Monday, June 27, 2011

The June Bug has its own month too.

With June drawing to a close, it's timely to give a shout out to the June Bug.  It's actually called a June Beetle, but they are know as bugs most everywhere.  The June Bug is found in Newfoundland but it isn't common. It you see it or come into contact you will remember it.  June Bugs are about as large as we see and they are quite stout.  They are about an inch long and are brown in colour.  The body segments are compact so it appears as one solid nugget with three pairs of legs.

June Bugs emerge in late June to early July in Newfoundland. I've seen them mostly on the western part of the province and have not seen any on the east coast. If something bounces heavy near your porch light it could very well be the June Bug. Its interest is in biting leaves, not people.  :)

I'm heading out on a two-week journey and will post again when I return.  Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Collecting Mussels in Newfoundland

If you travel around Newfoundland this summer most restaurants will have Mussels on the menu as an appetizer or as part of a seafood dish. They are delicious.  The Mussel is a member of the clam family and are found throughout Newfoundland. Here the 3-4 inch shells are mostly dark blue with some light blue sections. When boiled/steamed the insides turn either a pale or brilliant orange. Mussels picked during a full moon seem to offer the biggest yield.  Those in restaurants come from Mussel farms where thousands are suspended on lines in small isolated coves.

If you decide to collect Mussels visit small coves away from settlements. Wait for low tide and if they are present many will be accessible attached to the shoreline. Collecting is a common practice locally and some people travel to beaches ready for a cook-up.  It just takes a small fire, a large pot and you'd boil them in sea water. When the shells open they are cooked.  The downside of collecting Mussels is that some will have tiny black pearls which are crunchy.  Don't collect them when the surf is up; no need to fall into the ocean.

Enjoy getting out in Newfoundland. The thousands of miles of coastline offers much adventure. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Water Beetle

There are some insects which usually stay out of sight and are so different from the norm that they totally freak people out.  One of those is the Water Beetle.  They are found in Newfoundland and throughout the world.  It's a big insect - often 2 to 4 inches long and with a very stout body. The hind legs are visible, flattened and with fine hairs to help propel them in water.

Because they spent the majority of their time living in water and hidden under its surface - they rarely come into contact with people.  However Water Beetles have wings and can fly long distances.  They are attracted to lights and some believe they mistake roads for still water.  They are unlikely to intentionally come into contact with humans and only want to find a water source. Still, at least once each summer a Water Beetle will emerge among my friends. Treat them well - they mean no harm to you or your property.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tadpole Time

While Newfoundland does not have any native frogs, several species have been introduced over the years.  The American Toad, Mink Frog, Green Frog and Wood Frog are found throughout the province. Of these the Green Frog is the least secure. In local communities people tend to know where the frog pond(s) are located.  I only know of a few places on the east coast and in central parts of the province.  I've stumbled upon these by accident.

June is a great time to get out near small ponds with your kids.  Usually tadpoles begin to emerge by now.  If you find some it'll make going back each week really exciting. The development is quite fast.  This year does seem slower due to the colder temperatures.  Yesterday I visited a well-populated pond and only saw two small tadpoles. They are fun to catch, but are quite swift - adding to the fun.  Find a frog pond - you'll be drawn back there throughout the summer!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Hi there,
Just a quick note to say thanks for visiting this blog. The numbers and visitor locations have increased steadily and I'm humbled that you are taking a moment to visit.  Here's where people have viewed the blog from in the past week: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Philippines, Germany, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malaysia, Brazil, Greece, Belgium, Spain and Taiwan. 

If you see a plant/bug/theme which reminds you of things in your neck of the woods please drop a comment and/or a pic.  Thanks again!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Snout Beetle

You may be reading this and thinking 'Snout Beetle, do we really have such a thing?'.   Yeah, we actually do.  These beetles are found in Newfoundland and throughout North America. There are many different members.  For the most part you will not encounter Snout Beetles on your travels.  They rarely enter your house and if so they are there by accident. If you find one it will most likely play dead while you usher it outside.  I've sometimes had them cling to my finger when dropping outside - but they only clung and did not bite.

Most Snout Beetles are pests to cultivated plants.  So, you're most likely to see them in your garden...or evidence of their damage.  I'm not sure how common they are in Newfoundland - I only see a couple each summer.  If you see one, the snout is unmistakable!  There are antenna on either side of the snout and the beetle is about 1 cm long.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rhodora: Painting Newfoundland Purple

A walk in Newfoundland's woods or along the coastline in June provides an amazing display of new growth.  A colour which begins in May/June and lasts throughout the season is purple - or its varieties. Right now and for the next couple of weeks the Rhodora is in bloom. In fact, if you are out and about in Newfoundland right now the rose-purple you see is most likely Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense).

Rhodora is a native shrub to Newfoundland and can be found throughout the east coast of Canada and the northern U.S.  Look for them on bogs or in other wet places.  They are pretty but toxic.  Rhodora can be found in bunches spannning several meters and much further. They stand at about knee-height and are often among other woody-stemmed plants such as Sheep Laurel and Labrador Tea.

Pause and take a closer look at Rhodora on your next excursion. The flowers will only last until about the end of June.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Newfoundland from Space

I saw this pic recently while watching the CBC program 'Here and Now'.  It is a remarkable view of Newfoundland's east coast from space.  In the past week the east coast has been blanketed with fog while today the west coast had sunny skies and 24 degrees C.  In Newfoundland the wet, foggy days coincide with caplin season - small fish which spawn on many beaches each June.  These foggy days are therefore referred to as 'caplin weather'.  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cherry Blossoms in Newfoundland

Newfoundland is not particularly known for its cherry blossoms.  There are no fesitvals to mark the new blooms and they certainly are not plentiful. Yet, in the past couple of days cherry blossoms have emerged and have provided some pretty flowers to launch the growing season.  You just have to know where to look.

The province has two native cherry trees, the Pin Cherry and Choke Cherry.  Neither grow to become large trees so expect a heigth in the range of three to six metres.  An unfortunate identifying feature on the larger trees is Black Knot, a fungus which attacks the trees and appears as a large black lump on branches. The Pin Cherry is more common and appears throughout the province. It will produce small, edible berries in late summer. They are quite nice for nibbling.

On your hikes look for small, five-petal flowers with yellow centres.  It's the Pin Cherry.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pounding Waves at Middle Cove Beach

Last evening I was visiting St. John's and took a drive out to Middle Cove Beach - about 15 minutes drive from downtown. What a cool aspect about the place; absolute nature just outside the city and everywhere else in the province. I arrived just before dusk and the waves were pounding the shore - beautiful. Also, the roar of the ocean was everywhere. It was a bit chilly with the wind, but tolerable.

Get out and enjoy these beaches, just keep a safe distance to avoid being swept out to sea. I've pasted in a video below from the beach, though the seas were not quite this rough on my visit.