This side-by-side comparison of red and gray squirrels illustrates the obvious size difference between the two North American species. Both are frequent visitors to bird feeders, and often seen chasing one another.
Unfortunately in the UK, red squirrel populations appear to be declining mainly due to gray squirrels outcompeting reds due to their ability to feed more efficiently in broadleaved woodlands. Other threats to red squirrels are disease carried by gray squirrels that is fatal to reds, as well as road traffic. Grays can reproduce during times of stress, while reds cannot.
Although both are native to North America, grays are considered an invasive species in the UK.
According to the Forestry Commission, England, the red squirrel, native to Britain, is becoming extremely rare due to the introduction of the American grey squirrel. "There are estimated to be only 140,000 red squirrels left in Britain, with over 2.5 million grey squirrels. The Forestry Commission is working with partners in projects across Britain to develop a long-term conservation strategy that deters greys and encourages reds."
If you are a backyard bird watcher in the United States, have you noticed a decline in the red squirrel population? Many years ago, they used to raise their young in our woods and entertain us daily with their feisty personalities. The above photo is the first red squirrel we've seen in our neck of the woods (New Hampshire) for several years. We spotted one dead on the road last spring, but rarely catch a glimpse of them. Let's hope we aren't faced with the same fate as the UK, and are one day working toward conserving this species.
This excerpt is from the Lakes SOS app:
Other Common Name(s): Asiatic Clam; Prosperity Clam; Pygmy Clam; Golden Clam; Good Luck Clam
Nonnative Range: Has spread throughout most states, specifically in the eastern US. See USGS map for details on Asian clam distribution
Size: Small (size varies); juveniles are 1 mm; adults as large as 5 cm wide
Description: Light green, yellowish to black-brown; oval-triangular brown shells; dorsal umbo (beak) at the peak of the shell
Habitat: Sandy substrates in freshwater; colonize near shore but may occur in deeper water
How they are Spread: Transported by boats, live wells and bait buckets; mucous thread allows them some mobility to move around lake bottoms; larva is dispersed and is carried by currents; imported sand and aquariums
Threat: Compete with and displace native species; alter the food chain; damage equipment; in large numbers can increase nitrogen contributing to algae growth; outcompete native mussels due to more rapid filter feeding; die off can create lethal doses of ammonia and kills native mussels and fish
Other Information: Are hermaphrodites; one adult can start a population; uses its siphon to filter feed suspended phytoplankton and its foot to pedal feed on bottom sediment; spawn from July through September; prolific and reach sexual maturity in a few months; benthic mats are the only effective means of eradication but can only be used in ideal lake bottom conditions
Above slide from the Quick ID section of Lakes SOS
We just finished and submitted our latest Rash Plants update (version 3.0) and are now working on Lakes SOS. You will see several new plant and fish species and more Quick ID slides in the next update!
It can be a challenge to identify poison ivy, oak and sumac in the winter. During the spring and summer months, when we spend a lot of time outdoors, we expect to see these plants and are on our toes, but what about that Sunday morning snowshoe through the woods? Are you able to identify these plants when there are no leaves present and snow covers the ground? If you are not able to do this you may wind up with a really awful mid-winter rash. Remember that all three of these species (if the plant is female) have cream colored or white berries as they mature, and should give you pause when you run across one. If you are unsure about winter identification, please download our free Rash Plants app for more winter photos or refer to our Quick ID for at a glance photos and captions that will help you learn these plants by comparing them in every season. There are many other tools to use if berries are not present in winter, among them are V or U-shaped leaf scars, alternate branching and, if the plant is poison ivy in the vine growth habit, hairy aerial roots.
Photo: Winter Poison Ivy Berries from the Rash Plants app
European green crabs are faster, more dextrous and aggressive hunters than native crabs giving them the advantage and outcompeting other species. This species native range is the Atlantic coast of Europe and northern Africa, from Norway and the British Isles south to Mauritania. Their non-native Range: South Africa, Australia, Japan, and both coasts of North America. These are easy to identify if you are able to get a good look at the carapace and count the spines. Typically, invasive crab species have fewer than 5 (sometimes 6) spines, whereas native species in the US have more than 6.
Photo from: Coastal SOS app
The latest update to Naturedigger's Rash Plants is now available! There are tons of new functions and a completely new interface. We would love to hear your thoughts and always appreciate feedback, good or bad. That's how we continue to improve our apps!