Creature Feature: Common Buckeye

By Ezra Staengl, Center for Urban Habitats Common Buckeye Junonia coenia Family: Nymphalidae   Distinguishing Features/Description: Common buckeyes are medium sized, brightly colored and strikingly patterned butterflies. Each of the buckeye’s four wings have two dark colored eye spots circled in a thin band of yellow. The eye spots are positioned along the edges of […]

Creature Feature: Painted Skimmer

By Drew Chaney, Center for Urban Habitats Painted Skimmer Libellula semifasciata Family: Libellulidae   Distinguishing Features/Description: The painted skimmer is a medium-sized, showy dragonfly with a translucent orange thorax and abdomen, partial orange wing venation, dark wing bands, reddish eyes, and black markings on the abdomen tip. Distribution and Habitat: The painted skimmer is found […]

Creature Feature: Northern Bobwhite

By Ezra Staengl, Center for Urban Habitats Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus Family: Odontophoridae Other common names: Bobwhite Quail, Virginia Quail Distinguishing Features/Description Northern bobwhites are a small, round bodied species of quail with short legs and tails. Their bodies are finely patterned with bold rufous, brown, black and white markings. Most bobwhite populations have a […]

Flora Feature: Butterfly-weed

By Rachel Floyd, Center for Urban Habitats Family: Apocynaceae Genus: Asclepias Species: tuberosa Average Height: 24 inches Bloom Time: June through August Elevation Range: All elevations of the Piedmont Geologic/Soil Associations: Prefers lean soils including rocky or sandy soils, but will tolerate clay if not kept too moist. Soil Drainage Regimes: Xeric, Dry-mesic, and Mesic. […]

Flora Feature: Ragged Fringed Orchid

By Ezra Staengl, Center for Urban Habitats Center for Urban Habitats recently discovered two ragged fringed orchids (Platanthera lacera) on a survey of an acidic powerline prairie in eastern Albemarle.  We found the orchid in a powerline corridor holding a remarkably diverse prairie remnant, especially notable for having multiple plants not previously recorded in Albemarle […]

Field Note: Albemarle County Record for Little Brown Skink, Scincella lateralis

Scincella lateralis (little brown skink) VA: Albemarle County, The Hedgerow Property (38° 0’37.39″N 78°34’47.57″W) June 13, 2017. Devin Floyd. Significance of Record: County First. While preforming biological survey transects at the site of the future Albemarle County Park known as “Hedgerow”, I encountered Scincella lateralis on numerous occasions. Dates observed were 05/02/2017, 05/09/2017, 05/30/2018, and […]

Field Note: Albemarle County Record for Spotted Turtle, Clemmys guttata

Clemmys guttata (spotted turtle) VA: Albemarle County, Mill Creek / Biscuit Run Floodplain Pools (37°59’51.02″N  78°30’48.82″W) February 28, 2018. Devin Floyd. Significance of Record: County First. On this warm late winter day I ventured into a wetland along the Biscuit Run immediately east of the north end of Biscuit Run State Park. The site is […]

The Piedmont Mafic Barren: A Rare but Endangered Treasure Right in our Midst

By Drew Chaney Naturalist and Botanist, Central Virginia As you walk up the hill, you see a gap in the canopy. A sloping outcrop of bedrock lies before you, bordered by gnarled cedars, dwarf hackberries with smooth, cool gray branches, and the olive-green ground cover of the hairy lip fern. You step into the clearing […]

Notes From the Field: Ecosystem Modeling Under Geological Constraints at Quarry Gardens

By Ezra Staengl, Center for Urban Habitats The Quarry Gardens property was used as a soapstone quarry between the 1950s and 1970s. After the soapstone industry abandoned it, the community used it as a dump until Armand and Bernice Thieblot bought it in 1991. In 2014 the Thieblots embarked on a mission to create a […]

Native Gardens and Autumn Cleanup – A New Piedmont Aesthetic

Luna moth wrapped in a leaf Thinking about “cleaning up” those autumn native flora? Hold that thought! I will nearly always encourage actions in the landscaping arena that strike a balance between conserving biodiversity and satisfying human aesthetics. Gratefully, modern gardening and landscaping aesthetics are looking to local contexts more, and relying upon observation, inquiry, […]