receive a visit from one of these critters. If you have any funny stories of raccoon visits while camping here at Murphys Point, feel free to share them with us in the comments!

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Species of the Week: The Northern Red-bellied Snake

This week we are going to spend a year in the life of the Northern Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata). This snake is distributed throughout southern Canada and the eastern United States with the northern and southern extremities of their range being Nova Scotia and northern Florida. The Northern Red-bellied Snake is fairly small with adults reaching 8-11 inches in length. Northern Red-bellied Snakes are active from May to October with mating occurring in the spring and early summer. Females give birth to 7-8 live young sometime between late July and early September. Northern Red-bellied snakes are typically found in woodlands, meadows, swamp forests, open fields and edge habitats. Their diet consists of slugs, earthworms, insects, and beetle larvae. They usually spend the day hidden under rocks and emerge during the evening, with activity peaking at night. Over the winter, the Northern Red-bellied Snake spends its time in anthills and rodent burrows. They have many natural predators and are also susceptible to mortality by lawnmowers. This individual was spotted on the main road at Murphys Point Provincial Park.

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