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Ask the Naturalist

A bird? A bug? Something strange in the natural world nearby? Ask us and we’ll find the answer! And check here for answers to great questions you didn’t even know you had. Top questions find their way to top naturalist Michael Ellis, who writes a column for our print magazine.

Are Baby Rattlesnakes the Most Dangerous Biters?

May 01, 2018 by Tony Iwane

People often say baby rattlesnake bites are more dangerous than adult rattlesnake bites. Is the conventional wisdom correct?

5 Comments

Are There Any Plants That Do Not Photosynthesize?

April 17, 2018 by Trent Pearce

Can a plant live without photosynthesizing?

No Comments

What’s New With Jupiter’s Great Red Spot?

March 30, 2018 by Michael Ellis

New research yields new insight into the nature of the planet Jupiter.

No Comments

Are There More Crows and Ravens in the Bay Area These Days?

March 27, 2018 by Adrian Cotter

Corvids move noisily into new areas. Are they arriving, or returning?

13 Comments

If I Pull Invasive Ivy Down from Trees, Does it Hurt the Ecosystem?

March 13, 2018 by Cat Chang

A reader wonders: should I pull out creeping ivy, or has it created its own ecosystem with plants and animals that rely on it?

3 Comments

How Do You Identify Small Brown Moths?

February 27, 2018 by Tony Iwane

A reader finds a small brown moth, the type you regularly see under porchlights. Where do you begin to identify it?

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Ask the Naturalist: What Are These Mysterious Tiny “Eggs”?

February 14, 2018 by Angela Pai

A reader finds what looks like pomegranate seeds at the base of her maple tree. Are they eggs? Galls? Or something else?

2 Comments

When Octopuses Thrived in the San Francisco Bay

January 30, 2018 by Andrew Cohen

Do octopus live in the Bay? Marine biologist Andrew Cohen's answer may surprise you.

2 Comments

Why Do You Find So Many Monarchs on Eucalyptus Trees?

January 16, 2018 by Liam O'Brien

Monarch butterflies are often found in huge clusters on eucalyptus trees. Why do they seemingly prefer these non-natives?

5 Comments

Ask the Naturalist: Look a Big Spider in the Mouth to Tell if It’s a Tarantula or Not

January 03, 2018 by Tony Iwane

A reader found a huge spider. Is it a tarantula?

No Comments

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