Page 1

Walker Nature Education Center

A look inside • Wildlife Counts 3 • Calendar of Events 4 • Kid’s Corner 6 • Banned Invasive 7

Branching Out

Nature Notes Lifetime of By Sharon Gurtz


a Summer

By Ken Rosenthal

• Bullfrogs are calling. • Black Rat Snakes lay eggs. • White-tailed Deer fawns are born. • Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed and Common Milkweed bloom.

July • Tent Caterpillar moths emerge from cocoons. • Monarch and Red Admiral butterflies arrive. • Jewelweed, Wild Bergamot and Cardinal Flower bloom. • Cicadas buzz.

August • Copperhead snakes give birth to live young. • Stonecrop, Blazing Star and Goldenrod bloom. • Squirrels begin cutting hickory nuts. • Fall bird migration begins.

Summer is a time of recreation, a favorite of schoolchildren who enjoy a respite from homework and grades. I look forward to summer, to time spent with friends and family and to finishing projects I have set for myself. For insects and their relatives, however, summer is the only time. It is the most active and important segment of what is a very short lifetime. Metamorphosis - The great change

Insects go through a series of physiological changes to reach adulthood. The two best-known examples are simple and complete metamorphosis. Simple metamorphosis is the type of development

employed by grasshoppers. An egg hatches, producing a larva that looks just like a miniature adult. The grasshopper increases in size through 6 to 10 molts, and eventually grows wings, the sign of a mature adult. This type of metamorphosis is closest to how we humans develop, although without the hassle of molting. Other insects go through complete metamorphosis. The larva that hatches from an egg looks nothing like the adult. A larva’s job is simple: eat and get bigger. The caterpillar of the Monarch butterfly Continued on page 2

Summer 11

Volume Thirteen

Walker Nature Education Center 11450 Glade Drive, Reston, VA 20191

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.

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 for Independence Day.

For more information

703-476-9689 Branching Out is a quarterly publication of the Walker Nature Education Center (WNEC), owned and operated by Reston Association. The mission of the WNEC 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.

Please Recycle.


Molting is the shedding of the exoskeleton. Unlike us, insects’ skeletons are external. When we look at an insect, we are not seeing skin or scales, but an insect’s exoskeleton. This structure provides shape, color and protection, but also limits their ability to grow. They need to molt periodically to grow larger. Diapause - the big sleep

Winter is the monkey wrench in the life cycle of insects. Insects are ectothermicmeaning they do not maintain a stable internal temperature. Because winter provides a chill during which few can be active, insects rely on a delay in development called diapause. Diapause is a response to poor environmental conditions, such as drought, reduced food availability or extreme temperatures, like winter. Different insects go through diapause during different stages. An insect can overwinter in any stage of development and this is dependent on the needs of the life cycle. In species where the larva, such as a caterpillar, depends on leafy vegetation, it is advantageous for the egg to be the overwintering stage. When the egg hatches in spring, there is a fresh growth of plant material to eat. For moth or butterfly species that depend on specific plants, their life cycle is often timed precisely to coincide with their host plant’s life cycle. Many of our local insects go through this annual life cycle, where winter causes a delay in development, or diapause, at some point in the insect’s life cycle and is the ending point of their adult life. The adults live long enough to mate and lay eggs, providing a future generation. Some insects live even shorter lives, having several generations during the summer. Cicadas - The exception

There are always exceptions to every rule. Cicadas are longer-lived than most insects. The annual cicadas, which we hear more than see, emerge in late summer to fill the airwaves with their pulsating, loud buzzes. They spend two to three years as larva feeding on tree roots underground before they emerge. The Periodical Cicada holds the record for insect longevity, spending 16 years underground before emerging as an adult in its 17th year. These red-eyed cicadas last emerged locally in 2004 and are not due to make their return until 2021. Small in size and short in life expectancy, insects still manage to have a significant impact on the environment. Insects are important food sources for many animals such as frogs, bats and birds. In some human cultures, insects are important pollinators for both staple crops and flowering plants. They are also significant agents in nutrient cycling within most ecosystems. Thinking about this always causes me to reevaluate how I spent my summer and what I accomplished. Not as much as some insects, perhaps, but I always have next summer. Ken Rosenthal is the nature center’s new Naturalist. He enjoys insects and their kin, having overcome a childhood filled with irrational fears and embarrassing screams at the mere proximity of six-legged beasties. Stop by Nature House and he’ll be glad to share resources and a story or two about his favorite insects.

Cicada photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University,

Enjoy year-round access to trails, free parking and restroom facilities dawn to dusk.

Lifetime of Summer continued from page 1. eats so much that when it gets ready to pupate it is 2,000 times bigger than when it hatched. The pupa stage uses the energy gathered during the larval stage to aid in the insect’s transformation. Inside the pupal case, old structures break down into a shapeless liquid, which is then reorganized to form the body structures of the adult. One final molt, the emergence from the pupal case, produces the new adult.

Acoustic Music Jam Nature House Multipurpose Room

1 - 4 p.m. on second Sundays in summer (June 12, July 10 and Aug. 14) Bring your instruments, voices, family and friends.

All styles and levels of experience welcome. Refreshments provided.

Contact nature center volunteers, Rick and Karen Elliott for further information: or 703-476-1191.

Wildlife Counts & Classes Ages 16 - Adult. Call 703-476-9689 and press 5 or e-mail to sign up or for more information. Please meet at Walker Nature Education Center unless otherwise noted. information on our fluttering friends. Our data will be submitted to the North American Butterfly Association for inclusion in their Join us for the half-day annual Summer Bird national Fourth of July Butterfly Count throughout Reston’s Red-eye Vireo by John Benson Count report. Enjoy lunch, tally natural areas. Meet local results and swap stories back at the bird experts, learn tips on Nature House. Reservations required identification and have fun by June 29. while helping us obtain

Summer Bird Count Saturday, June 4 • 6:45 a.m. - Noon

important information to help our feathered friends. Enjoy lunch, tally results and swap stories back at the Nature House. Noon - 12:30 p.m. (optional lunch provided). Reservations required by June 1.

Butterfly Class: An Introduction Thursday, June 30 • 7 - 8:30 p.m.

$5/person, free for butterfly count participants Discover the colorful and diverse lives of Reston’s “flying flowers.” The class will focus on the basic identification and life cycles of our local butterflies. Through a combination of field guides, handouts and a Power Point presentation, learn how to identify Reston’s common butterflies and get a basic introduction to their life history. This class is a great way to prepare for the Reston Butterfly Count. Reservations required by June 27.

Summer Butterfly Count Saturday, July 2 • 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

Dragonfly Class: An Introduction Thursday, July 14 7 - 8:30 p.m.

$5/person, free for count participants 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. Through a combination of handouts, field guides and a PowerPoint presentation, 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 11.

Dragonfly Count Sunday, July 17 • 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Meet at the RA pathway between 11317 and 11319 Bright Pond Lane. 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 13.

Please & Thank You The ongoing 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.


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 like new condition, please contact or call 703-435-6510. Friends of Reston will provide you with a letter of receipt for tax purposes. Wish List: binoculars, freezer, black oil sunflower seeds for feeders, The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide by Terence Dickinson & Alan Dyer, Oddhopper Opera, A Bug’s Garden of Verses by Kurt Cyrus and any of the Crinkleroot books.

Thank You to the Following Donors:

Active Duty Fitness; David & Joanne Bauer; Bonzai Sports; Larry & Melanie Butler; The Business Bank; Calvert Rejuvenations; Canoe, Kayak & Paddle Company; Capital Cuisine Caterers; Clean Fairfax Council; Dogfish Head Alehouse; Fairfax Screen Printing; Footsteps of Reston; Friends of Reston; Michael & Melissa Gildea; Glory Days Grill; Jasmine Café; Jim Kirby Photography; KLS Studios; Ray & Mary Lynne Leonhard; Northern Virginia Stream Restoration Bank; Chadwick, Washington, P.C.; Jodi Nelson; Potomac River Running; Pure Joe Pilates; Reston Community Center; Reston Curves; Reston Pilates; Reston Sprint Triathlon; Richard P. Slater Financial Planning; Sonak Family Chiropractic; SunTrust Bank; Claudia Thompson-Deahl; Tim Harmon 5K; Virginia Urban Forest Council; Wetland Studies & Solutions; Whistles in the Cattails; Whole Foods Market; and all 161 of the 5K Fund Run participants.

Thank You to the Following Volunteers:

Manas Adams, American University APO, Ken Andrews, Shawn Armao, Carolyn Badila, Mary & Richard Badley, Bajraktari Family, David & Joanne Bauer, Diane Blust, Ben Bond, Charlie & Julie Bond, Brandland Family, Erin Brandt, Bill Brown, Nancy Callahan, Anne Cannizaro, Javier Carrasco, Bridget Courts, Nancy Davis, Freya De Cola, DeLillio Family, Karen & Rick Elliott, June Ferrara, Pam Findley, Anna & Becky Findley, Kat Fleckenstein, Cindy Foster, Phyllis George, Ben Graff, George Graning, Amanda Hartigan, Carol & Jay Hadlock, George & Susan Hasuike, Katie & Rachel Heatherly, Nancy Herwig, Jonathan Hunter, Tom Joyner, Marlena Kauer, Matthew Kelly, Sachi Koulgi, Beth Lannon, Gabby Leigh, Alex Leonhard, Ray & Mary Lynne Leonhard,  John Lin, Catherine Linberg, Dick Manness, Kurt McJilton, Rachel Meurs, Bob Mowbray, Catherine Mraz, Polly Noble, Casey Noll, Alix & Josh Nyden, Cynthia O’Connell, Joan Olinger, George Paine, Barbara Paolucci, Barbara Pelzner, Ellen Perrins, Ponmali Phoavath, Sheryl Pollock, Andy Rabin, Jodi Rakoff, Ramki Ramanarayanan, Reston Garden Club, Reston Jaycees, Lilly Rezaee, Sarah Robinson, Mariel Rodriguez, Ron Rubin, Matteo Rul, Dana Runz, Natasha Russell, Susan Russell-Robinson, Mike & Dana Scheurer, Mary Shedlock, Jonah Shehid, Margo Sterling, Todd Strelon, Rohit Tadikamalla, Ross Taylor, Tiger Den Pack 1170, Victoria Tran, Cathy Tunis, Elizabeth Vitale, Sonia Wali, Carolyn Williams, Joshua Ya, Ethel Yanforh, Sam Yi



June A Visit to the South Side Sunday, June 5 • 2 - 3 p.m.

$4/person RA members $6/person non-members All Ages Take a guided walk along some of the trails found in the historic south side of the nature center property. Do you know how the Crooked Oak Trail got its name or how far you can ride on the old bridle path? View the newly restored Glade stream and see what is hopping or buzzing around the wetland pool. Explore this piece of Reston’s preserved past. Reservations required by June 2.

Walking Stick Workshop Monday, June 6 • 7 - 8 p.m.

$5/child RA members $8/child non-members Ages 5 to 12 Summer vacation is the perfect time to explore new places. Come listen to a story about a famous nature explorer, listen to songs by Walkin’ Jim Stolz and make a cool walking stick that can travel with you on your next hike. Reservations required by June 2.

Marvelous Moths Thursday, June 9 • 10 - 11 a.m.

$5/child RA members $8/child non-members Ages 3 to 5 Moths are like butterflies of the night. Discover how moths hide themselves during the day and go on a search for these hidden insects. Make a luna moth craft and mix up a special moth bait to use for discovering moths outside your own home. Reservations required by June 6.

Busy Bugs Saturday, June 11 • 11 a.m. - Noon

$5/person RA members $8/person non-members All Ages Reston’s natural areas are a buzz. Learn to identify the calls of the loudest insects around us and look under logs to find the most quiet. Take a hike to find insects that are at work helping our forest, then find out how you can help protect our woods from an insect that is devastating ash trees all over the eastern United States. Make a bug box craft to take home. Reservations required by June 8.

June Bird Walk: Lower Glade Stream Valley Sunday, June 12 • 7:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Glade Stream Valley, park on Glade Drive at Twin Branches Road. Leaders: Joanne & David Bauer.

Buzzing Bees Monday, June 13 • 10 - 11 a.m.

$5/child RA members $8/child non-members Ages 18 months to 35 months Flowers are blooming and bees are busy gathering


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. All programs will be held at the Walker Nature Education Center 11450 Glade Drive, un nectar and pollen. Get your own antennae and stingers and fly around like a bee. Make a bee craft and taste a yummy honey treat. Get the buzz at the nature center. Reservations required by June 9.

Campfire Fun Friday, June 17 • 7 - 8:30 p.m.

$5/person RA members $8/person non-members All ages WNEC Campfire Ring - On Soapstone Drive, between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road. Summer is on its way and what better way to celebrate than around a crackling campfire. Sing summer songs, tell jokes, roast marshmallows and enjoy an evening of fun. Reservations required by June 14.

Backyard Astronomy Tuesday, June 28 • 8 - 10 p.m.

$5/person RA members $8/person non-members All ages (not recommended for preschoolers, please bring 1 adult for every 1-2 children) Spend the first hour inside learning to use a star and constellation chart as well as key star finding terms. Make your own star finder or “planisphere” to determine which stars and constellations are visible. Then, we will head outdoors to the Lake Audubon Pool lot to explore the night sky - weather and clouds permitting. Please bring a telescope and binoculars if you have them. We will have a few that can be shared. Leader: Karen Elliott, VA certified Earth and Space Science Educator.

JULY Knee Deep in a Creek Thursday, July 7 • 10:30 a.m. - Noon

$5/child RA members $8/child non-members Ages 3 to 5 Buttermilk Creek Nature Trail - 11032 Ring Road, park at Uplands Pool. July’s hot days are perfect for dipping your feet into a cool stream. Enjoy the crisp water while looking for creatures like crayfish, minnows, and maybe even a salamander. Wear wading shoes and clothes that can get dirty. We’ll provide nets and buckets. Reservations required by July 5.

Environmental Film Night: The End of Suburbia (Encore Presentation) Friday, July 8 • 7 - 9 p.m.

$5 suggested donation Adults The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream is an award-winning documentary that examines the history and wisdom of distinctly American, suburban life. A post-World War II concept, suburbia attracted droves of people, giving rise to sprawl and all that’s comes with it - good and bad. After the film, participate in a discussion about how the film relates to life in Reston in 2011 and beyond. Brought to you in partnership with Sustainable Reston. Reservations required by July 5.

Creeking Monday, July 11 • 10 - 11:30 a.m.

$5/child RA members $8/child non-members Ages 18 months to 35 months Buttermilk Creek Nature Trail - 11032 Ring Road, park at Uplands Pool. Take a refreshing slosh through Buttermilk Creek, and look for salamanders and minnows. 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 6.

Fireflies in July Friday, July 15 • 7 - 8:30 p.m.

$5/person RA members $8/person non-members All ages Brown’s Chapel - 1575 Brown’s Chapel Road. Fireflies, also known as lightning bugs, are fascinating insects. Discover what makes them glow and why they blink their lights on and off. Find out what they eat, how they grow and where they live. Learn how to attract them to your yard and take home a glowing treat. Reservations required by July 12.

Geocaching for All Saturday, July 16 • 11 a.m. - Noon

$4.00/person RA members $6/person non-members All ages Geocaching is high tech treasure hunting, using a handheld GPS unit to find hidden containers.

ndar of Events

Photo of Luna Moth taken at WNEC.

nless otherwise noted. Join NoVAGO (Northern Virginia Geocaching Organization) for a quick lesson, then look for caches (treasures) hidden on the nature center property. Let us know if you need to borrow a GPS unit. Reservations required by July 13.


Reptiles Rock! Wednesday, July 20 • 7 - 8 p.m.

$5/child RA members $8/child non-members Ages 18 months to 35 months Stroll down to Lake Audubon to discover animals that live there. Dip a net into the water and search for minnows, tadpoles and more. Enjoy a snack and listen to a lakeshore reading of Rainbow Fish. Reservations required by July 28.

$5/child RA members $8/child non-members Ages 5 to 12 Learn about Reston’s cold-blooded animals. Meet the nature center’s live reptile friends. Touch a snake, feed a turtle and make a reptile craft. Reservations required by July 15.

July Bird Walk: Twin Branches Nature Trail Sunday, July 24 • 7:30 - 10:30 a.m. Twin Branches Trail - Twin Branches Road at Glade Drive. Leader: Jenny Vick

Colonial Campfire Friday, July 29 • 7 - 8:30 p.m.

$5/person RA members $8/person non-members All ages WNEC Campfire Ring - On Soapstone Drive, between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road. Travel back to the 1700s as we explore what life was like in colonial times. Sing period songs, try period games and hear stories from Virginia’s earliest days. We’ll even make a tasty colonial treat over the fire. Reservations required by July 26.

Paper Making Sunday, July 31 • 2 - 3 p.m.

$5/person RA members $8/person non-members All ages Since ancient Egyptian times, people have been making paper for both artistic and practical purposes. Learn the process of making paper and experiment making some using a variety of recycled papers and fibers. Get ideas on how to use homemade paper for a variety of crafts and gifts. Reservations required by July 28.

Life in the Lake Monday, Aug. 1 • 10 - 11 a.m.

Van Trip: Eagles and Endangered Squirrels at Blackwater NWR Saturday, Aug. 6 • 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Ages 12 years through Adult (Under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.) $10/person RA members $15/person non-members Join an RA naturalist for a day-trip to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, home to one of the largest populations of breeding Bald Eagles on the East Coast and to the largest remaining population of the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel. Over 350 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians may be seen here. We will cruise the wildlife drive, searching for inhabitants of the tidal marsh, hike a pair of short trails and view wildlife from an observation deck of the marsh. Be sure to bring a bag lunch, sunscreen and insect repellent. Reservations required by Aug. 3.

Stream Slosh Sunday, Aug. 7 • 2 - 3 p.m.

$4/person RA members $6/person non-members All ages There’s nothing better than sloshing around in a cool, refreshing stream on a hot summer day. Explore the life cycle of a frog and look for aquatic insects and their homes. Wear your wading shoes and clothes that can get dirty. We will provide nets and buckets. Reservations required by Aug. 4.

Puppet Show: Earl’s Lunch Saturday, Aug. 13 • 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. $5/child RA members $8/child non-members Ages 3 to 5

Munch on a morning snack while you enjoy a creative puppet show about what the animals at the nature center like to eat. Afterwards, create an animal puppet of your own to take home. Reservations required by Aug. 10.

Salute to Summer Campfire Friday, Aug. 19 • 7 - 8:30 p.m.

$5/person RA members $8/person non-members All ages WNEC Campfire Ring - On Soapstone Drive, between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road. Join a naturalist around the campfire while we enjoy summer’s evening splendors as the season slips away. Sing songs, play games and taste s’mores treats while gazing upon a glowing fire. Reservations required by Aug. 16.

Sounds of Summer Saturday, Aug. 20 • 11 a.m. - Noon

$4/person RA members $6/person non-members All ages Frogs croak and katydids chirp. Summer is a noisy time of year in nature. Listen to the different calls of foxes, owls and other animals. Take a stroll through the woods to see how many of these noisy critters we can hear in their natural habitat. Reservations required by Aug. 17.

August Bird Walk: Fred Crabtree Park Sunday, August 28 ∙ 7:30 - 10:30 a.m. Fred Crabtree Park: 2801 Fox Mill Road. Park at Crossfield Elementary School, 2791 Fox Mill Road, meet in the first parking area on the left. Leader: Bill Brown.

Night Hike Wednesday, Aug. 31 • 8 - 9 p.m.

$4/person RA members $6/person non-members All ages Test your night vision as you explore the forest after sunset. Which animals are finding a place to sleep and which are just waking up? Listen to the sounds of the night chorus and tune your senses into a new kind of nightlife. Reservations required by Aug. 26.



Moth Match


Match the picture of the moth with its name. A. Luna Moth (Hint: Look for a large, pale green moth named after the Roman moon goddess.)


Photo by Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Forestry Archive,

B. Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth (Hint: Look for a small, brown moth with white stripes.)

Photo by Sheryl Pollock

3 Photo by Arnold T. Drooz, USDA Forest Service,

A:3 B:2 C:4 D:1

C. Polyphemus Moth (Hint: Look for large moth with huge eyespots--dark circles that are fake eyes.)

Night Fliers

By Earl the Squirrel with help from Abby Stocking

In the summer, I sometimes like to stay up late to look for some marvelous creatures of the night. I’m not thinking of bats or owls (which are great to watch), but about moths. Moths can have a bad reputation for being the insects that put holes in your clothes but there is so much more to moths than that. Moths are a type of insect. They are similar to butterflies because they have six legs and two pairs of wings that are covered with scales. Like butterflies, moths hatch from eggs as caterpillars. The caterpillars eat and grow until they spin themselves into cocoons. Finally, the adult moth climbs out of the cocoon and prepares to fly into the night sky. Adult moths are known for their chubby bodies and feathery antennae. They use their antennae to smell things. Butterflies also have antennae but they are very thin with knobs on the ends.


Answer Key to Moth Match

D. Great Leopard Moth (Hint: Look for a white moth with black and white spots.)

Many moths are dull colored, which helps them to be camouflaged, or blend in, with their surroundings. However, the Giant Silkmoths can be quite large and beautifully colored. One of my favorites is the Luna Moth. This pale green moth can be spotted in Reston in early summer. Its wingspan can be 4 ½ inches wide, making it one of the largest moths in America. I hope you’ll spend some nights this summer on a search for moths. With sharp eyes, you may be able to find them during the day as they rest on trees and other plants. I’ve included my favorite recipe for moth bait to help you get started.

Moth Bait

Moths enjoy sweet nectar from flowers. Mix up this bait to lure them to your home. You can also hang a white sheet outside near the bait. Shine a light on it all night, and in the morning, check it to see who has come to visit.

Ingredients: 1 cup fruit juice • 2 large ripe bananas • ¼ cup sugar or honey

Measure the fruit juice into a large bowl. Cover it and let it sit on the counter for 2 days. Next, add the bananas. Use a fork to mash the bananas into the juice. Then add the sugar or honey. Stir it all together. Before dark, use a large, flat paintbrush to spread the mixture onto a fence, tree or other flat surface. About an hour after dark, go outside with a flashlight, and check to see if any moths or other insects have found your sweet concoction.

Kid’s Corner

Perfect Spring Day Draws Record Attendance By Katie Shaw On April 30, Mother Nature sang a sweet tune. With sunny skies and temperatures in the 70’s, nearly 800 people visited the nature center to participate in the 8th Annual 5K Fund Run and Spring Festival. In the morning, 161 people crossed the finish line at the race, which raised approximately $7,000 for Nature House. Participants ranged in age from five to 87 years old. The top male finisher was Kevin Bell. The top female finisher was Andie Diaz and the top youth finisher was Lars Kolankiewicz. Congratulations to all who participated and many thanks to Friends of Reston for organizing this fundraiser each year. The afternoon brought hundreds of festival goers of all ages. They bought native plants, took boats out on Lake Audubon, met live animals and enjoyed 27 information and activity booths. The Reston Community Center sponsored a puppet show by Bob Brown Puppets that packed the multipurpose room and a performance by the South Lakes High School String Quartet that filled Nature House with music as beautiful as the birds chirping outside the windows. The success of these events was made possible by more than 50 outstanding volunteers who worked alongside our terrific staff. Photos can be seen on the Reston Association Facebook. Association

Banned Invasive Exotic Plant: Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) By Christina Yacobi

Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), known commonly as Asian or Asiatic Bittersweet, is an invasive woody vine that originally entered the United States from eastern Asia, China, Korea and Japan as an ornamental landscape plant in the early 1860s. It is now found in 25 states and the District of Columbia. A versatile vine, it survives varying soils, light and climates. Its vast geographic spread is due to quick spreading underground rhizomes and stolons, suckering growths off the main stem, seed dispersal by small mammals and birds, and improperly discarded fall wreaths and floral decorations. A deciduous vine, its tenacious twining habit quickly overcomes shrubs, trees or any obstacle in its path while smothering the understory, girdling trees and preventing photosynthesis. Its glossy leaves are almost round and two to five inches long with finely toothed margins. They are alternately positioned along the vine. Older vines easily reach in excess of four inches in diameter. Both male and female vines have tiny, nondescript greenishyellow flowers arranged in clusters. The female vine is a prolific fall fruiter with multitudes of small, orange-red berries.

Native Alternatives - (To be featured in future issues.)

Numerous native vines provide attractive, wildlife friendly alternatives to Oriental Bittersweet. Some even provide semi-evergreen groundcover. Unfortunately, it is not recommended that you replace the invasive vine with our native American Bittersweet or False Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) because it can hybridize with the invasive species and often nurseries inadvertently mislabel the invasive Oriental Bittersweet as our native plant. Try our graceful native Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) with its upright spreading habit, attractive two-tone yellow and coral to red trumpet-shaped flowers. Its clustered red and black berries make it an excellent food source for native wildlife like songbirds, squirrels, hummingbirds, butterflies and ladybugs. It can be semi-evergreen, retains fruit from August-March and sometimes flowers year-round. Also consider Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata), Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).

Control Method Control or removal through a combination of manual, mechanical or chemical means during the months of March to September (prior to fruiting) is best. Start removal at ground level on the tree, leaving no stump and going up at least six feet. Remove all roots. Carefully bag and dispose of all remnants due to their high susceptibility for rooting and resprouting. Conscientious use of the herbicide Roundup® on leafy regrowth helps prevent further spreading.

Why These Plants Were Banned Invasive exotic plants outcompete native plants that are important to local wildlife and biodiversity. For more information on invasive exotics, the banned species and recommended native alternatives, please visit, “Parks, Recreation & Events”, “Nature”. In May of 2008, the RA Board of Directors banned the new installation of eight invasive exotic plants on residential and cluster property in Reston. In each issue, Branching Out will feature one of these invasive exotics. Invasive exotic plants grow aggressively in yards and often spread to neighboring properties and natural areas.

7 Walker Nature Education Center 11450 Glade Drive Reston, Virginia 20191

Come to Camp at Nature House ...


Rangers Ages: 6 – 8 by Sept. 30, 2011 Dates: Monday – Friday, Time: 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Location: Walker Nature Education 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

Kids OUtdoors Wednesday, August 24 9 a.m. - Noon

$15/child RA members $20/child non-members Ages 6 to 8


Nature Explorers

Micro World

Session 2A: July 11 – 15

Session 4A: Aug. 8 – 12

Hiking and camping can be a lot of fun, and it’s good to know the basics of each. Make a list of the tools every nature explorer should have. Learn the principles of “Leave No Trace” hiking and camping. Use a GPS unit to find hidden treasures. Practice what to do if you ever get lost in the woods. Build a campfire and make some yummy treats.

Ants, beetles, slugs and worms help make up nature’s micro world. Get down low and see how many little things live under a log. Look at pond water through a microscope to see how it teems with life. Use a magnifying glass to examine the bark of a tree, the underside of a leaf and even the tip of your finger. Build a terrarium so you can take home your own micro world.

Green Gardeners Session 2B: July 18 – 22 Ever wonder what it means to have a green thumb? Find out during an exciting week of digging in the dirt. Grow plants from seeds, decorate a flowerpot and run plant experiments. Learn how to make compost and go on a search for nature’s “gardeners.” Play parachute games to show how seeds move around and visit the nature center’s gardens and meadows.

Water Wonders Session 4B: Aug. 15 – 19 Water is essential to life and it can be a lot of fun, too. Dip into a creek to find the critters that live in water. Cast a line into Lake Audubon to try to hook a fish. Sketch a watery scene and paint with watercolors. Have a water balloon toss and participate in water relays. Discover how “cool” water can be, especially during the hot days of summer.

Parents: Drop off your child at this action packed morning of outdoor fun. Just because summer camps are winding down, your child doesn’t need to become a couch potato. Kids: Answer the call of the wild. Learn some tips, tricks and techniques of basic wilderness survival. Pitch a tent. Play a game of search and rescue. Discover what all backcountry hikers should carry in their packs. Find a hidden treasure in the woods using basic tools of navigation. Reservations required by Aug. 19. Call 703-476-9689 and press 5 or e-mail to sign up.

Branching Out



Branching Out Summer 2011  

2011 Summer Issue of Walker Nature Education Center's Nature Publication

Branching Out Summer 2011  

2011 Summer Issue of Walker Nature Education Center's Nature Publication