HABITAT - the arrangement of food, water, cover,
and space -IS THE KEY.
newsletter is a place to share ideas, information, and help answer
some of your habitat and wildlife gardening concerns.
Native Plant Profile: American Beech
Maryland Wildlife: Maryland Wasps
Making Leaf Prints and Leaf Rubbings with Children
Fall Tips for Your Wild Acres
.PDF File - Opens with Acrobat Reader
Native Plant Profile...
American Beech is a slow growing tree in the same family as oaks,
with one single species native to the U.S. This tree can live to at
least 350 years.
The National Register of Big Trees 2008 lists an American
Beech in Anne Arundel County, Maryland as the largest in the United
States. When last measured in 1995, it stood 112 feet high and measured
290 inches around.
Average maximum height can reach
60 to 70 feet.
This is a tree to place where it has plenty of room to grow. The
diameter of this straight growing tree can become 2 to 3 feet, with a
canopy spread of 40 feet.
Bark: Smooth gray. People use to carve on the bark.
It is said that famous outdoorsman Daniel Boone carved his name on one,
though there is controversy among historians on the matter. However, on
exhibit at the Filson Historical Society Museum in Louisville, Kentucky
is a section of an American beech tree trunk, with the carved legend "D.
Boon kilt a bar 1803."
All photographs of American Beech,
courtesy of Steven J. Baskauf, Bioimages
Flowers & Nuts: Ball-like groups of small male and
female flowers bloom when leaves have just filled out early April thru
May. Wind-pollinated, the triangle-shaped nuts called beechnuts are found in twos
covered by a thin burr cover called a catkin. Beechnuts
are produced every 2 to 3 years. When there is a nut failure, it affects
food sources of many forest animals.
Leaves: Broad, flat, simple and
serrated. They are pale green in
spring, blue-green in summer and gold-copper in the fall. Leaves
remain on trees through winter.
Sun: Can grow well in full sun, but can
shade. Will do well in north-facing locations.
Soil: Does best on well drained, deep fertile soil.
Cover for Wildlife: Cavities formed in the trees
provides shelter for raccoons, opossums, squirrels, and woodpeckers.
Food for Wildlife:
Nuts: Wood Duck,
Chickadees, Grosbeak species, Blue Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted
Titmouse, Downy, Hairy, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Black Bears, Red
and Gray Fox, Raccoon, all species of Squirrels, Eastern Chipmunk, White footed Mouse
Nuts & Buds: Ruffed Grouse, Pheasants, Purple
Finch, and Wild Turkey.
Sap: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Twigs, Foliage, & Nuts: White-tailed Deer
Landscaping Notes: Makes a good ornamental and
shade tree. Its rugged sculpture adds interest to a yard design in
Maryland Wildlife: Wasps
Pollinators and Predators
When the word wasp is mentioned,
people think of pesky stinging insects, but there is much more to this
interesting group of insects found in your Wild Acres. There are over
4,000 wasp species found in the U.S., with most being native.
These insects are in the same order as
bees and ants, called Hymenoptera, which means membrane wings. The
adults usually have four wings with few or no cross veins. The wings are
usually interlocked in-flight, with the rear wings being smaller.
Wasps have mouthparts suitable for
chewing, sucking or both. Females usually have a sting or ovipositor.
Wasps look like bees not covered in fuzzy hairs. Because of that they
are less efficient as pollinators as less pollen stick to their bodies.
Wasps have high energy needs which for
many species are met by flower nectar. True wasps have stingers which
they use to capture insects or spiders for food for their young in the
larvae stage. Wasps are active in the day. Most wasps live only for a
year although queen wasps live longer. These insects can be solitary
species or social.
The Eastern Cicada Killer (Sphecius
speciosus) is probably the largest wasp you will find. This
insect is 2/3” to 3” in length, has a hairy thorax and looks like a
hornet. It is a solitary wasp that eats cicadas. By controlling the
number of cicadas keeps trees healthy.
The wasp Scolia dubia
feeds the grubs of Japanese beetles to their young. So they help keep
your lawn healthy. It has relatives that hunt spiders.
Mud Daubers are dark wasps with
long thin waists. They are black and yellow with a metallic look to
them. Build a tubular mud nest with many tubes attached to a building or
bridge. They place paralyzed spiders in their nests for food for the
Yellow jackets are protein
eaters. They are common around humans as they are attracted to our food.
Their color is red-brown to dark brown with yellow stripes, with slender
long legs. They are the wasps that make honey-comb nests often found on
buildings. They do pollinate flowers. Paper wasps (Poliste ssp.)
also make open comb nests on buildings where ever they can find
protection from the rain. Not vicious unless bothered. Does help control
the number of insects in an area.
Called a hornet, the Bald-faced
hornet is a wasp that has a black body with a pale face and white
markings on the rest of the body. This is a social insect. They make the
large paper nests. Food of the adults is nectar and the adults feed
insects to the young. They will feed on flies that are
garbage and pet droppings. Nests are not reused. In the winter birds and
squirrels will destroy the nests looking for food. These wasps are
commonly found on golden
rod in the fall, along with paper wasps. The only true hornet in Maryland is
the European Hornet which is yellow and chestnut colored. Its
prey is yellow jackets.
Long-tailed Ichneumon wasp species
are usually about 1 3/4” and have a curled black tail with yellow spots.
They are relatively common in the summer on trees infested with horntail
insects which can damage trees. Food is the larvae of horntails; related
species are being studied and used as biological control of pest
There are times when you need to
control wasps and hornets in your area. Wasp traps do not really trap wasp
species but do kill useful insects such as honey bees.
Some simple outside clean-up
will keep most of the wasp problems away if you:
Keep garbage covered in a secure area
Clean up pet food left outside
Clean up pet droppings
fallen fruit from fruit trees
There have been numerous wasps
introduced to control crop pests. Most of these are solitary in
nature and not found in a backyard.
It's important to remember most wasps are
not aggressive unless disturbed at the nest, or struck or swatted.
Worldwide, as well as in your Wild
Acres, wasps are important pollinators and control pest insect population.
Wasps also serve as a food source for mammals such as raccoons and black
When you eat a fig bar or view an
that both may have been pollinated by a wasp!
is a fun interactive way to get children from age 3 to high school
learning to identify trees. Doing this activity will also help children
learn about leaf patterns, veins,
shapes and sizes of leaves. And get them outside!
We suggest a couple of ways enjoy
these fun activities:
leaves, from trees or other plants. They may be fresh or fallen.
Place leaves in a magazine you have taken with you that
has two pieces of stiff cardboard placed in it. Place
leaves in between the cardboard and place rubber band around magazine.
For older children write down common name,
scientific name, date collected and where found (hillside, riverside) for
leaves between heavy books or a plant press. Should do at least overnight.
Cover the work area where you will be printing with paper.
One way to
print is using non-toxic ink stamps. You may want to try the multicolor ink
Place leaf on
the pad top side up.
Then put paper over the leaf, and rub across and press
Remove paper, pick up leaf by stem and place ink side down on
paper, then place paper over leaf and rub across with fingers.
then leaf. Repeat process.
If you use
large sheets of craft paper you can have a mural of leaf prints to place on the wall.
Note: Older children
and teenagers could ink stamp leaves onto fabric and t-shirts, for a green
fashion look. For teen agers
and adults, take ink stamps into the field with your journal, place the ink
stamp under the leaf on the plant cover with ink and then press into
You can use crayons or colored pencils.
Place leaf underside up.
Cover with writing paper (not drawing paper which is too thick).
Color using sideways strokes, fast slanting strokes.
Bright colors show best.
as suggested by the West Virginia DNR, is:
Cut pieces of
cardboard, bigger than leaves.
Use white glue to glue smooth side of leaf to cardboard.
Place leaf stamp on paper, press hard.
If doing multi-colors dry before printing the next color.
children you might want to use non-toxic finger paints. You can even find
finger paint recipes using food coloring, and corn starch or flour on the
Have the children paint the leaf with their fingers and then press
the leaf on paper. They could also paint the leaf with a paint brush and non-toxic poster
(tempera) paint. Then press on paper.
One other idea is to photocopy leaves using the lightest printing setting.
Then have the children color the pictures of the leaves.
Fall Tips for your
Leave your hummingbird feeder up until the end of October.
Many juvenile birds migrate later, so feeders help provide some additional
energy after a long flight and prepare hummingbirds for the rest of the
Don’t dead-head flowers. Leave flowers with their seed heads
in the garden to provide that first source of seed for birds such as
goldfinches. More details can be found at
Clean your bird feeders. A simple solution of 9 parts water
to one part bleach is a good product to clean them with and to reduce the
problems of disease at feeders. For more details, see:
Dig up and store in a cool dry location your cannas,
gladiolus bulbs and tubers until next planting season. Do this before the
first frost in your area.
Plant bulbs for spring bloom. Snow-drops,
crocus and daffodils provide early pollen and nectar that is needed after a
long winter for honey bees. You can plant until heavy frosts start, usually
Separate and divide perennials. Fall gives
the plants time to reestablish their root system after separating and
Prune dead and diseased branches from
trees and shrubs. Our Wild Acres has info on how to do this at
Plant a cover crop on your vegetable
garden after harvesting the crops. A planting of barley or annual rye is
good for erosion control.
Plant trees and shrubs in the fall. This
time of year gives the plants opportunity to establish their root systems.
Take time out to go hawk watching. See our
past article about ideas on it at
Test your soil. Check with your local
extension service or the University of Maryland Home and Garden Center at
Sign up for Feeder Watch, a great project
that helps scientists understand bird populations in the U.S.
Take a garden class! Check with the
University of Maryland’s Master Gardeners about classes in your area,
Read some back issues of Habichat online
Invite your children or grand children to
Take a walk outdoors to
If you enjoyed this issue of Habichat, you might want to check out
our online back issues and clickable listing of Habichat articles.
Click here for online back issues.
Photograph of American Beech tree in autumn, courtesy of
Steven J. Baskauf, Bioimages
Photograph of American Beech tree in summer, courtesy of
Steven J. Baskauf, Bioimages
All photographs in photographic collage of American Beech,
courtesy of Steven J. Baskauf, Bioimages
(on right - top to bottom)
Photograph of paper wasp, courtesy of David Cappaert, Michigan
State University, www.Bugwood.org
Photograph of yellow jacket, courtesy of Susan Ellis, www.Bugwood.org
Photograph of Bald-faced hornet nest inside wood duck nest box,
courtesy of Maryland Wood Duck Initiative
Photograph of Ichneumonid wasp, courtesy of Jim Occi, BugPics, www.Bugwood.org
Here is a listing of phone numbers, web sites and organizations that you might find helpful or interesting in your search for ideas to manage your wild acres.
DNR Online... Inspired by nature!
Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at
backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North
America. FeederWatchers periodically count the highest numbers of each
species they see at their feeders from November through early April.
FeederWatch helps scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird
populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Project
FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership
with the National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, and Canadian
Nature Federation. http://birds.cornell.edu/pfw
National Wildlife Federation - Details on their backyard habitat program www.nwf.org or call them at 1-800-822-9919.
Native plants - The Maryland Native Plant Society offers information dedicated to protecting, conserving and restoring Maryland's native plants and habitats, visit them at
Maryland Cooperative Extension offers home and garden information, tips publications, plant problems, Bay issues, and other links at www.agnr.umd.edu/MCE/index.cfm For their Home and Garden Information website, visit http://extension.umd.edu/learn/ask-gardening.
Bioimages, a project of
Vanderbilt University, provides educational information to the public on
biologically related topics, as well as a source of biological images for
personal and non-commercial use.
Maryland's "Becoming an Outdoors - Woman Program
"- One of the topics covered in the three-day workshops is Backyard
For a free wildlife & native
plant newsletter, visit the WindStar Wildlife Institute at
and subscribe to the WindStar Wildlife Garden Weekly e-newsletter. You can
also visit this website to learn how you can become a certified wildlife habitat
For more information on butterflies - visit the North American Butterfly Association at
Warm season grasses and wild meadows for upland nesting birds visit Pheasants
Forever at www.pheasantsforever.org or e-mail:
We want to hear from you!
Letters, e-mail, photos, drawings. Let us know how
successful you are as you create wildlife habitat on
Write to Me!
Natural Resources Biologist II
Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service
MD Dept of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Ave., E-1
Annapolis MD 21401
Access For All
Click here for online back issues.
Habichat, the newsletter for Maryland's Stewards of Backyard Wildlife, is published by the Wildlife and Heritage Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The facilities and services of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are available to all without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, physical or mental disability. This document is available in alternative format upon request from a qualified individual with a disability.