The Curious Critters in the Forest

Gorgeous day today! We took advantage of the sun and the warmer temperatures to hike a trail nearby. We heard tree frogs, and saw many wonderful things. We felt the smooth gray bark of the beech tree, noticed mushrooms and fungus, looked under logs for salamanders, investigated rotten logs, and observed bugs, including some strange sort of insect that had white fluff coming from its backside! Upon our first glance, we thought we had found a branch covered with white mold.  As we examined more closely, we noticed that the mold seemed to be moving! The little critters had legs, but large white fluffy bits on their backsides. It seems that we had discovered some Beech Blight Aphids (Grylloprociphilus imbricator), also called the Beech Wooly Aphid (more info here).  The highlight (as always) was the garter snake that Eden spotted, and Dawson chased down. He was quite a feisty little guy! Two and a half hours later we emerged from the trees. What a wonderful way to spend a warm fall afternoon!

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