eNews | June 2022
A sunrise on Mt. Mansfield. © Susan Hindinger
A Field Guide to June
Spring ephemerals have begun to fade, and baby critters aboundJune has arrived, and summer is hot on its heels. Across the landscape, wildlife dramas large and small unfold. Warm breezes carry away the last memories of winter frost. June has much to offer, from tapeworms using mind-control to Eastern Cottonwoods shedding their downy seeds. Start the month off here.
VCE Announces New Executive Director
Susan on a canoe ride. © Kelsey Killoran
After a comprehensive, six-month search, Susan Hindinger has been appointed as incoming Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE). Hindinger has served as VCE’s Associate Director since 2014, adding operational leadership and helping to guide the organization’s growth. She will officially assume her new role on October 1, 2022, succeeding retiring founder Chris Rimmer.

Hindinger’s appointment was approved by unanimous vote on May 13. “During the search process, it became clear to everyone on the search committee that Susan was optimally suited to become the next leader at VCE,” says VCE Board Chair Peter Brooke. “She has a clear vision for VCE’s future, and that clarity set her apart.” 

Click here for the full story.
Backpacking Thrushes Return to Mansfield
A Bicknell's Thrush captured and tagged at Mt. Mansfield. © Tom Rogers
VCE’s first Mansfield banding session of 2022 exceeded all expectations, as we recovered 5 of 36 GPS tags that we affixed to adult Bicknell’s Thrush last summer. Preliminary data from these birdsall malesshow that four individuals overwintered in the Dominican Republic, one in Cuba, and that three birds undertook early spring movements of 25-185 km prior to northward migration.

VCE Offers New Free Bumble Bee Guide
The new two-page guide offers helpful visuals as well as tips.
This free, two-page pdf features annotated photos, defining field marks, phenology graphs, and commonly confused look-alikes. An accompanying one-page, illustrated plate is also available for download. You will soon be as proficient at identifying bumble bees by their field marks as you are with thrushes and sparrows!

Check out our full press release with links to the guide.
Lady Beetles, Butterflies, and Bees, Oh My!
A Tricolored Bumblebee pollinates a flower. © Spencer Hardy
The most diverse and numerous group of animals on Earth, invertebrates are the backbone of a healthy ecosystem. Hopefully, it won’t surprise you to learn that our bug nets hang right alongside our binoculars.

You can find out more about lady beetles, butterflies, bees, and other invertebrates we’re studying on our website, and even find a few yourself by joining a mission or participating in an upcoming BioBlitz.

Just like inverts support life as we know it here on Earth, you make all of VCE’s biodiversity research, conservation, and community science programs possible. Thanks for contributing to VCE in all the ways you do!
Rare Lady Beetle Found in Vermont Yard
Hyperaspis troglodytes in a glass vial. © Julia Pupko
On May 13, VCE ECO AmeriCorps member Julia Pupko wandered through a neighbor’s yard, looking for lady beetles, known to most people as ladybugs. "I had not found a single beetle in over an hour, which usually means I will not find any if I continue surveying," Pupko explained. "I was about to dump the contents of my net when I noticed a tiny black speck with pale yellow spots. 'Aha! An Octavia Lady Beetle!'” Or so she thought. After scooping the tiny beetle into a vial and photographing her, Pupko realized that this was a new species to her. As it turns out, this was also a new species to the state of Vermont—Hyperaspis troglodytes—which has only been recorded three times in iNaturalist across its range, which stretches from New England to the midwestern U.S.

Pupko's neighbor may not be the only person to have a rare lady beetle in their yardyou may also have one in your backyard! From June 18 to 26, the Vermont Atlas of Life team is holding their annual Lady Beetle BioBlitz. Participation is simple—whenever you find a lady beetle, simply photograph it and upload your observation to iNaturalist. Your observations will be automatically pulled into the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas. You can search anywhere from your favorite natural area to your own yard!

Follow this link to learn more about how to search for and photograph lady beetles. For more information on our search for missing lady beetles, check out this blog post.
Common Green Darners have a Mysterious Migration Through Vermont
A Common Green Darner © Josh Lincoln
The first Common Green Darners to arrive in Vermont this spring on their northward migration were actually seen in the far northern part of the state. Individuals were reported well into Ontario long before being reported in Vermont. Did they evade detection in the Northeast, or had they simply not arrived?

Read the full story on our blog to find out more about this odd migration.

Want to get involved and help us better understand dragonfly migration? Be sure to submit your observations to iNaturalist.org.
Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge BioBlitz
June 25th
A Promethea Silkmoth rests on a branch. © Kent McFarland
VCE and Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge staff are partnering to hold a BioBlitz, and it's all about insects this time around! Join us on June 25th at 8 am to have some fun out in the field and learn all about the critters that call Vermont home.

We'll start the morning off right with some birding, and then we'll break into groups to focus our efforts on specific insects. We will lead three guided group walks, focusing on dragonflies, bees, and lady beetles.

Don't worry if you want to learn about more than one group of insects because, after a quick lunch, we'll be shuffling groups to go back out into the field and do it all over again!

Vermont Atlas of Life Surpasses 500,000 Research Grade Records on iNaturalist
The top iNaturalist species of 2021
This spring, Tom Scavo snapped a photo of a Trout Lily and shared it to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Soon after, Tom Norton saw the record and agreed with the identification, elevating Scavo's observation to "research-grade." It was something that both of them have done thousands of times, but this one was special. It was the 500,000th research-grade record for our project, making this the largest biodiversity database likely ever collected for the state.

This is something we’ve all made together, but it’s larger than any one of us. Together, we’ve created a unique window into life in Vermont and thousands of species with whom we share this amazing place. Thank you!

We are now approaching 1 million observations overall. Let’s keep it going. You can help by sifting through others' observations and help to verify any that you can so we can keep expanding our research-grade database. And make sure to add more observations of your own; no matter how common or rare the species is, every observation is essential. And you can help annotate observations with life stages, phenology of flowering, associated species, and many more annotations that help make the data even richer for research and conservation.

Let’s make it a million, and learn about life in Vermont together!

Photo-observation of the Month
American Black Bear
by Craig K. Hunt
A handsome portrait of an American Black Bear. © Craig K. Hunt
Congratulations for the second month in a row to Craig Hunt for winning the Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His stunning May 2022 portrait of an American Black Bear received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month. Visit the VCE Blog for more info and view fantastic images of the runners-up in the May 2022 Photo-observation of the Month!

While it’s been said many times before, it bears repeating (apologies, I couldn’t help myself) that American Black Bears should not be approached, bothered, or habituated to humans. Craig’s full-frame portrait of this bear moving through the forests of Townshend, Vermont, was made possible by a 600mm camera lens, which allowed him to take these gorgeous images from a safe distance. While there are ways to discourage bears from visiting or damaging your yard (outlined here), these highly mobile mammals often wander through wooded properties throughout the spring and summer, providing an opportunity to admire one of Vermont’s largest mammals. To hear about a visit to an American Black Bear’s winter den, check out this episode of Outdoor Radio on VPR.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist, where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors, record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries, and you could be a winner!
The Vermont Center for Ecostudies promotes wildlife conservation across the Americas using the combined strength of scientific research and community engagement. Find us online at vtecostudies.org