AMC Field Guide Series

If you happen to leave an outside light on overnight at this time of year, you may be greeted by one of our silk moth species in the morning. This male Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) was photographed at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center one early July morning. With a wing span of 4-6 sizes…

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In July 2014, working as part of a team surveying plants above the Alpine Garden on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, I came across many interesting native flora: arctic lichens, elfin tundra clubmoss, even a rare white-flowered rhododendron. The most remarkable find, though, was a distinctly unpleasant surprise: a patch of non-native dandelions blooming high on the…

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The eastern hemlock can grow to more than 150 feet tall and live more than 500 years, but the tree’s future is threatened by a tiny bug. The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is an invasive species that was accidentally imported on nursery stock from Japan. First reported in the eastern United States near Richmond, Va.,…

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It’s early October 2015, and Marielle Anzelone is strolling among the wildflowers—some of them past bloom, others still pushing out petals in spite of the shortening days. There are violets, fritillaries, evening primrose, roundhead lespedeza, milkweed, mountain mint, dogwood, and white mulberry, all of whose heads have either gone to seed or long crumbled to…

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The writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau famously mourned how tame the wilderness of his day had become. On his rambles in mid-19th century Massachusetts, he saw no cougar, wolf, bear, moose, deer, beaver, or turkey. These and other animals had been displaced or killed outright, their forested habitats transformed into active farmland. Now, as…

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For budding young marine biologists, or even just animal or ocean lovers, tidal pools offer oodles of opportunity for exploration. Found along the shore, these pools form in depressions in the sand or in pockets between rocks when the tide recedes, leaving small temporary habitats for all sorts of marine life. As with Leave No…

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When hiking in the mountains, you’re often reminded to stick to the trails to protect alpine plants. But it’s not just diapensia or dwarf cinquefoil that’s eking out an existence in these high elevations. The rare northern bog lemming also calls some of our alpine environment home. This small mammal weighs just an ounce and…

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It’s easy to skip the local playground during the summer, when so many beaches beckon—especially on Cape Cod, which can seem like one giant sandbox. Certainly there’s no lack of choices, but for those who might like to avoid major crowds of vacationers, Sandy Neck Beach Park, a 6-mile-long barrier beach in Barnstable County, is…

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The way water striders skim across the surface of ponds has earned them the nickname “Jesus bugs.” But this seemingly miraculous ability—a signature of the mostly freshwater-dwelling Gerridae family of insects—has a perfectly natural explanation. POSITIVE TENSION Surface tension helps make the water strider’s leaps and glides possible. Water molecules are attracted to each other…

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