Pat Shingleton: "Wildflowers and Insects"
This year a great biology teacher died and his name was Bob Fredericks. Riverside High School was a relatively new high school compared to others in Western Pennsylvania and Mr. Fredericks brought a level of education that his students embraced. Ironically, his mother was my fifth grade teacher at North Star School. Our advanced biology class included an assignment of collecting 50 species of insects, 50 different species of wild flowers and 50 leaves from trees within our area. Butterfly nets were provided along with a "Ball" jar laced with formaldehyde to "prepare" the bugs. Leaves were picked, pressed, mounted and identified as to class and species. As for the insects, Darryl Smialek made the task easier by putting the top down on his convertible as we motored through the valleys with eight nets protruding from the car. Trekking through the "woods" on a beautiful Spring day with my girlfriend, Sue Welsh, accomplished the plant-collecting assignment even though her Mom and Dad were disturbed that she contracted poison ivy. The U.S. Forest Service releases a wildflower map that identifies hundreds of locations, on and outside National Forests, for prime wildflower identifications. The map includes 317 wildflower viewing areas on National Forest System lands, referenced by state. Their website also includes more than 10,000 plant images. Regardless of your travels for our final April weekend, you can check seasonal and territorial wildflowers at: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/viewing/.