Nature Notes

Virginia meadow-beauty or deer grass


Virginia meadow-beauty or deer grass

January 11, 2024


By Annie Reid
Westborough Community Land Trust

WCLT’s Nature Notes Quiz on 2023

bi-colored striped sweat bee


Bi-colored striped sweat bee




eight-spotted forester moth


Eight-spotted forester moth

The January 6-7 snowstorm probably reassured anyone remembering the poet’s famous question, “Where are the snows of yesteryear?” (Francois Villon, 1489). Yet the quick warm-up after that storm still suggests that this winter might be like a typical New Jersey or Virginia winter, and that our local ponds might not freeze enough for ice fishing or ice skating.

We’ll see. As you wait, recall plants, animals, and fungi from last year’s Nature Notes by taking WCLT’s 2023 Nature Notes Quiz. And take the opportunity to think about what the future might hold for them and their habitats in a changing world.

Choose your answers from the drop down lists. Check your answers by clicking the "Show Answers" button. The answer page will contain links to the 2023 “Nature Notes” columns so you can re-read them as a way of preparing to enjoy nature in 2024.

Match these descriptions with possible answers from the list below:

1.   The source of a powerful antibiotic, I live in the soil – and maybe also in your refrigerator.

2.   I swallow flying insects on the wing, so I might not do well with less food if insect numbers continue to decline.

3.   I’m a showy wetland plant that doesn’t appear when marsh or shoreline water levels in summer are too low in droughts or too high due to excessive rain.

4.   We’re tiny pollinators with a color that may surprise you. We’re threatened by the same changes that threaten many other pollinators.

5.   Don’t call a human by my name unless you want to risk insulting that person. I don’t always migrate these days, possibly due to a warming climate.

6.   You might mistake me for a butterfly. Widespread use of pesticides is not good for me and others like me.

7.   My relatives include local native skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) and local jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), as well as popular tropical houseplants. I myself live in a greenhouse.

8.   You might mistake one or the other of us for a hummingbird or a giant bumblebee.

9.   Look for me this spring! A common tiny wildflower in lawns, fields, and roadsides, I might be the first wildflower of spring you see (instead of skunk cabbage, pussy willow, or coltsfoot). Spring may come earlier these days.

10.   After being almost totally wiped out of North America’s forests due to a fungal blight, I might yet make a comeback if promising research involving the addition of a new gene works out.

Possible answers:
- (Penicillium mold Penicillium species)
- American chestnut (Castanea dentata)
- barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
- corpse flower (Titan arum,  Amorphophallus titanum)
- eight-spotted forester (Alypia octomaculata)
- green bees (Augochlora species, Agapostemon species)
- hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) & snowberry clearwing moth (Hemaris diffinis)
- Virginia meadow-beauty or deer grass (Rhexis virginica)
- whitlow grass (Draba verna)
- yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

Report your own local nature sightings (or check out what others have seen) on WCLT's Facebook page! Find more information about enjoying nature in Westborough, including trail maps and a calendar of events, at the WCLT website

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