Branching Out Summer 2013

Page 1

Walker Nature Center

A LOOK INSIDE • In Praise of Ticks and Mosquitoes 2 • Calendar of Events 4 • Kid’s Corner 6

By Sharon Gurtz

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17-year Cicada Brood II is buzzing. American Toads mature and leave the water. White-tailed Deer fawns are born. Bee Balm and Purple Coneflower bloom.

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Monarch and Red Admiral butterflies arrive. Black Rat Snakes lay eggs. Butterfly Weed and Cardinal Flower bloom. • Tent caterpillars emerge from cocoons.

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Copperhead snakes give birth to live young. Tiger Swallowtail butterflies are prevalent. Blue Lobelia, Asters and Goldenrod bloom. Eastern Box Turtle young hatch.

BRANCHING OUT Cicada Invasion By Ken Rosenthal

Dark black with red eyes, periodical cicadas can look fearsome. While smaller than annual cicadas, periodicals make up for it in sheer numbers. They emerge in amazing densities, sometimes as high as 1.5 million individuals per acre. The males form chorus centers to attract females, contracting abdominal muscles Photo by: Pennsylvania Department of to produce sounds that seem deafening. Their appearance can Conservation and seem sudden when they have been absent from the forest Natural Resources for 16 years. Bugwood - UGA Most cicadas develop underground, feeding from the vascular tissues of tree and plant roots. The majority of cicada species we see here are “annual cicadas.” They have 2-5 year lifespans, spending all but their final summer underground. Their development is staggered, so we see individuals of these cicadas every year. Unlike annual cicadas, periodical cicadas develop synchronously. All individuals emerge from the soil, molt into their final adult form and search for mates together. Their life cycles can last 13 or 17 years. They are tracked using brood numbers assigned to the different synchronized groups. In our area, the last emergence of a 17-year cicada brood was Brood X in 2004. Brood II is a 17-year brood that will emerge this year. This is the “East Coast” brood, stretching from north central North Carolina, through central and northeastern Virginia, all the way to New York and southern New England. The emergence and subsequent mating activity takes place over a 4-6 week span, typically from late April to early June. During this time, the sheer numbers are thought to overwhelm predators. Predators become sated quickly, ensuring that most of the cicadas can successfully mate and reproduce. By the end of June it will seem like they were never here, with 16 more summers of development between us and the next swarm of cicadas. Though fearsome in appearance, cicadas do not sting or bite. Take time this spring to enjoy what is a truly rare and remarkable natural spectacle. Join us for Cicada Invasion on June 13 to learn more about these fascinating, long-lived insects.

Summer 13 Volume Fifteen

Walker Nature Center 11450 Glade Drive, Reston, VA 20191 Enjoy year-round access to trails, free parking and restroom facilities dawn to dusk.

FEATURES 72 acres of forested land, a picnic pavilion, demonstration gardens, educational signage, a campfire ring, two streams, a pond, the entrance to 44-acre Lake Audubon and an interpretive green building, known as Nature House.

In Praise of Ticks and Mosquitoes

Photo by: Joseph Berger United States Bugwood - UGA

By Ken Rosenthal and Katie Shaw

As external parasites, most people revile ticks and mosquitoes. After all, they feed on humans for blood meals. In mosquitoes, it is the female who is the aggressor. She needs blood to produce eggs. In ticks, both males and females use blood to satisfy all their nutritional needs. Both groups have the potential to spread disease. With apologies to soul singer, Edwin Starr of War fame, “what are they good for”? Mosquitoes as both pollinators and food sources There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes and less than 10% of them bite humans. Adult mosquitoes, male and female, generally depend on nectar and plant juices for their nutrition. However, the blood sucking species can transmit diseases like malaria, West Nile virus, dengue fever and filariasis.

NATURE HOUSE HOURS Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays

Saturdays 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Sundays 1–4 p.m. Closed July 4 Independence Day


703-476-9689 •

Groups: Please call ahead to arrange your visit. Branching Out is a quarterly publication of the Walker Nature Center (WNC), owned and operated by Reston Association. The mission of the WNC is to foster an environmental stewardship ethic in the community. It is named after Reston’s first Open Space and Nature Center Director, Vernon J. Walker.

Many health specialists are of the opinion that a world without mosquitoes would be a better place. Unfortunately, the negative effect of this would be felt in many food chains. Adult mosquitoes serve as foods for smaller flying predators such as bats, birds and other, larger flying insects like dragonflies. An important side effect of mosquitoes feeding on nectar is that they also serve as pollinators for many of the plants upon which they feed. Mosquitoes in larval and pupal forms are also important food sources. This is why many species lay their eggs in temporary pools, standing water in tree cavities or in human structures like tires and other debris which lack natural predators. Mosquito larvae feed on bacteria, algae and other microbial organisms. In a very small area, such as a pitcher plant or bromeliad lily, mosquito larvae can have a significant effect on the microbial community. Their presence has been linked positively to species diversity in these communities. Ticks as environmental indicators and population control The life cycle of a tick has four stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. Larvae, nymphs and adults all attach to hosts for nutrition. Although not every tick is infectious, ticks have been linked to diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis. Most literature focuses on the harmful effects tick bites have on humans, yet ticks play a vital role in ecosystems. Like any small arthropod, ticks have a host of natural predators. Rodents, birds, beetles, ants, spiders, bacteria, fungi and other organisms all prey on ticks. The grooming activities of hosts also limit tick numbers. Parasitism by ticks helps weed out weaker animals, increasing the overall health of wild populations. Humans have used ticks to their advantage, too. Ecologists use surveys of tick populations to understand trends in the health of ecosystems, because ticks parasitize many different organisms. Tick saliva has been investigated for its anti-coagulant properties. Other substances in its saliva are being investigated to help develop vaccines against ticks or the pathogens they carry.

Branching Out is printed on 100 percent recycled paper using soy ink. It is produced using 100 percent wind power. Please recycle.


What can I do? Use resources like the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more about preventing tick and mosquito bites. Repellent with DEET will repel both mosquitoes and ticks. Light-colored clothing with long sleeves and legs leaves less skin for mosquitoes to target and makes ticks easier to spot. If you are venturing deep into tick and mosquito habitat, you may wish to consider clothing treated with permethrin which repels them. In Reston, the number one nuisance mosquito is the Asian Tiger Mosquito, which do not travel far from their breeding sites. To help get rid of these, check your yard for anything that may be holding water. Remove or empty the water from watering cans, canoes, buckets, empty flower pots and saucers, even the folds in outdoor tarps. These are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which only require one tablespoon of water for 200 larvae. For pet dishes or bird baths, be sure to replace the water regularly every two to seven days. For places like underground yard drains, ponds and rain barrels, use “mosquito dunks” which contain BTI bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) that is toxic specifically to mosquito larvae. Two key sources of mosquitoes near homes are clogged gutters and corrugated black drainage pipes. Be sure to have your gutters cleaned regularly and position your drainage pipes to ensure proper drainage. Dunks can also be secured in gutters and drains. Remember to replace all dunks on a monthly basis during mosquito season. Ticks hang at the ends of vegetation to grab on to hosts when they pass. Clear away brush, leaf litter and tall grass along houses and buildings and at lawn edges. Place a strip of gravel or wood chips between wooded areas and lawns. What not to do Please don’t succumb to desperate measures. If you feel that you must bring in the hired guns, choose a licensed applicator who will only use a larvicide specific to mosquitoes and/or ticks. Avoid companies who indiscriminately spray general pesticides that also kill beneficial insects, including our much needed pollinators. Enjoying the outdoors always has its risks, but these simple steps can help prevent discomfort and illness from mosquito and tick bites.

Please & Thank You By Katie Shaw

The on-going support of the community is essential to the nature center. Many people choose to support the center through volunteer work, others through cash or in-kind donations. Here are some ways that you can help, like your friends and neighbors below.

Please Tax deductible donations are gratefully received by our charitable 501c3 organization, Friends of Reston, 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20191. Write “Nature Center” in the memo section of your check. You will receive a letter of receipt for tax purposes. If you can donate one of the following items in new or excellent condition, please contact or call 703-435-6510. Friends of Reston will provide you with a letter of receipt for tax purposes. Wish List: wide format laminator, adult binoculars, blender, handheld GPS units, and black oil sunflower seeds for feeders.

Thank You to the Following Donors: Access National Bank; Active Duty Fitness for Women; All Beaded Up; Better Said Than Done; Bonzai Sports; The Business Bank; Canoe, Kayak & Paddle Company; Chadwick, Washington, Moriarity, Elmore & Bunn, PC; Dogfish Alehouse-Fairfax; Fairfax Screen Printing; Fanfare; Glory Days Grill; Great Harvest Bread Company; Bonnie Haukness; Nancy & Craig Herwig; Jasmine Café; Jim Kirby Photography; Ray & Mary Lynne Leonhard; Lucia’s Italian Ristorante; Massage Pro; Microsoft; Nature’s Best Photography; Peterson Development Companies; Potomac Energy Group; Potomac River Running; Reston Community Center; Reston Sprint Triathlon; Reston Town Center; Richard P. Slater Financial Planning Services; SunTrust Bank; Pam Tobey; Chuck Veatch; Chris Walker’s Memorial Donors; Wetland Studies and Solutions; Whole Foods Market-Reston; Vicky Wingert; and all 167 participants in the 10th Anniversary 5K Fund Run to Benefit Nature House

Thank You to the Following Volunteers:

June 13 • 7-8 p.m. $4/person RA members $6/person non-members All ages Periodical cicadas are emerging this year, producing one of the most amazing natural displays you will see. Find out where they come from, how they make their sound and why we only see them once every 17 years. Learn other cicada calls and take a short hike to see how many different cicadas Photo by: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural we can hear. Resources - Forestry Archive • • Bugwood - UGA

Smar Abuagla; Associated Builders and Contractor Leadership Institute Class of 2012; Richard Badley; Zeb Barcus; Joanne & David Bauer; Matt Bender; Diane Blust; Julie, Charlie, Benjamin & Emma Bond; Bill Brown; Bill Burton; Boy Scout Troop 1970; Anne Cannizaro; Karen Cantwell; Cyrus Crevits; Cub Scout Pack 1313; Nancy Davis; Birgitta Day; Freya De Cola; Susan Dill; Ellen Douglas; June Ferrara; Carol & Jay Hadlock; Carol Hartgen; Sylvia Houston; Katharine Hunter; Leon Kolankiewicz; Helaine & Noah Krob; Dale Lichtblau; Catherine Linberg; John Lovaas; Ilene & Jim McNeal; Kevin Munroe; Casey Noll; Terri Ostrowski; Barbara Paolucci; Ellen Perrins; Andy Rabin; Eveleen Sass; Margo Sterling; Anne Strange; Lori Thomas; Sandra Twohie; Virginia International University; Polly Witmer



WONDROUS WATERFOWL Monday, June 3 • 10–11 a.m. OR Tuesday, June 4 • 10–11 a.m. $5/child RA members • $8/child Non-members Ages 18 months to 35 months

Geese, ducks and herons are birds that live in or near water. Look at their bills and feet to see how they help these birds survive. Enjoy a story and make webbed feet to wear home. Reservations required by May 29. HOME FOOD PRESERVATION Thursday, June 6 ∙ 7–9 p.m. $5/person RA members • $8/person Non-members Adults

Get an introduction to canning, fermentation, drying/dehydration and freezing. Learn about the science behind food preservation, safety precautions, kitchen set up and jar and equipment prep as well as food and recipe selection. See a “dry” demo of how to fill jars with food to be canned. Instructor: Diane Blust. Co-sponsored by Reston Community Center. Reservations required by June 3. WALKING STICK WORKSHOP Friday, June 7 • 7–8 p.m. $6/child RA members • $9/child Non-members Ages 5 to 12

Summer is the perfect time to explore new places. Make a walking stick that can travel with you on your next hike. Make a leather grip, choose the perfect stick and engrave your name or initials on it. All supplies included. Reservations required by June 4. NAME THAT ANIMAL Wednesday, June 12 • 10–11 a.m. OR Wednesday, June 12 • 1–2 p.m. $5/child RA members • $8/child Non-members Ages 3 to 5

Can you tell an animal by just its eyes, nose, ears or tail? Play a guessing game and match tails to animals hidden along the trail. Use your ears to listen to different sounds and make an animal mask. Reservations required by June 9.

CALEND NATURE WALK: SUNRISE VALLEY WETLANDS Saturday, June 22 • 10 a.m.–noon Free Sunrise Valley Wetlands - 12700 Sunrise Valley Drive Park on the left (west) side of the office building. All ages

Sunrise Valley Wetlands is an aquatic jewel. This natural area is home to birds of prey, waterfowl, aquatic reptiles and amphibians as well as a dazzling array of insects including butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies. Co-sponsored by Reston Historic Trust. Reservations required by June 19. FLYING JEWELS: HUMMINGBIRDS Sunday, June 23 • 2–3 p.m. $4/person RA members • $6/person Non-members All ages

Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards. They eat nectar and are important pollinators. See our native hummer and its nest up close, taste some nectar, and find out what else they eat. Discover how small they really are and learn ways to attract this beautiful jewel to your backyard. Reservations required by June 20. SUMMER SONGS CAMPFIRE Friday, June 28 • 7:30–9 p.m. $5/person RA members • $8/person Non-members WNC Campfire Ring - On Soapstone Drive, between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road. All ages

Summer is a musical time of year. Insects and birds fill the air with sounds. Listen and discover who is making them through stories, songs and fun activities. Reservations required by June 25.

FISHING WITH FATHERS Saturday, June 15 • 10:30 a.m.–Noon $5/person RA members • $8/person Non-members All ages

INTRODUCTION TO WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY Saturday, June 29 • 10 a.m.–1 p.m. $10 RA members • $15 Non-members Adults

Celebrate Father’s Day by fishing with us at Lake Audubon. Learn fish facts, fishing basics and practice casting. We’ll provide rods and bait. Those 16 and older wishing to fish will need a fishing license available online at Reservations required by June 12.

Join local photographer John Eppler to learn how to get the best photographs of wildlife in your backyard. After a presentation on how to attract wildlife and what camera equipment and settings to use, we’ll go outside to apply what we’ve discussed and take photographs. Be sure to bring your camera. Reservations required by June 26.



CRITTERS IN THE CREEK Monday, July 8 • 10–11 a.m. OR Tuesday, July 9 • 10–11 a.m. $5/child RA members • $8/child Non-members Buttermilk Creek Nature Trail - 11032 Ring Road, park at Uplands Pool. Ages 18 months to 35 months

Explore the cool waters to find frogs, tadpoles, minnows and other aquatic creatures. Be ready for a fun hike and a wet time. Wear your wading shoes and clothes that can get dirty. We will provide nets and buckets. Reservations required by July 3. FIREFLIES IN JULY Friday, July 12 • 7:30–9 p.m. $5/person RA members • $8/person Non-members Brown’s Chapel - 1575 Brown’s Chapel Road. All ages

Fireflies, or lightning bugs, produce their own light. Discover what makes them glow and why they blink on and off. Find out what they eat, how they grow and where they live. Search for flashing fireflies and take home a glowing craft. Reservations required by July 9. TURTLE SOUP Saturday, July 13 • 10:30–11:30 a.m. $5/child RA members • $8/child Non-members Ages 3 to 5

We won’t be sampling turtle soup but learning about the types of turtles that live in Reston. Look at turtle shells, meet a box turtle and make a turtle craft. Finish your adventure by going on a turtle search. Reservations required by July 10. HOW TO BUILD A SOLAR GENERATOR Sunday, July 14 ∙ 1:30–3:30 p.m. $5/person RA members • $8/person Non-members Adults

For under $1,000 and a few hours of your time, you can build a solar generator capable of powering a freezer or fridge during a power outage. Class will cover the parts and tools needed as well as the building steps. Instructor: Jon Mills. Co-sponsored by Reston Community Center. Reservations required by July 11.

DAR of Events MOTHS BY MOONLIGHT Thursday, July 18 • 8:30–9:30 p.m. $4/person RA members • $6/person Non-members All ages

Moths are nocturnal pollinators and a source of food for animals. See moths by use of a light trap and sheet setup. Learn why they are important, how they can improve your backyard and how you can attract them. You’ll be amazed at the diversity of moths in Reston. Reservations required by July 15. STARLIGHT AND FIRELIGHT Friday, July 26 • 7–8:30 p.m. $5/person RA members • $8/person Non-members WNC Campfire Ring - On Soapstone Drive, between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road. All ages

Enjoy the beauty of the night sky around a glowing campfire. Hear stories of the constellations and sing starry songs. Make a “Milky Way” s’more and watch stardust sizzle in the fire. Reservations required by July 23. LIFE UNDER A LOG Sunday, July 28 • 2–3 p.m. $4/person RA members • $6/person Non-members All ages

Fallen trees are homes to many creatures. Turning over a log can reveal mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and spiders. See some creatures up close, learn about their roles in the ecosystem and go on a short log roll hike. Reservations required by July 25.


TREMENDOUS TREES Monday, August 5 • 10–11 a.m. OR Tuesday, August 6 • 10 –11 a.m. $5/child RA members • $8/child Non-members Temporary Road Pavilion - 1750 North Shore Drive. Ages 18 months to 35 months

Discover how they provide food, shelter and oxygen to animals and people. Meet some big trees, make a tree craft and enjoy a story and snack in their shade. Reservations required by July 31.

STREAM SLOSH Saturday, August 17 • 10:30 a.m.–Noon $4/person RA members • $6/person Non-members All ages

ECO-FRIENDLY CLEANING Tuesday, August 6 • 7–8:30 p.m. $5/person RA members • $8/person Non-members Adults

Dip into Snakeden Branch stream to search for fish and frogs and take a peek under rocks to look for insects. Wear your wading shoes and clothes that can get dirty. We’ll provide nets and buckets. Reservations required by August 14.

Reduce harsh, sometimes toxic, cleansers in the home. Learn to make safe and environmentally-friendly alternatives, quickly and economically. Participants are encouraged to purchase Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan and bring it to class. Co-sponsored by Reston Community Center and Sustainable Reston. Instructor: Diane Blust. Reservations required by August 3. SECRETS IN TREE BARK Sunday, August 11 • 2–3 p.m. $4/person RA members • $6/person Non-members All ages

Ever wonder what happens under tree bark? What do the layers of a tree do? What animals burrow into bark to use it as shelter? Take a short hike to identify types of bark, learn about the tree’s inner workings and spot signs of tree pests. Reservations required by August 8. KNEE DEEP IN A CREEK Tuesday, August 13 • 10–11 a.m. $5/child RA members • $8/child Non-members WNC Campfire Ring - On Soapstone Drive, between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road. Ages 3 to 5

Search in The Glade stream for frogs, tadpoles, minnows and other creatures. Wear your wading shoes and clothes that can get dirty. We will provide nets and buckets. Reservations required by August 8.

CRICKET CRAWL Friday, August 23 • 8–10 p.m. Free Ages 8 through adult

Participate in a regional citizen science project to better understand cricket populations in the Northern Virginia/ DC/Baltimore area. Meet for a crash course in cricket and katydid calls. Then go outside and listen for our target species on the nature center property. We will finish by carpooling to other sites in Reston. Sponsored by Audubon Naturalist Society, Discover Life and Natural History Society of Maryland. Reservations required by August 20. FAREWELL TO SUMMER CAMPFIRE Friday, August 30 • 7–8:30 p.m. $5/person RA members • $8/person Non-members WNC Campfire Ring - On Soapstone Drive, between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road. All ages

As summer slips away, join us around the campfire. Use a Dutch oven to cook a special treat. Sing songs, share stories and roast a marshmallow. Reservations required by August 27.

Trees are important to every living creature.

All programs will be held at the Walker Nature Center, 11450 Glade Drive, unless otherwise noted.

Call 703-476-9689 and press 5 or e-mail for reservations and information. Advanced reservations are required for all fee-based programs. Programs may be canceled in the event of severe weather, severe weather warnings or low enrollment. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.



See how well you can mimic a firefly. Grab a small flashlight and follow these steps to have a special firefly experience.

1. At dusk or after dark, go to a yard, field or forest edge where you have seen fireflies. 2. Look for a firefly sitting on the ground or on a piece of grass flashing. This will be a female. 3. Study her flash pattern by counting how many seconds are between each flash.

4. Then move to another spot nearby where you do not see any females on the ground. 5. Point your flashlight towards the ground, and try to mimic the female’s flash pattern by quickly turning your flashlight on and off. Wait the same number of seconds between flashes that you counted earlier. 6. If you get the timing right, the males may respond to your signal and fly closer to you.



By Earl the Squirrel with help from Abby Stocking

Help the male firefly find its mate.

Here in the eastern United States, something almost magical happens in the summer. As day turns into night, little “fairies” come out and sprinkle glowing pixie dust all around. Fields, meadows and backyards come alive with a glowing light show. It is a sight enjoyed by children (and squirrels) young and old. If you’ve seen this event, then you know it isn’t really fairies lighting up the night sky. Small insects called fireflies or lightning bugs are able to create light using special body parts. Fireflies are a type of insect called a beetle (related to ladybugs). There are about 2,000 types of fireflies found all over the world, with about 200 found in the United States. Fireflies use their lights to find mates. Usually, males fly around and flash their light in a specific pattern that is common to their species. Females of the same species wait on the ground and flash their lights in response to the males. Males then find the females to mate and the females will lay eggs. Fireflies give a fascinating performance each summer. Sadly, their numbers seem to be going down because of home and street lights and chemicals used on lawns. Fortunately, scientists are working to discover ways to keep these little lights from going out. Want to help scientists learn more about fireflies? Sign up for Firefly Watch through the Boston Museum of Science at


Kid’s Corner

Wildlife Counts & Classes For adults, ages 16 and over. Counts are free. Classes are $5 or free for count participants. Volunteers are invited to enjoy a free lunch, tally results and swap stories at Nature House after the Bird and Butterfly Counts. There will be a break for lunch during the Dragonfly Count. SUMMER BIRD COUNT

Saturday, June 8 ∙ 6:45 a.m.–Noon Join us for the annual Summer Bird Count through Reston’s natural areas. Meet local bird experts, learn tips on identification and have fun while helping us obtain important information to help our feathered friends. Reservations required by June 5. BUTTERFLY CLASS: AN INTRODUCTION

Monday, July 1 ∙ 7–8:30 p.m. Discover the colorful and diverse lives of Reston’s “flying flowers.” Class will focus on the basic identification and life cycles of our local butterflies. Learn how to identify Reston’s common butterflies, and get a basic introduction to their life history. This is a great way to prepare for the Butterfly Count. Reservations required by June 28. BUTTERFLY COUNT

Saturday, July 6 ∙ 9:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Join us for the annual Butterfly Count through Reston’s natural areas. Meet fellow butterfly lovers, learn tips on identification and have fun while helping to collect important information on our fluttering friends. Our data will be submitted to the North American Butterfly Association for inclusion in their national Fourth of July Butterfly Count report. Reservations required by July 3. DRAGONFLY CLASS: AN INTRODUCTION

Thursday, July 11 ∙ 7–8:30 p.m. Learn about the fast and fascinating lives of Reston’s “flying dragons.” Join guest naturalist Kevin Munroe of the Fairfax County Park Authority as he focuses on basic identification, natural history and conservation of local dragonflies. Learn how to identify Reston’s common dragonflies, and get a basic introduction to their bizarre behavior and complex natural history. Reservations required by July 8. DRAGONFLY COUNT

Sunday, July 14 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Bright Pond - Bright Pond Lane, park at the end of the cul-de-sac. Join us for the annual Dragonfly Count through Reston’s natural areas. Meet local dragonfly experts, learn tips on identification and have fun while helping to obtain important information on our fast-flying friends. Reservations required by July 10.

Native Spotlight: SWEET PEPPERBUSH

(Clethra alnifolia) By Sharon Gurtz

Photo by: James H. Miller & Ted Bodner Organization: Southern Weed Science Society

Sweet Pepperbush (Summer Sweet) is a tall upright to rounded deciduous shrub that can grow 5 – 10’ tall and 4 – 6’ wide. The native variety can spread by rhizomes into rounded clumps and is best used to form a shrub edge or screen in moist, acidic soil. It will grow in full sun to part shade but can also grow and produce good flowers in full shade. This plant is relatively slow to establish but easy to grow afterward with few known pests. Summer Fragrance/ Nectar Source Summer sweet gets its name from the intensely fragrant, white summer flowers that grow above the plant on dense spikes or racemes 2-6” long. Fruit capsules resemble peppercorns and remain on the plant into winter. The 1.5 – 4” green leaves will turn golden-brown to yellow in fall. Sweet Pepperbush is an important nectar plant for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. The dense foliage provides nesting sites and cover for wildlife and songbirds will eat the seed heads. If you need a shrub for an edge or screen, or for a low wet spot such as a pond or water garden edge, this is a wonderful plant. Investigate the cultivars, some of which are smaller and more compact, that could make a nice addition to your landscaped yard. Sweet Pepperbush also makes an ideal substitute for the invasive Japanese Barberry or Winged Burning Bush. References: and

Energy Fair

Sunday, July 14 • 1 – 4 p.m. • Free Admission A small materials fee of no more than $5 may be charged for some activities. Join us for Reston’s first Community Energy Fair sponsored by the Walker Nature Center and Sustainable Reston, in conjunction with the Green Living workshop, How to Build a Solar Generator. The fair will feature: · Alternative energy gadgets and appliances · How to make a voltaic penny battery and light · How to charge devices during a power outage · How to build a passive solar air collector for heating rooms or shops · A solar cooking demonstration · Ways to reduce your carbon footprint through home energy efficiency and conservation · And other handy tips on how to conserve energy in your daily life Representatives from Reston Environmental Action (REACT) and the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) will be available to discuss their programs, designed to help homeowners conserve energy.


PRSRT STD US POSTAGE PAID RESTON, VA PERMIT NO. 21 Walker Nature Center 11450 Glade Drive Reston, Virginia 20191


Come to Camp at Nature House



These walks are geared to families with children ages 10 and over.

They will help budding naturalists identify and learn about local birds. Bring binoculars if you have them and your curiosity. Co-sponsored by the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. Leader: Bill Brown. No reservations required.

Saturday, June 15 8–10 a.m. Saturday, August 24 8–10 a.m.

6–8 by Sept. 30, 2013

DATES: Monday–Friday, Four one-week sessions

TIME: 9 a.m.–Noon

LOCATION: Walker Nature Center 11450 Glade Drive

FEE: $80 session/RA members $105 session/Non-members

REGISTER: Online at or in person at 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive., Reston, VA 20191

CONTACT: 703-435-6551

Parents: Drop off your child at this morning jam-packed with outdoor fun! We will pick up where camp ended with fun and exciting outdoor activities Kids: Go on a wild safari! Discover which creatures live under logs in the forest. Play a game of camouflage critters. Search for tadpoles, minnows and insects in a cool stream. Finish with a campfire and a traditional campfire treat. Reservations required by August 14. Call (703) 476-9689 and press 5 or e-mail to sign up.


Super Scientists Session 2A: July 8–12

Step into our lab and get ready to explore the fascinating world of science. Collect samples to view under a microscope. Discover where energy comes from and take a ride on our energy bicycle. Learn how to make a solar oven out of a pizza box and then use it to roast a marshmallow. Explore wacky weather and make a tornado in a bottle. Conduct simple chemistry experiments and explore the science of color mixing by tie-dying your own t-shirt.

Globe Trotters Session 2B: July 15–19

Grab your passport and your imagination, because we’re setting out for adventure! Follow the trail of a wacky scientist who is searching for rare plants and animals across the globe. Search the nature center woods and streams for salamanders. Journey through a rainforest in search of disappearing poison dart frogs. Explore the hot sands of the Sahara Desert to locate plants that survive with little water. Pull out your winter clothes as we brave the cold of the South Pole in our search for Emperor Penguins. Design a new species of animal and decide where it will live.

Gone Buggy Session 4A: August 5–9

In the trees, on the flowers, in the ground – insects are all around us. Become a junior entomologist and study the lives of our local insects. Use a net to find insects in a meadow and look at a butterfly’s wing under a microscope. Make bug juice and use it to attract moths and other nocturnal insects. Dip in a creek to look for young dragonflies and diving beetles. Make a rock insect and decorate a bug box. This week is sure to be abuzz with excitement.

Naturalist’s Path Session 4B: August 12–16

Journey through the past and discover the fascinating lives of famous naturalists. Join John Muir on a hike through the woods and make a journal of all that you see. Listen for birds with John James Audubon and use a pair of binoculars to scan the tree tops for feathered friends. Conduct plant experiments like George Washington Carver and enjoy the sounds of our local streams with Rachel Carson. Set out on your own naturalist’s path.


Branching Out

Summer 13