Into The Wild

By |
From Xplor: May/June 2019

Plenty of interesting plants and animals live life near the fast lane.

Heads Up!

Assassin bugs are best observed at a distance. The tiny predators can deliver a painful bite!


With all those flowers, roadsides are aflutter with butterflies. Pack a net and see how many you can catch.

  • Clouded sulphur
  • Checkered white
  • Black swallowtail
  • Monarch
  • Red admiral

Do More

Carry a trash bag in your car so you can put roadside litter in its proper place.

Did You Know?

 Most critters would get a terrible tummy ache — or die — if they ate rotten meat. But not turkey vultures. Acid in a vulture’s stomach is so strong that it kills nearly all germs. By eating roadkill, vultures — nature’s cleanup crew — keep germs from spreading.

Take a Closer Look

If you’ve lost your sense of direction, find a compass plant. The large lower leaves on these sunflowerlike plants usually grow with their edges pointing north and south.


Weedy areas alongside roads harbor a variety of rodents and reptiles. Birds of prey perch nearby, hoping to nab an easy meal.

  • Barred owl - At dawn and dusk, you might catch a glimpse of this owl snoozing on a fence post.
  • American kestrel - This blue jay -sized falcon often hovers over medians, waiting to pounce on prey.
  • Red-tailed hawk - This large hawk rests on tree branches, fence posts, and road signs during the day.

What Happened Here?

Baby spittlebugs suck sap from plants and turn it into spitlike foam. The bugs snuggle inside the slobber to stay safe from predators and the heat of the sun. Although the foam looks like saliva, it’s not. It actually comes from a spittlebug’s other end.


Zipping along a rural highway can feel like driving through a rainbow. Wildflowers of every color bloom beside the road from spring through fall. How many of these fancy plants can you spot?

  • Wild bergamot
  • Butterfly milkweed
  • New England aster


Woodchucks often dig burrows under roadside fence rows. When they’re scared or surprised, these chubby squirrels give aloud, shrill whistle to warn family members of danger.

Also In This Issue

Young critters have lots to celebrate on Mother’s Day.

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White