Signs of Spring
Turtles on the Move
Frogs and salamanders are not the only critters we’ve been seeing more of the past few weeks. As the spring continues on, turtles awake from their winter hibernation and resume normal turtle activities when the surrounding temperature is 50-60F. The turtle species we see in Maine generally overwinter in marshes, ponds, rivers and streams. There are 7 species found in Maine, 2 of which are endangered in the state.
Be on the lookout!
Painted turtles and snapping turtles are two of the commonly sighted turtles in Maine. Painted turtles, accurately named for their bright colors, spend much of their time basking on logs and rocks in quiet shallow ponds, marshes, and slow-moving streams.
Snapping turtles can be seen in muddy ponds, marshes, and brackish waters. These generalists eat a variety of plants and animals including crayfish, frogs, turtles, and even ducklings. The average weight of a snapping turtle in Maine is 18 pounds! Next time you’re outdoors, take some time look safely and respectfully look for these turtles.
Road Crossing Challenges
photo: Maine Audubon
For a migrating turtle, there are many obstacles they will likely run into. Turtles slowly crossing roadways are at risk of being crushed by passing cars.
Many turtles in Maine have life spans of up to 30-50 years old! Loosing breeding adults each season could result in significant population declines or even the disappearance of local populations (Maine Audubon).
ME Turtle Roadkill Survey
photo: Leslie Loo/Minden pictures
This citizen science effort begun in 2018 to monitor Maine roadways to identify which were most hazardous for turtles, and which turtle species were at risk. Volunteers survey during turtles active season (May-September). If you would like more information on how to participate in this Survey, visit Maine Audubon here.
Watch this Story time video from Maine Audubon about the Blanding’s Turtle.
To learn more about the amphibians and Reptiles found in Maine, see this report from the Maine Amphibian and Reptile Atlas project.
There is lot’s of activity happening during the month of May! Birds and alewives migrate back to Maine, early spring flowers bloom, vernal pools and ponds come to life. The list goes on and on! We might also see lots of insects appear during the month of May. Although they might seem scary or annoy us while on our spring walks (yes I’m talking about those black flies and mosquitoes), they are apart of nature’s cycle. Insects outnumber all living creatures on the planet with an estimated number of 900 thousand kinds of known living insects!(Smithsonian)
Many plants would not survive unless it was for the insects who pollinate them. Insects help decompose organic matter and they are an important food source for many other animals.
Insects come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For this week while on a walk, let’s try to find as many insects we can! What are the differences between the insects you find? Use the worksheet on the left for note taking.
Many insects were seen this week from moths to ants, beetles, blackflies, bees, and stoneflies!
Brown Click Beetle
Photos by: Jessica Beneski
Ticks and Lymes Disease Awareness Month
“The 2020 Lyme Disease Awarness Month theme this May is “Tick Tock”. This reminds us to slow down and practice great tick prevention when spending time outdoors.” – Maine CDC
Maine CDC reminds us that the best way to avoid a tick-borne diease is to prevent being bitten! Tick checks are one very important and simple way we can prevent a tick-borne illness.
To read more from the CDC click here.
If you or your children would like to learn more about ticks, visit the CDC site for Tick Cirricula.
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