News from Our Habitat

Sweet Strawberries!

Strawberry season is upon us — and it’s short and sweet, so get picking! Strawberries are delicious and easy to freeze: just wash, pat dry, spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, freeze overnight — and voila — you can have strawberries in November (if they last that long). Here are some local pick-your-own hotspots; for more Connecticut locations, check out this website. (Photo above by James Lee.)

Lyman Orchards (Middlefield, CT)
Rose’s Berry Farm (Glastonbury, CT)
Belltown Hill Orchards (Glastonbury, CT)
Gotta’s Farm (Portland, CT)

Kids’ nights at Van Vleck Observatory

Van Vleck screen shot

Rain or shine, Wesleyan’s Van Vleck Observatory is open to families on the first and third Fridays of the month (starting Feb 20) at 8 p.m.! Come learn about the solar system, black holes, stars and more. Watch the stars and planets (when it’s clear) and try fun activities guided by Wesleyan students and graduate students. For more info, visit 

Saddleback caterpillar


Wesleyan Professor Elise Springer likes to takes long walks in the woods with her camera — check out this wild-looking caterpillar that she spotted near Wadsworth State Park! Elise writes,  “The rear end of the saddleback (Acharia stimulea) looks like the head of an alien. The head, meanwhile, looks like a porcupine crossed with the back of a retro bus. This one was a bit downstream of Wadsworth, munching on the leaves of the fast-spreading autumn olive.” You can see more photos of the saddleback here, and much more about Middletown’s plants and creatures on Elise’s blog, Outwalking

Migrating Monarchs


It’s September — and that means it’s time to start keeping an eye out for monarch butterflies on their way to Mexico! In recent years, monarchs have come through Connecticut in mid to late September, making a regular stop at Hammonasset State Park. To try to understand why monarch numbers are declining, scientists and citizens are carefully monitoring their numbers and locations as they travel. Get involved by keeping track of their migration at this web site and posting records of any monarchs you spot this fall!