Week of March 19, 2023 – March 25, 2023
by Sunny Guyette, Environmental Educator
The big snow storm that arrived on Tuesday left Baltimore Woods in a thick blanket of twinkling snow. There was a beautiful calm for two days after the storm, blue skies, the sun was shining, the air was warmer, and the snow was glistening. The critters below must have known that it was a good day to emerge from below to look for food or find a mate.
Trail School, a child-led homeschool program where we explore the preserve, happened to fall on the last day of the beautiful calm after the storm. We decided to hike to the abandoned gravel mine located on our new 90 acre property. Along the way, I noticed a stonefly crawling on top of the snow. It is common to see a stonefly crawling on the snow as their bodies produce antifreeze-like compounds that allow them to bear freezing cold streams and snow during the winter. Why might they be crawling on the snow? They might be looking for food or a mate while predator populations are low. It is a great sign to see stoneflies on the preserve. These creatures are considered an indicator species, which means that they reflect the health of their environment. These creatures are sensitive to the environment around them, so if we had polluted waters then we would not see them.
While we were playing and exploring our destination, one of our trail school friends noticed a spider crawling on top of the snow. This isn’t usually a common sight, so it must have been warm enough for the spider to emerge! Maybe this spider was also on the hunt for some food. Hopefully encountering these two active critters is a sure sign that spring is almost here!