exploring the goldenrod meadows at Alewife Brook Reservation

by Corey Husic

Photos by author unless otherwise noted.

Last Sunday, we set out on the club’s first field trip of the fall semester. We opted for a nearby favorite location, Alewife Brook Reservation, which is generally a good spot for migratory birds as well as a variety of wildflower and insect species. As soon as we arrived, we noticed that the goldenrods were in full bloom with a few purple and white asters scattered throughout.

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We soon wandered off the trail into the midst of the flowers where we found a plethora of insects, including a several species of bees, wasps, and flies that mimic wasps.

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We encountered dozens of Locust Borers (Megacyllene robiniae), a gorgeous beetle species:

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photo: Eamon Corbett

The larvae of these black and yellow bore into the wood of the Black Locust tree, whereas the adults (pictured above) feed on the pollen of goldenrod flowers.

As we worked our way through the goldenrod, I spotted this distinctive Ailanthus Webworm Moth:

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This curious moth is native to neotropical America, but its larvae can survive on the Ailanthus tree, which was introduced from China and has since spread across the United States. As a result, this moth can now be found across the continent.

We worked our way to a small artificial pond, where Eamon promptly found a large orbweaver spider sitting on its web. We all took some time to really admire this impressive and beautiful spider known as Banded Argiope (Argiope trifasciata):

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Argiope trifasciata, featuring past-president of the Naturalist Club, Eamon Corbett

As the sky darkened, we made our way to the opposite side of the Alewife Brook to a wetlands area. Bullfrogs hopped into the ponds as we walked past, and a couple of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies moved down the path ahead of us:

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photo: Eamon Corbett

Many of the wetland plants were on the tail-end of flowering, but we spotted some blossoms of pickerelweed, cardinal flower, and crimson-eyed rose-mallow throughout the marshy areas.

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After a loop around the pond, we turned back and headed towards the T along the bike path where we spotted this cool caterpillar that turns into a Goldenrod Hooded Owlet moth (Cucullia asteroides):

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see the Red-legged Grasshopper hiding below?!

With that, we returned to the subway just as the rain picked up.

We never really know what we’re going to find at Alewife, but as usual, we were not disappointed!

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