Coolest comments & conversations

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There's been a TON of fruitful chatter about species observations, creative projects, original lesson plans, and discussion forum posts. Send us links to the great comments and conversations that you think we should all be paying attention to!

Roberta Hill shares tips for hunting Curly-leaf pondweed

Bill Peterman shares the story of symbiotic algae and salamander eggs with Wells 4th graders

Bill helps Wells students figure out the mystery of the egg mass

Massabesic Middle School students search for HWA

Alison Kanoti passes along a memorable saying – “Hems have Stems”

Statewide discussions of a water scorpion find!

Lois Stack shares some sweet botany lingo

Gary Fish and South Portland students ponder the messy spread of buckthorn berries

Some research on those “white splotches” turns up a neat Latin lesson

How does buckthorn spread so fast? Team French Toast investigates

Lois Stack reminds us to dig deeper – what’s inside a little red berry?

Knotweed, beetles, and temperature – an investigation plan is hatched

Species expert LoisStack gives some helpful tips about poison ivy identification

All the way from the UK, Half Highlander explains garlic mustard differences

RedRiots talk to the Vital Signs community about their observation of the first time a species was ever found in Maine!

Species expert Lois Stack talks with students about multifloral rose and invasive invasions

Species expert "Superstar" explains how a seastar eats to MSKSeastar4

Snoop Dog Whelk loves msklimpet2's comparison approach

d1p4team2 wonders about removing an invasive rose

Crab Lady shares her trick for ID'ing tiny crabs

42md5 and manyeyes chat about Galerucella

Maine VLMP wants milfoil sample sent ASAP

Encouraging notes from Funky Town

72hm75 adds more for expert SarahTreanorBois

PGregory and the allnighters weigh in

Not to be missed comments from team chem

Constructive feedback offered up by student teams

Excellent ID advice from APES 4

sniffly and Forest Walker throw around botany terms

Conversation between 4-H Phenologists and the VS community!
"What did your group do after you found it?"
"Our group went home to shower and change clothes! Nobody wanted to bring anything extra home. We all live in the Greater Portland area, so we definitely keep checking our trees." ....Read more!

Species expert AKanoti asks 71jc41 for more information
"The top photo is definitely not HWA (phew). The bottom one, I am less sure of. It looks a little big for adelgid. Can you tell me more about the texture of that white blob? Was it wet, dry, wispy, fabric-like, etc?" ....Read more!

GreenQueens and species expert PGregory weigh in on Smartyplants' observation
"I agree. With a name like SmartyPlants, I'll defer to your judgement! The photo of the stream you visited shows a habitat that's ideal for rock snot. If I were on safari for didymo, I'd look just where you did." ....Read more!

pden explains his thought process to Crab Lady
"...but then, I thought wait a minute my hermit crab has low bumps just like Pagurus acadianus." ....Read more!

14 comments between Banana Republic and the VS community!
"Next time you should find a place that has no spiders so none of your team mates will be screaming and running around!" ....Read more

Conversation with 61qk151, 61rh14, and KColluzi
"I believe you have the Whitspotted Sawyer just like me due to the white spot at the base of the wings. Brilliant work!" ....Read more

Conversation with emmaowen, JV, crabbyperiwinkles, more!
"Wow that is so cool! When you saw the squirts on the dock were they deflated? How could you tell they were dead? I am super interested!!!" ....Read more

Comment from SarahTreanorBois to Kuikku
"Your photos are beautiful and highlight the identifying characteristics. Your story is also a good lesson on why many of these plants have become invasive." ....Read more

Conversation with 6db, ns2me, and Roberta Hill
Your field notes are AMAZING... Perhaps your next chapter can be a visit to this site in the daylight. I'm curious, if you so easily picked up an aquatic plant from the shoreline, how much is out there? ....Read more

Conversation between gbh and Flower Child
"I really like your attitude about mistakes - they are often the best teachers, in my experience at least! I'm already looking forward to your next observation!" ....Read more

Comment from jdrake to teamdynamite
"WOW! My class was looking at your field notes to help us get ready for our field mission and we really loved your descriptive notes and detailed drawing!" ....Read more

Comment from PGregory to Equinox
"All your clues about identifying this a didymo were spot one: the location where you found it was ideal habitat, and the texture and color were indeed similar to didymo. Frankly, I was a little nervous that you may have discovered Maine's first population of didymo." ....Read more

Comment from Double Rainbow to manyeyes
I plan to go back in the pond area early next year during spring and to see if any seeds have spread. For now I plan to leave the plant there but if I need samples or something like that I will take some seeds off but i intend on leaving the plant there." ....Read more

Comment from 4mb to gmri and LoisStack
Thanks for the complement. I will do the thing where I count the amount of new shoots I see each spring. ....Read more

Comment from Telsa4A to Lakai
You guys did an amazing job. I like the pencil in the pictures. ....Read more

Comment from Penguinos to BlueHillGardener
"You had a good idea about Bittersweet, but we didn't think that the plant was Bittersweet. We noticed that the berries on the leaves were a different shape then what Bittersweet has and also the berries on Bittersweet are yellow and red and your plant didn't have those colors." ....Read more

Comment from Bamfalicious to MustachedBlueberryTurkeyWolves
"Ah this is great!! wonderful pictures and information to back them up, you sure go me convinced this was the bittersweet. Oh, and I also liked how you worded your evidence, it flows nice and just sounds good :)" ....Read more

Comments on 6bp19's observation from pparent, SDonaldson, dna, more!
Nice job. Awesome sketch. Your field notes have some good details. Yes, those seeds sure got spread around by us. Pretty clever of that plant. ....Read more

Conversation between 7hw2 and pparent"
I think the whole VS community needs to keep checking out 7hw2's submissions for more cool pictures. Wait until you see the picture of Galerucella taken on our campus. You will be amazed. ....Read more

Comment from 6ew2 to gmri
"Thank you very much for your wonderful comments, and I would have to say maybe I like flying solo when it comes to submitting. I feel like I can get things done a lot quicker and I can go at my own pace." ....Read more

Conversation between RockEel and SuperStar
"We loved you picture of the brittle star! We researched a little on the northern star and saw the difference between the common sea star." ....Read more

Comment from LPD to fishteach
"We need proof that it is a nematode." ....Read more

Comment from ebailey to signsofwhitepine
"In fact, I live in Portland and your photos make me realize how long it has been since I was in Baxter Woods." ....Read more

Comment from mainer95 about mayfly identification
"Whenever I see a BMI with three tails, my first guess is always mayfly. Most mayflies have three tails (unless one has broken off). Though damselflies also have three tails, they are more like fans and the body of the damselfly nymph resembles the body of the damselfly adult (somewhat)." ....Read more

Comment from PGregory to GAHS#2
Many invasive species--some, the nastiest we have to contend with today--start out in Maine as an ornamental plant in someone's flower or water garden. So when on safari for invasive plant species, don't forget to explore domestic habitats such as potted plants or water gardens. That's where invasive species often first check into their newly adopted environments. ....Read more

Comment from lmehrhoff to Julia DLWA
"Your pictures were great! They made confirming your find really easy. The combination of the red berries (with yellow ovary walls) and the twisting vine are dead give-aways. The habitat is just where you would expect to find it. Did you see any birds eating the fruits? I am curious as to which bird species are dispersing Oriental bittersweet." ....Read more

Comment from SacoHarry to manyeyes and dna
"I stumbled into the background through good dumb luck. My first pics were taken against our light-colored carpet, and just washed the specimens out. I noticed a bright red coffeetable book next to me in a stack and figured I'd give it a try!" ....Read more

Comments about the quality of the evidence and field notes
"I think that your group did a great job with evidence statements but in your field notes it is a little unclear meaning some words are not used properly for describing and some words are missing when describing the surroundings you are in." ....Read more

Comments about Banana Republic's photos and the biodiversity study
"I liked how you wrote your field notes. For some help full notes next time you should find a place that has no spiders so none of your team mates will be screaming and running around. I think you should take more pictures of your working area." ....Read more

Comments about the white spotted sawyer
"Nice work I am doing the same investigation I believe you have the Whitspotted Sawyer just like me due to the white spot at the base of the wings brilliant work!" ....Read more

4-H Phenologists of Gorham discuss possible vectors
"What did your group do after you found it? I am curious whether it has made it's way North of Saco yet? We are keeping tabs of our trees up here in Portland. Any ideas why the younger trees had it and not the older trees?" ....Read more

71jc41, Akanoti and pparent discuss if hemlock wooly adelgid was found or not found
"The top photo is definitely not HWA (phew). The bottom one, I am less sure of. It looks a little big for adelgid. Can you tell me more about the texture of that white blob? Was it wet, dry, wispy, fabric-like, etc?" ....Read more

Ah-Choo! SmartyPants discusses rock snot with PGregory and GreenQueens
"I agree. With a name like SmartyPlants, I'll defer to your judgement! The photo of the stream you visited shows a habitat that's ideal for rock snot. If I were on safari for didymo, I'd look just where you did." ....Read more

Pden and species expert Crab Lady discuss a species that Pden recently found
"It is hard to tell for sure from the photo. But, I think it's great that you looked so closely and carefully at this crab!" ....Read more

A super star comment from SuperStar
"Excellent sleuthing to find this little tidepool wonder. Imagine if your legs were arms instead - and if you're head was an arm instead - and you had suction cups all over your belly." ....Read more

Conversation about the Asian long horned beetle between many VS users
"You ask why the long antennae - that is the way for these beetles to sense and "smell" what is around them. Live longhorned beetles are constantly wagging and waving their antennae around, and likely this family of beetle (Cerambycidae) need to be able to sense what is entirely around them for survival." ....Read more

Conversation between AGibbs and PParent about giant hogweed
"Thanks. I realize my error now. I'd like to blame my lack of consistent internet connection that limited my research, the CBC report on Hogweed found in Clair, N.B. that got me going, and my overall lack of experience with the plant. But ultimately, the bottom line is that I jumped to the Hogweed conclusion without looking at prior submitted sitings and resources. The lookalikes site was the piece I needed for accuracy. Lesson learned." ....Read more

Conversation about an all-around impressive observation and potential future experiments
"You have collected some great evidence in this observation and done a very nice job using the digital camera. I am impressed by your photos, you must have been practicing. Good idea to look in another resource (you mention a book about Maine forests) to learn how the bark of a young white pine tree looks. You mention that you found that your tree was transpiring in the winter, do you think your experiment would go any differently in the spring? Would you expect the tree to transpire more, less, or the same amount on a warm, sunny day than it did in the winter?" ....Read more

Conversation about crayfish behaviors and evidence photographs
"Wow! This is a tiny one. I appreciate your photo with the ruler - it looks giant in your other photos! Nice fieldwork skills to see this little one and pull it from the water." ....Read more

Conversation between gbh and mainer95 about invasive plant removal
"A major hand-pulling effort could really dent the population, even now. Or, barring that, removal of seed pods after they mature but before they ripen could help slow it. The challenge of Monhegan is that the people who live out there, generally, are as busy as anyone and don't have hours and hours to volunteer. The people who visit don't necessarily know enough to know what action to take, despite their often very deep love and commitment to the place." ....Read more

Comments by Quillhill and vitalsleuth to swallowwort
"Can't get better than that for observations, ID and pics." ....Read more

Fun, encouaging comments from themothership and RachellePino
"...Oh heck, it was one of the best observations we have seen on the Vital Signs website. I liked how you took close ups so we could see the shape and textures of the Knotted Kelp, and the backed up photos of the Knotted Kelp so you could see the area around it!" ....Read more

Nail polish makes the comments!
"I really like the contrast of the bark, nail polish, and hand. I also like the way the light is hitting the tree in the sampling photo." ....Read more

Species expert rchawley jokes with coldfish1
"The picture of the groups of 5 needles rocks my whorls!!!!" ....Read more

Great advice from Swamp Queen
"You should go visit a bog sometime. If you're not careful where you step, you can land hip-deep in the water (this can actually be dangerous, so I'm not recommending it)... This is why it is a good thing to do field work with a partner. Usually your other leg keeps you from falling all the way through!"
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Evidence-building advice from belz2, SpringyRabbit, more!
"Next time you could point out that you did not find a vine and that you did not find any red berries with yellow ovary walls..." ....Read more

Celebrate! BlueHillGardener publishes 50 observations!
"Holy Cow -- 50 observations. WOW -- I've loved every one of them."
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So should we worry about this species, chem?
"I don't think that Cape Elizabeth needs to worry to much about this invasive species because..." ....Read more

Comment prompts team's return to site to improve evidence
"We went out today to take more pictures and discovered that the stems of the rose in question did have the stipules you mentioned. We will be posting these pictures shortly, and hope that you will comment further on our work." ....Read more