Sight is one of the most important senses we rely on as humans. We are good at noticing colors, patterns, and shapes. In the month of February, people tend to have love on the mind, and a popular shape to represent this is the heart. Can you find heart shapes in nature? Here are some examples of hearts in nature and how they came to be.

Strawberries are a beautiful and tasty fruit that are a favorite of many, including our turtles at the nature center. When strawberries come into season again this summer, keep your eye out for individuals that are in a heart shape. (Of course the vibrant red color adds to the resemblance!)

Many people don’t know that strawberries aren’t actually berries. A berry is a simple fruit that has seeds on the inside. Berries also form from a single flower. So if you look at a blooming blueberry plant, each flower you see will become one blueberry. Strawberries, on the other hand, are considered aggregate fruits because multiple fruits form from a single flower. And of course their seeds are on the outside of their flesh.

Deer footprint

Winter is an excellent time to find deer footprints. Snow-covered ground reveals the secret paths these animals traverse all around us. Sometimes you’ll see a very well-made deer track in the form of a heart. Deer walk on two hooves, which leave a heart-shaped impression. The direction that the bottom of the “heart” points is the direction the deer was traveling.

Damselflies mating

Damselflies are funny-looking insects that have been around for a very long time: around 300 million years! You can recognize them by their big eyes, four wings, and their long abdomen — the hind part of their body. They are often mistaken for dragonflies, but are much smaller. When damselflies mate, they create a heart shape as their two bodies join together. The male attaches the end of his abdomen behind the female’s head, and the female attaches the end of her abdomen (which contains her reproductive organs) to the male’s thorax, where he has deposited his sperm. It is very common to see damselflies flying together in this shape, but not until the summer.

Sam Nunes is the environmental educator at Woodcock Nature Center.