Riveredge Nature Center http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org Wed, 14 Nov 2018 15:48:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bug o’the Week – Buffalo Treehopper http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/bug-othe-week-buffalo-treehopper/ Wed, 14 Nov 2018 15:48:59 +0000 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/?p=21480 Howdy, BugFans, Even though she’s never exactly sure which species she’s looking at, the BugLady is always tickled when she finds one of these pointy little bugs.  Here’s what you need to know about the improbable-looking buffalo treehopper – that it can fly and hop as well as walk, and that in Germany it’s called the “Büffelzikade” […]

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Howdy, BugFans,

Even though she’s never exactly sure which species she’s looking at, the BugLady is always tickled when she finds one of these pointy little bugs.  Here’s what you need to know about the improbable-looking buffalo treehopper – that it can fly and hop as well as walk, and that in Germany it’s called the “Büffelzikade” (“buffalo cicada”).  The rest is lagniappe.

We’ll get the taxonomic confusion out of the way first: Buffalo treehoppers are in the treehopper family Membracidae and in the much-worked-over genus Ceresa/Stictocephala.  A bugguide.net expert contrasts the current species placement in their guide pages with “the [former] fragmented classification, whereby our Ceresas got scattered among as many as four genera (Hadrophallus, Spissistilus, Stictocephala, Tortistilus).”  Ceresa and Stictocephala seem to be synonymous in many species; and number of species have gone through several complete name changes – Ceresa alta is also known as Stictocephala alta and in the past has been called S. bisonaS. bizoniaS. bubalus, and C. bubalus.  The BugLady has (maybe) pictures of Stictocephala/Ceresa alta and Stictocephala/Ceresa taurina here, but as biologist William Keeton once said, man is the only species that worries about the fine points of classification; the rest of the organisms know who they are.

Adult treehoppers have an enlarged area behind their head that looks like a shield over the head, thorax, and first part of their abdomen.  The design of this area can get pretty fancy (http://grist.org/list/the-brazilian-treehopper-is-the-creepiest-raddest-insect-you-will-ever-see/), while another species with a far simpler blueprint, known as the Thorn treehopper, https://bugguide.net/node/view/16468/bgimage is known to inflict harm on people who walk on it barefoot.  Some species of treehoppers are colorful and gregarious and are protected by ants in exchange for the honeydew they excrete; others, like buffalo treehoppers, are solitary and well-camouflaged.

Treehoppers have been around for a very long time – fossil treehoppers found in amber have been dated to 40 million years old.

Buffalo treehoppers measure less than a half-inch long and are humpbacked and variously horned, supposedly reminiscent of their much larger namesakes (here’s a glamour shot of one species http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/zenphoto/index.php?album=ancient-leviathan/treehoppers&image=ceresa-taurina.jpg).. And their excellent, spiny nymphs look like mini-dragons https://bugguide.net/node/view/278721.  Buffalo treehoppers are mostly a New World, tropical bunch, and they’re widespread across North America, but a few species have stowed away and spread to parts of Europe, North Africa, and Asia, where they are unappreciated.

In their adult and immature stages, buffalo treehoppers feed on plant sap that they get by puncturing the stems of woody and non-woody plants with their strong “beaks” (and they can do minor damage to both in the process).  They may begin their lives on woody plants, where Mom uses her sharp ovipositor to make shallow slits in twigs and to deposit her eggs (https://bugguide.net/node/view/142270/bgimage).  When the eggs hatch, the nymphs find their way to more succulent, herbaceous vegetation (Ceresa taurina moves from apple to aster, and Ceresa alta, from elm and apple to sweet clover).  They molt five times on the way to adulthood https://bugguide.net/node/view/654981/bgimage.

In summer, when love is in the air, males attract females by emitting a sound that is inaudible to the human ear due both to its volume and to its frequency.

Writing in the “Thirtieth Annual Report of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University and the Agricultural Experiment Station” (1917), W.D. Funkhauser tells us that “Eggs are laid in the bark of stems two or three years old.  Egg slits are peculiar, being curved and parallel and so close together that the wound between them does not heal and thus considerable injury may be done to the twig.  … six or eight eggs are laid in the slit.  The eggs winter over and hatch in May.”

The slits can cause twigs to look rough and scaly, and multiple slits can weaken them; Funkhauser tells us that “Not only are the egg slits large enough to cause material mechanical damage, but the puncture allows the easy ingress of fungi and of other insects.”  Buffalo treehoppers are also suspected vectors of some plant viruses.

They don’t have a lot of enemies – the eggs are parasitized by a few small wasps.  The BugLady’s picture of a Buffalo treehopper on some leaves was taken when she startled a damselfly that had grabbed the treehopper, wrestled it to the ground, and then ended up dropping it (for which the BugLady apologized) (but she couldn’t quite picture how a damselfly would approach the treehopper’s hard and slippery exterior.).

Treehoppers were featured a few years ago in a BOTW about Two-marked treehoppers https://uwm.edu/field-station/two-marked-treehopper/ (with a bonus picture of a buffalo treehopper).

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

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Bug o’the Week – Two-lined Spittlebug http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/bug-othe-week-two-lined-spittlebug/ Wed, 31 Oct 2018 15:14:07 +0000 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/?p=21315 Greetings, BugFans, Isn’t this a spiffy little bug (and, yes, the word “bug” is correct, for a change, because it’s in the bug order Hemiptera)! First, the names: Two-lined spittlebugs (Prosapia bicincta) are in the family Cercopidae, aka the Froghoppers.  Why?  Because their main mode of transportation is jumping, and they do it well – some […]

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Greetings, BugFans,

Isn’t this a spiffy little bug (and, yes, the word “bug” is correct, for a change, because it’s in the bug order Hemiptera)!

First, the names:

Two-lined spittlebugs (Prosapia bicincta) are in the family Cercopidae, aka the Froghoppers.  Why?  Because their main mode of transportation is jumping, and they do it well – some can leap almost three inches straight up and more than 100 times their own body length in a single bound (that takes care of the “hopper” part, but the BugLady still doesn’t think they look very froggy – in fact, the adults are more reminiscent of cicadas).  For the physics of it, see http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26960608/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/froghopper-bugs-incredible-leaps-explained/#.W9iC9NVKjIU.

Spittlebugs get their name from the nest of bubbles produced by the nymph (immature bug).  Like aphids, spittlebug nymphs feed on juices that they access by poking their piercing-sucking, beak-like mouthparts into plant tissue.  Plant sap is sugary, but not overly so, and so they have to take in a lot of it to get enough calories.  What to do with the rest?  It goes out the other end, where the clever spittlebug adds some “glandular secretions” (OK – mucopolysaccharides, polypeptides, and acid proteoglycans) and repurposes it.

As the excess liquid exits, the nymph pumps its body up and down, which aerates the liquid (shaken but not stirred?), and then the nymph spreads the foam over its body.  The bubbly mass has gathered names like “cuckoo spit,” “frog spit,” and “snake spit,” especially from the young at heart.  The BugLady (and a whole lot of other people) have been telling folks for years that the soft-bodied nymph does this to provide a high-humidity home for itself, as well as for insulation and camouflage.  Some scientists suggest that the foam may help with electrolyte regulation, and that along with predators, the nymph’s disguise may discourage parasitoids, and pathogens like fungi and bacteria, but that it is not an efficient humidifier.

TLSBs lead small and unobtrusive lives, except when they occur in large numbers, and then they are considered (minor) pests.  The nymphs target grasses, including turfgrass, and can cause wilting.  Adults feed on the same food in the same manner (they add the leaves of some woody plants to their menu), and they can damage leaves by injecting a chemical that damages chlorophyll in a small area, resulting in wilt and in mottled white patches on the leaves (“froghopper burn”).

Adults feed on the same food, but they have lost the ability to make bubbles – see the video of an adult froghopper dripping honeydew (the article also has a nice picture of a nymph) http://bugoftheweek.com/blog/2016/1/10/froghoppers-and-spittlebugs-here-and-there-cercopidae-and-aphrophoridae).  They are not, however, defenseless; they are aposematically colored, both above and below, with red and yellow – Mother Nature’s warning colors.

Like ladybugs, lightning beetles, and others, TLSBs can initiate “reflex bleeding” – in their case, from the pads of their feet https://bugguide.net/node/view/115927/bgimage (note the classy, red ventral side of the bug).  This liquid (insect blood is called hemolymph) has been labeled “sticky,” “smelly” and “distasteful,” and it deters but doesn’t completely discourage predators.  The substance may work because it startles the predator and allows the froghopper time to hop, but one source said that when ants come in contact with it, they stop bugging the bug and start grooming themselves.

TLSBs are eaten by other animals.  The eggs are most vulnerable, and nymphs are, too, if their nest is destroyed.  Some songbirds, spiders, and assassin bugs dine on the adults.

It’s a pretty bug in a 1/3” package https://bugguide.net/node/view/1238314/bgimage, whose colors may be very intense https://bugguide.net/node/view/688929/bgimage, even face to face https://bugguide.net/node/view/436556/bgimage.  There’s an all-black form, too https://bugguide.net/node/view/1506375/bgimage.  One source said that you can ID them in flight because of their red undercarriage, which is visible when they fly.  Sure.

Females attract males via pheromones, and they mate throughout much of the summer.  Eggs are laid in the soil or in hollow plant stems, and there the TLSB overwinters.  The nymphs prefer to live in heavy thatch; they like damp, not drought.  They feed for a month as nymphs before they climb up on a grass stem and shed their final, nymphal skin along with its now-dry, bubbly covering.  Here are pictures of a newly emerged (eclosed) adult and of its recently-vacated skin (exuvia) https://bugguide.net/node/view/691740/bgimage.

TLSBs are found all over the eastern half of the country, west to Kansas and Oklahoma, but they are most common in the Southeast.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

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Bug o’the Week – Thyreodon atricolor Wasp http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/bug-othe-week-thyreodon-atricolor-wasp/ Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:46:44 +0000 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/?p=21250 Howdy, BugFans,   Thyreodon atricolor (no common name), one of the BugLady’s “Nemesis Bugs,” is a big, beautiful wasp that flies tantalizingly through dappled, woody edges, preceded by those fabulous, yellow antennae.  It seldom stops, and when it does, it often perches in the shade.  The BugLady is gratified to see that lots of the shots […]

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Howdy, BugFans,

 

Thyreodon atricolor (no common name), one of the BugLady’s “Nemesis Bugs,” is a big, beautiful wasp that flies tantalizingly through dappled, woody edges, preceded by those fabulous, yellow antennae.  It seldom stops, and when it does, it often perches in the shade.  The BugLady is gratified to see that lots of the shots submitted to bugguide.net are also out of focus, but here’s an excellent series: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1377346/bgpage.

It’s in that huge family of solitary wasps, the Ichneumonidae (incorrectly called “Ichneumon flies” in olden days) – wasps that make their living as parasitoids of other arthropods, mostly insects.  And they’re in the subfamily Ophioninae, which Wikipedia defines as “koinobiont endoparasites of larval Lepidoptera.”  Wikipedia also tells us that the Ophioninae are uncommon among the ichneumons because of their ability to sting vertebrates (bugguide.net says that they have a “short, very sharp ovipositor” that can penetrate human skin).

 

A little Science.  “Endoparasites” do their dirty work in the interior of their host – the exterior is reserved for “ectoparasites.”  “Koinobiont” (vocabulary word of the day, but don’t ask the BugLady to pronounce it) refers to their practice of allowing their host to continue its development as they feed within it – most koinobionts are endoparasites.  Conversely, “idiobiont” parasitoids, which tend to be ectoparasites, cause the development of their hosts to cease once they are on board (they’re riding around on the outside of their host, after all, and don’t want it to be too active and brush them off).  In either case, the host is kept alive as long as it serves the parasitoid, which administers the coup de grace when it’s time to pupate.  Sometimes, to add insult to injury, the parasitoid pupates within the dead body of its host.

 

There’s not a lot of information out there about this species.

 

Like all good ichneumons, the very-distinctive Thyreodon atricolor has a look-alike.  Its name is Gnamptopelta obsidianator (https://bugguide.net/node/view/1119216/bgimage), and about it, a bugguide.net expert says, “I also have a feeling most of the Gnamptopelta images in the guide are misidentified Thyreodon.”

Most ichneumons are very specific in their choice of a host for their eggs.  Thyreodon atricolor is a big wasp, and she targets big caterpillars, those of the Northern and the Southern Pine Sphinx and the Blind Sphinx.

 

In an article written in 1912 called “The Ichneumon Flies of America Belonging to the Tribe Ophionini,” Charles W. Hooker summarizes what was then known about what transpires when wasp meets host: “Trouvelot describes the oviposition of Eremotylus macrurus as follows: ‘When an Ichneumon detects the presence of a worm she flies around it for a few seconds, and then rests upon the leaf near her victim ; moving her antennae very rapidly above the body of the worm, but not touching it, and bending her abdomen under the breast, she seizes her ovipositor with her front legs and waits for a favorable moment, when she quickly deposits a small, oval, white egg upon the skin of the larva. She remains quiet for some time and then deposits another egg upon the larva, which only helplessly jerks its body every time an egg is laid’ [N.B. – no matter how blameless the rest of his life might have been, Trouvelot will forever be remembered as the French entomologist who imported gypsy moths to the US – on purpose – to develop a domestic silk industry].

 

Dr. Felt adds that ‘A few days later they hatch and the larvae eat their way under the skin of their victim, feeding on the fatty portions of the host at first, but later most of the tissues are devoured. The miserable victim of these parasites drags out a weary existence and usually perishes in the pupal state, rarely before. As a single victim will provide food for the development of but one or two parasites, the weaker ones perish.’”

 

When the host larva is mature and has created a pupal chamber, the wasp larva goes into a feeding spurt that finishes off its host; then it chews its way out and pupates in the readymade chamber of the caterpillar.

 

Hooker continues “Nothing is known of the food, mating habits, etc., of the adults, but it is possible that they feed on decaying animal and vegetable matter, since Dr. Ashmead states that they are attracted to such substances. Morley states that ‘many kinds of Ophioninae, including the big red Ophion luteus, are freely attracted by sugar. No insect is more fond of sweets, and none more indifferent to bright colored flavorless objects than the Ichneumons. The common Ophions may often be taken around evergreens where they seem to be attracted by the resinous juice.’”

 

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

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Bug o’the Week – Giant Water Bugs Revisited http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/bug-othe-week-giant-water-bugs-revisited/ Wed, 17 Oct 2018 16:18:07 +0000 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/?p=21204 Greetings, BugFans, Not long ago, an email correspondent reported seeing a giant water bug in a parking lot, so the BugLady decided to refresh a BOTW episode from 2009 with some new content and lots of cool links. Giant Water Bugs are “true bugs” in the Order Hemiptera and the family Belostomatidae.  It’s not a […]

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Greetings, BugFans,

Not long ago, an email correspondent reported seeing a giant water bug in a parking lot, so the BugLady decided to refresh a BOTW episode from 2009 with some new content and lots of cool links.

Giant Water Bugs are “true bugs” in the Order Hemiptera and the family Belostomatidae.  It’s not a huge family – about 160 species worldwide, 19 of them in North America.  They are large, brownish, flat, oval insects with impressive front legs (yes, there is a superficial resemblance to those other “water bugs” – the cockroaches, but they are not related).  GWBs come in several size groups; the BugLady originally learned them as the “Smaller GWBs” (genus Abedus), about 1 ½”, and the “Giant GWBs” (genus Lethocerus and Benecus) which, at 2 ½+” (https://bugguide.net/node/view/684943/bgimage), dwarf their smaller cousins – and many other insects.

In her venerable book The New Field Book of Freshwater Life, Elsie B. Klots reports that a hand-held GWB (more about that “hand-held” idea later) may squeak a little and may smell like apples.  Another source said that they often smell fishy.

GWBs are “climber-swimmers” that live in shallow waters, both still and slowly moving, with plenty of vegetation.  They hang head down on aquatic plants, close enough to the surface to reach it with the short, retractable breathing tubes that protrude from the tip of their abdomen (it’s not a stinger).  They use the tubes to pull atmospheric air into their tracheal system, but additional air, for use on longer dives, is stored in a space under their wings.  They use their front pair of legs to capture their prey, and the second and third pairs are adapted for swimming – flattened and fringed with hairs that effectively increase their surface area.

Like most other aquatic true bugs, GWBs are classified, niche-wise, as “piercer-predators,” which means that they grab their prey, stab it with a short, sharp beak, inject poisonous enzymes (produced in salivary glands near the beak) to immobilize it and liquefy its innards, and then slurp the softened tissue out (https://bugguide.net/node/view/677969/bgimage).  They may grab their prey as it swims past, or they may pursue it actively. The largest of the GWBs will go after an astonishing range of prey, including other aquatic insects, small frogs, tadpoles, fish (https://bugguide.net/node/view/1421659/bgimage), small snakes, and even little fuzzy ducklings.

Stories of their voraciousness are legend:

  • They have been known to bite larger prey and then “ride” them until the prey succumbed to the effects of the poison;
  • a captive GWB ate more than 2 dozen tadpoles.  In 24 hours;
  • another captive GWB ate a 3-inch trout, several young frogs, tadpoles, snails and various fish fry in an unspecified period;
  • in A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, J. Reese Voshell, Jr. tells of a GWB that was found struggling on the ground with a woodpecker (!!!), its legs wrapped around the bird’s bill and its beak sunk into the bird’s head (Voshell did not relate the final outcome).

They also dabble in cannibalism (https://bugguide.net/node/view/256111/bgimage).

Ducks and herons eat GWBs, and the BugLady saw a program on PBS which showed people in Asia dipping them in batter and deep frying them – a batter-fried bug with six batter-fried legs hanging down (the BugLady can provide a picture if needed).  Entomophagy.

“Giant GWBs” of the genus Lethocerus lay their eggs on vegetation just above the water line and then Dad sticks around to guard them (“ferociously,” says one source), climbing up the plant stem to shield them from predators and bringing water to keep them moist (https://bugguide.net/node/view/458320/bgimage).  A female may lay 150 eggs in her lifetime, but predation and cannibalism will account for most of them.

For males of the two genera of “Smaller GWBs,” eggs come as “carry-out” – a female will glue as many as 100 of them to his back (https://bugguide.net/node/view/570135/bgimage) and then cruise off to find another partner with less “baggage.”  Mr. Mom spends the next week or two protecting the eggs, exposing them alternately to water and air, and stroking them with his hind legs.  This stroking may be a way to keep water circulating over them, but an alternate explanation is that he is scraping them gently to clean off a fungus that is lethal to the eggs.

How did this behavior come about?  Robert L. Smith studied the Belostomatidae and wrote about them in a chapter of The Evolution of Social Behavior in Insects and Arachnids (1997). He tells us that paternal care in insects is rare (found in only about 150 of the approximately one million species) and that most of the examples come from the family Belostomatidae.  And that the practice isn’t optional – most unattended eggs die.  He theorizes that as the small, ancestral GWBs grew large enough to tackle vertebrate prey and adapted to fill that niche, their eggs increased in size, too.  It was hard for large aquatic eggs to absorb enough oxygen from the water, but they lacked the protection against desiccation that terrestrial insect eggs have.  Ovipositing above the water surface solves the oxygen exchange problem, but adult supervision is required to moisten the eggs (and guard against predation).

When males do the brooding, it frees the females to feed, which allows them to lay “better” eggs.  Simply put, it “costs” the male less to brood than it does the female (though there are down-sides – https://thedragonflywoman.com/2009/10/26/tradeoffs/ and https://thedragonflywoman.com/2009/11/04/gwbattack/).

Writing in the journal Psyche in 1925, H. B. Hungerford describes how the eggs hatch, “The hatching process is very interesting. I was fortunate enough to be watching an egg through the binocular when the cap at the cephalic end of the egg popped loose and the nymph began its emergence. The cap was forced up by a bubble confined by a delicate transparent membrane. After the cap was raised by the bubble-like device the head of the bug slowly advanced into the space delimited by the membrane of the bubble which then burst and rumpled up about the opening of the egg shell. This was not the post-natal molt, for when the bug was nearly out of the shell it was still enshrouded by a delicate garment that embraced each limb separately and was shed as the last rite in the hatching process.” (now watch this video of eggs hatching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiRDfD89J1A) (thanks, BugFan Chris).

 

The nickname “Toe-biter” suggests the nature of their relationship with humans.  While GWBs (generally) are not “attack-insects,” they don’t back down from a confrontation, either.  If mishandled, they will stab their handler.  Excruciatingly.  When the BugLady explains this to kids with whom she is scooping for aquatic critters, some kid always asks if the enzyme would dissolve your thumb (like you would hang onto it that long).  A naturalist friend told the BugLady that once, after she explained these facts of life to a school class she was leading, all of the kids “got it,” but one of their chaperones just couldn’t resist.  An ice pack was required.

Another nickname is “Electric light bug.”  These are strong, nocturnal fliers that are attracted to lights.  To rescue one, adopt the “snapping turtle protocol” – pick it up by the end of the abdomen https://bugguide.net/node/view/1088691/bgimage or around the middle https://bugguide.net/node/view/578267/bgimage, put it in a container, and transport it to water.  Beware: they may play possum when handled and later revive to surprise their over-confident captor (https://bugguide.net/node/view/1069798/bgimage).

Addenda:

Nice pictures, as always, at the wonderful “Backyard Arthropod Project,” http://somethingscrawlinginmyhair.com/2015/03/18/predatory-water-bug-nymph-with-water-mites/, “A Field Guide to the North Side of Old Mill Hill, Atlantic Mine, MI.”

For more about paternal care, see https://thedragonflywoman.com/2009/10/02/gwbparents/

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water!

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

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Bug o’the Week – Silver-spotted Skipper http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/bug-othe-week-silver-spotted-skipper/ Wed, 10 Oct 2018 17:03:19 +0000 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/?p=21153 Greetings, BugFans,   This wonderful caterpillar dropped down onto the railing the other day while the BugLady was eating breakfast on the porch (those orange spots on its head aren’t eyes, they’re just there to scare you).  The Silver-spotted skipper was mentioned briefly ten years ago in a general BOTW about skippers, in which the […]

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Greetings, BugFans,

 

This wonderful caterpillar dropped down onto the railing the other day while the BugLady was eating breakfast on the porch (those orange spots on its head aren’t eyes, they’re just there to scare you).  The Silver-spotted skipper was mentioned briefly ten years ago in a general BOTW about skippers, in which the BugLady confessed, not for the last time, that she is Skipper Challenged (Brock and Kaufman, in the Field Guide to Butterflies of North America, say that “Beginners are often driven to despair by the skippers because there are so many of them and because they are so subtle, so challenging to identify.  Experienced butterfly watchers may love the skippers for exactly the same reasons.”).  It deserves an episode of its own.

What are Skippers?  They are (mostly) small, orange and brown butterflies in the family Hesperiidae, and they comprise about a third of all butterfly species.  Generally, they are big-eyed, chunky, short-winged butterflies that hold their wings in a distinctive, partially-folded position at rest.  Their knobbed antennae end in a hook-like tip.  Despite their stubby wings, they move fast, and they’re named for their swift and bouncy flight.  Although moth-like, skippers are neither moths nor the Missing Link between butterflies and moths but are in the superfamily Papilionoidea with the rest of the butterflies.

European skippers, of recent BOTW fame, are in the Grass skipper subfamily.  Silver-spotted skippers are in the Spreadwing or Dicot skipper subfamily, “dicot” being a nod to the fact that their larval food plants are not grasses (many Spreadwing species favor members of the Pea family, both wild and ornamental).  These are larger-than-average skippers that, unlike their Grass skipper relatives, tend to rest with wings folded.

 

Silver-spotted skippers (Epargyreus clarus) are found in grasslands and woodland edges across southern Canada, in most of the Lower 48 states, and into northern Mexico; and Brock and Kaufman call them “the most easily-recognized skipper across North America.”

 

Like the Grass skipper caterpillars, Spreadwing skipper caterpillars camp out in leaf shelters that they fasten with silk https://bugguide.net/node/view/1558970/bgimage.  Wikipedia, whose entries on insects are often limited to a few lines about taxonomy and range, waxes positively poetical about Silver-spotted skippers, including a detailed description of building a leaf shelter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epargyreus_clarus).  A shorter account, from the Wisconsin Master Gardeners website, says “The young caterpillars live in a shelter created by a folded flap of leaf cut from the leaf margin and tied down with silk threads, while later instars tie together several leaves with silken threads to create a protective nest. They abandon smaller shelters as they grow and move to make new shelters. They leave these shelters at night or on cloudy days to feed on nearby foliage.”  Caterpillars overwinter in their leaf tents and eventually pupate there.

The shelters provide only a modicum of protection from predators – despite being disguised as a clump of leaves, the caterpillars are preyed upon/parasitized by insects like assassin bugs and ants and are collected by foraging wasps to feed their larvae.  Like other skippers, Silver-spotted skipper caterpillars have a unique way of hiding from parasitic wasps that find hosts for their young by following the scent of caterpillar droppings (frass); see the final paragraph of https://uwm.edu/field-station/skippers/ for details.  It’s the same theory used by birds that carry their nestlings’ fecal sacs away from the nest – piles of excrement mean that someone’s home.

 

Males perch on –and defend – plants from which they watch for females, and they venture out to check anything that flies past (butterflies don’t have very good eyesight).  Eggs are laid singly https://bugguide.net/node/view/1542535/bgimage, sometimes on a host plant, but sometimes only near it (in which case the caterpillar must hike around until it finds the right plant).

In researching this species, the BugLady was reacquainted with one of her favorite resources, the huge (150+ years) and thoughtfully analyzed database of the Butterflies of Massachusetts website http://www.butterfliesofmassachusetts.net/silverspot-sk.htm.  They point out that sun-loving species of butterflies benefited from the arrival of European settlers, who turned forests into agricultural fields.  In the case of the Silver-spotted skipper, its status in New England before the early 1800’s, when various species of locust trees from the southern US began to be introduced there, is uncertain.  If it was there before 1800, then its host plants were hog peanut and groundnut (both important food plants for the Native Americans), and it adopted locust trees later.  Alternatively, it is a southern species that arrived with the locusts.  A similar story could undoubtedly be told of its status in Wisconsin.

 

According to the “Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest” website, Silver-spotted Skippers in the Southeast have discovered Kudzu (something had to, according to the Reinartz Law of Biomass Availability – a.k.a. If You Grow It, They Will Come – Eventually), and they are enjoying a population boom there.

Adults use their long proboscis to nectar on a variety of wildflowers, most of them red, blue, pink, or purple, and they also get minerals from bird poop.  They are sometimes referred to as “nectar thieves;” apparently, they can reach the inner flower parts without transferring pollen.  When they’re not feeding, or when it’s cloudy or hot, the butterflies may hang upside down under leaves.

 

Two other nice bug information sites are the University of Florida’s “Featured Creature” series (http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/) – http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/silver-spotted_skipper.htm, which tells us that the caterpillars defend themselves by regurgitating “a greenish, bitter-tasting, defensive chemical.”  And another Bug of the Week, (http://bugoftheweek.com/blog/) this one by Michael J. Raupp, PhD, Professor of Entomology, Extension Entomologist, at the University of Maryland, who refers to Silver-spotted skippers as “rambunctious” http://bugoftheweek.com/blog/2016/8/15/now-you-see-em-now-you-dont-silver-spotted-skipper-caterpillars-iepargyreus-clarusi.

 

One last thing about Silver-spotted skippers, from the Massachusetts Audubon Society website: “Silver-spotted Skippers may occasionally be heard in the field. Their rapid wingbeats produce a whirring sound audible at close range.”

 

Go outside – listen for bugs!

 

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

 

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

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Bug o’the Week – Maple Spanworm 2 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/bug-othe-week-maple-spanworm-2/ Wed, 03 Oct 2018 14:14:29 +0000 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/?p=21102 Howdy, BugFans, Another week, another Maple Spanworm.  This one, the Large maple spanworm (Prochoerodes lineola) is also in the family Geometridae.  The BugLady didn’t have to play her usual game of Identification Roulette because, of the seven New World species in this primarily tropical genus, this is the only one that occurs in eastern North America. Like […]

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Howdy, BugFans,

Another week, another Maple Spanworm.  This one, the Large maple spanworm (Prochoerodes lineola) is also in the family Geometridae.  The BugLady didn’t have to play her usual game of Identification Roulette because, of the seven New World species in this primarily tropical genus, this is the only one that occurs in eastern North America.

Like last week’s Maple spanworm (Ennomos magnaria), the adult is a fall-flying, nocturnal leaf mimic, and the caterpillar is cleverly disguised as a twig (here’s a “frosted” https://bugguide.net/node/view/942223/bgimageand an “unfrosted” version of the caterpillar http://bugguide.net/node/view/565483/bgimage).  It’s a nice-sized moth, about 1 ½” to 2” across, with a few small points on the edges of the wings.  There’s a lot of variation in color, http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=6982, but the dark line that bisects the front wing (the post-medial line) is diagnostic; it has pale edges and a sharp angle near the tip of the wing.

Wagner, in Caterpillars of Eastern North America, tells us that “Seasonal phenology remains unclarified in the Northeast, where there seems to be a single principal generation, with mature caterpillars from June through August; southward with two to three generations.”  Both Wagner and Sogaard, in Moths and Caterpillars of the North Woods, say that it overwinters as an egg, but other sources say that it overwinters as pupa.  Here’s a nice series of pictures of its life cycle: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1119588/bgimage.

A publication by the North Carolina Parks Department says “We suspect that few individuals overwinter in North Carolina and that we get annual migrations in the spring that are able to establish temporary, but recurrent breeding populations throughout the state.”  The 2018 “Checklist of Wisconsin Moths” (Ferge, Balogh and Johnson), though, lists it as a resident here, http://www.wisentsoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/WI-Moth-Checklist-June-2018.pdf 

Like last week’s Maple spanworm, the caterpillar does not limit its diet to maple; it’s also found on woody plants like birch, willow, tamarack, aspen, blueberry, cherry, and dogwood, and on herbaceous plants like soybeans, sweet-fern, and members of the geranium family.

The Large maple spanworm was one of a number of moths studied by researchers Amanda Soutar and James Fullard in an effort to find out more about how moths avoid predators at night.  They say that:

  • Nocturnal predators depend on hearing and smell more than on sight to locate prey.

  • The bats they observed had two hunting modes – “aerial foraging,” in which bats use sonar to “ping” aerial prey (many groups of insects have evolved “ears” that allow them to detect bats), and “substrate gleaning,” in which bats fly low over vegetation and pick up the sounds of their prey using a kind of echolocation that eared moths can’t hear.

  • Nocturnal moths have larger eyes than those that fly by day (and the more nocturnal they are, the bigger their eyes).  Eye size is also correlated with moth size, but there’s no significant difference in eye size between eared and earless moths.  The researchers say that “It’s possible that all large moths use vision to detect approaching bats.”

  • Moths with ears get important information about the presence of bats that lets them make a decision about whether to fly or not to fly.  Larger species of eared moths are a bigger target for echo-locating bats, but they have more sensitive hearing, which evens the playing field.

  • Moths without ears employ “passive” defenses – they are less likely to fly at night than eared moths are (surface-gleaning bats can’t detect silent, stationary prey); they may fly lower to the ground or faster or more erratically or for shorter distances than their eared counterparts, and many are species that are out early in the season, before bats migrate back north.

  • Moth reproduction requires a male to fly to a female, which puts earless moths at a disadvantage.  To compensate, they may live longer, or males may have more sensitive antennae for picking up a female’s chemical trail (some authors refer to the female’s pheromones as her “song”).

See the whole article at: https://academic.oup.com/beheco/article/15/6/1016/205999.

[An Aside: From an article called “Seven Surprising Facts about Moths I Learned on my First Mothing Night,” “Fact #1 – The names are in Latin! When Peterson’s Field Guide to Moths was authored with Charles Covell in 1984, the publisher told him he needed to include the common names.  Peterson said that there were no common names!  He was then told to make them up, which he did using the Latin to help with some of the naming.  The problem with learning only the common names is that others have also named them something completely different.”]

Finally, Maple spanworm seems to be a popular name – there’s also a Lesser maple spanworm (Macaria pustularia https://bugguide.net/node/view/287220) (which the BugLady doesn’t have a picture of – yet); about its descriptive species name, bugguide.net says “PUSTULARIA: from the Latin ‘pustulare’ (to blister); the third orangish-yellow marking along the forewing costa [representing the top of the PM line] is reminiscent of a pustule that has broken and leaked a trail of pus down the wing – not a very nice mental image, but a good way to remember this species.

TMI?

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

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Sugarbush House http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/sugarbush-house/ Wed, 26 Sep 2018 20:33:57 +0000 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/?p=21080 For 50 years, maple sugarin’ has been not just a program at Riveredge, but a way of life. Perhaps nothing better exemplifies the mix of whimsy, fun, learning, and natural wonder that makes Riveredge, well, Riveredge…than the eyes of a child. Imagine a child who has just connected the maple syrup on a steaming pancake […]

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For 50 years, maple sugarin’ has been not just a program at Riveredge, but a way of life. Perhaps nothing better exemplifies the mix of whimsy, fun, learning, and natural wonder that makes Riveredge, well, Riveredge…than the eyes of a child. Imagine a child who has just connected the maple syrup on a steaming pancake to the sap from a tree she just helped tap. This sense of wonder comes to us thanks to hundreds of people who, for five decades in early spring, have devoted themselves to making it all happen; including folks with interesting names like The Big Sap, Father Fire, Picklepuss, Sap Queen, and Maple Madman. And now this year longtime Riveredge supporters Mal, Jill, and Jamie Hepburn (Jamie being a Riveredge Kid himself), have teamed up with the Hepburn “Bootstrap” Foundation, and Ozaukee Bank’s Gift to the Future Fund to make a coordinated gift to Riveredge. A gift which will fund 100% of the cost to construct a new, but still rustic, lodge style Sugarbush House.
The Sugarbush House is being built on the vacant site of Ernie Pochert’s (aka “Father Fire”) house in “Ernie’s Woods.”  This fitting location is in the heart of Riveredge’s best Sugarbush and Ernie (who passed in 2014 and was a long time iconic maple sugaring volunteer at Riveredge), embodied all the fun and dedication that makes this “fifth season” all that it is.
 The dedication plaque will read: “This Sugarbush House is being built expressly for all the Riveredge Kids who will visit this wondrous nature sanctuary in the years to come. It is dedicated to Andy, Don, Lefty, Ernie and to hundreds of others…who worked tirelessly to reestablish the surrounding forest. And at the same time helped to build Riveredge Nature Center’s 50 year tradition of honoring the land.”
 The Sugarbush House was designed by Architect Don Stauss of Mequon and is being constructed by Sauermilch Contractors of Sheboygan.
 We thank the Hepburn family and all the many people who are making this new facility a reality. The Sugarbush House will allow the expansion of not only Riveredge’s maple sugarin’ programs enjoyed by thousands of students and community members each year, but also will be used as a year-round classroom space expanding capacity to meet the needs of Riveredge’s growing  educational programs. Construction on the Sugarbush House has already started, and we plan to have it open in time for next season’s sugarin’ celebrations!
If you are interested in being part of this or other upcoming building projects at Riveredge, please reach out to Jessica Jens, Executive Director.  We invite you be part of this exciting adventure — for without generous partners and incredible kindness such as this, Riveredge would not be here today!

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Bug o’the Week – Maple Spanworm http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/bug-othe-week-maple-spanworm/ Wed, 26 Sep 2018 14:20:16 +0000 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/?p=21066 Howdy, BugFans, Isn’t this moth exquisite!  It’s one of several moths in the family Geometridae that go by the same name – Maple spanworm (more about that in a future episode). And it’s one of several “new bugs” that the BugLady saw for the first time this year. Here’s a glamor shot of one http://ottawa.moths.ca/geometridae/pages/06797-ennomos-magnaria-A2.html. Anyway, Geometrids […]

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Howdy, BugFans,

Isn’t this moth exquisite!  It’s one of several moths in the family Geometridae that go by the same name – Maple spanworm (more about that in a future episode). And it’s one of several “new bugs” that the BugLady saw for the first time this year. Here’s a glamor shot of one http://ottawa.moths.ca/geometridae/pages/06797-ennomos-magnaria-A2.html.

Anyway, Geometrids – Geometer moths – are, as long-time BugFans know, named for the way their caterpillars walk.  Geometrid means “earth measurer,” and the caterpillars are fondly nicknamed “inchworms,” “loopers,” and “spanworms” because of their gait. Lepidopteran caterpillars have three “true” legs in front, on their thorax (caterpillars are divided into three sections, just like their elders).  The rest of that long body is supported by prolegs – fleshy, hydraulically-powered stubs tipped with hooks (crochets) for gripping the substrate https://bugguide.net/node/view/153809.  A full complement of prolegs is five pairs, the hindermost being a pair of anal prolegs at the tip of the abdomen.  Geometer caterpillars are missing two or three pairs of prolegs between the true legs and the anal prolegs, and the result is that instead of uniform undulation, the inchworm reaches its front end forward and then arches to pull the rear end up to it.  For a full explanation of prolegs and some super photos, see http://www.thecaterpillarlab.org/single-post/2016/1/6/SPOTLIGHT-ON-CATERPILLAR-ANATOMY-PROLEGS.

Several sources said that Maple spanworms (Ennomos magnaria) are a sign that the days of summer are numbered (the BugLady found two of them at the start of September).  They’re found around woodlots and swamps across southern Canada and the northern half of the US http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=6797.  Adults are nocturnal, and may rest on the sides of buildings by day.

With a wingspan of 1 ¾” to 2 ¼” they’re decent-sized moths.  What cool wings!  Their unevenly-scalloped edges explain this moth’s other common names – Notch-wing moth and Notched-wing geometer.  What a dynamite color!  And what a posture – like one of those figure-skating moves where the skater holds her foot in back of her head!  There are plenty of moths that are leaf mimics, but this one takes it to another level by imitating dry, curled leaves.

The caterpillars take twig mimicry to a new level, too.  Swellings on the caterpillar look like bits of twig anatomy – leaf scars, bud scars, and lenticels: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1484763/bgimage,https://bugguide.net/node/view/132141/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/818291/bgimage,  https://bugguide.net/node/view/291625/bgimage.

David James, et al, in The Book of Caterpillars: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World, tell us that, “Maple spanworm caterpillars hatch from overwintering eggs laid in rows on their host plant. Both edible and abundantthe caterpillars have evolved a remarkable ability to camouflage themselves.  So as not to create a searchable pattern for predators, the green, brown, or gray coloring of their body varies, and they also blend perfectly with their host plant by assuming a stiff, twiglike position during the day.”  The BugLady assumes that “edible,” here, means edible by the usual caterpillar-eating suspects, not in an entomophagy context.  Jim Sogaard, in Moths and Caterpillars of the North Woods, says that the caterpillars are “superb examples of ‘vegetable disguise.’”  Despite their camouflage, they are found and eaten by birds and by other insects and are parasitized by wasps.

One source pointed out that the name “Maple spanworm” is misleading because it implies that the caterpillar is a specialist feeder on maples.  In truth, its menu is so varied that its host plants include much of what grows in Wisconsin’s deciduous woods and wetlands – alder, ash, basswood, elm, hickory, birch, beech, poplar, willow, holly, and oak – and maple.

In fall, females lay eggs on a host plant, and there the eggs overwinter.  They hatch in spring and the caterpillars feed, but instead of descending and pupating on/in the ground, they spin a silken cocoon in the leaves and pupate there, emerging as adults in mid-to-late summer.

Of the caterpillar, David Wagner says in his book Caterpillars of Eastern North America, that “By flashlight, these enormous loopers are readily discovered – look for them at the end of a shoot.”

On a different topic, it’s Woolly Bear Caterpillar Time!  To find out what they’re telling us about the coming winter, see https://uwm.edu/field-station/woolly-bears/.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

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Bug o’the Week – Cross Orbweaver Spider http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/bug-othe-week-cross-orbweaver-spider/ Wed, 19 Sep 2018 14:42:36 +0000 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/?p=21026 Salutations, BugFans, The BugLady is literally surrounded by Cross orbweavers (Araneus diadematus).  Egg cases were attached to the house and porch last fall, and masses of spiderlings emerged in early summer; she often has to break through a web to get out the door.  In her research, the BugLady has seen this group labeled as orbweavers, orb-weavers, and […]

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Salutations, BugFans,

The BugLady is literally surrounded by Cross orbweavers (Araneus diadematus).  Egg cases were attached to the house and porch last fall, and masses of spiderlings emerged in early summer; she often has to break through a web to get out the door.  In her research, the BugLady has seen this group labeled as orbweavers, orb-weavers, and orb weavers, even within the scientific community; she’ll use “orbweavers” because it annoys Spellcheck).

They’re called orbweavers (family Araneidae) because the webs they spin are the classic, round, flat webs that we learn about as kids.  You know – Charlotte’s people.  Bugguide.net tells us that “All orb weavers spin some sort of web consisting of concentric circles (smaller circles within larger circles) with “spokes” radially going from the center outwards toward the anchor points (https://bugguide.net/node/view/1000727/bgimage) …. Most orb weaver webs are vertical (perpendicular to the ground), but there are a handful that will spin a horizontal web (parallel to the ground). Some of the webs can be extremely large (over 3 feet in diameter)” (a few webs on the BugLady’s porch have approached that size; and lately, the BugLady has had fun luring mosquitoes into them, which the large female seems to eat directly without wrapping and storing.  Hors d oeuvres).

Speaking of which, spiders are carnivores, right?  Well… mostly.  Researchers Eggs and Sanders noted in a paper in the journal PLOS that when orbweavers, including Cross orbweavers, recycle (eat) old webs, they also consume pollen and fungal spores that have stuck to the strands.  And they do it on purpose – some pollen grains are too large to “swallow” casually and have to be pre-softened externally by enzymes, just like animal prey.  They reckoned that about 25% of the diet of juvenile orbweavers is pollen.

Cross Orbweavers were mentioned briefly in a 2012 BOTW about several species of large orbweavers.  For basic information about the group, see https://uwm.edu/field-station/big-orb-weaving-spiders/.

The Cross orbweaver’s range is described as “Holarctic,” which means that it’s found in northern areas of the New World (where’s it’s an immigrant) and of the Old.  In the New World, it’s found in southern Canada and across the United States from New Jersey to northern California.  With a range like that, it’s picked up a bunch of common names, among them European garden spider, house spider, diadem spider, cross spider, pumpkin spider (a name shared by the Marbled orbweaver) and crowned orb weaver.  It’s a well-known species (because it likes people and their habitations, especially if those habitations have exterior lighting) and a well-studied one.

As is the case with most species of large orbweavers, there can be considerable color variation (and dark individuals may get lighter in color as they age), and not all of them have an obvious “cross” on the top of the abdomen, and sometimes a microscopic examination is required to make an ID https://bugguide.net/node/view/1296471/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/1444765/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/1458037/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/1344384/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/1331634/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/713309/bgimage; and http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv_upload.php?upload_id=148031&PHPSESSID=63o1fc8cg5takrhq187eemo2a6 (OK, the BugLady threw that in because the Aurora season is heating up and www.spaceweather.com’s “Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery” takes us there).  Males aren’t dramatically smaller than females (about 6-13mm long, to the females’ 6-20mm), but females have a rounder abdomen, especially now, when they’re gravid.

They hatch in spring, stay together until their first molt (the collective noun for spiders is a “cluster” or “clutter”), and then scatter, and spiderlings that were tiny in June have reached lunker size now, at the end of their lives.  In late summer, mature males may “adopt” immature females in hopes of a future liaison.  A male approaches a female cautiously, with lots of advance-and-retreat, and tentative touching; she is bigger and hungrier than he is, and she may have a different definition of “romantic dinner.”  In any case, males don’t survive long after mating, and yes, she may eat him.  She produces and hides an egg sac that contains as many as 800 eggs and is almost as big as she is (see the series of pictures at https://bugguide.net/node/view/719111/bgimage), and she hangs around to guard it for the rest of her life.  The first killing frost finishes off any survivors (interestingly, Cross orbweavers have a two-year life cycle in Europe)

Scientists have, indeed, studied the heck out of Cross orbweavers.  They’ve looked at the complex business of web-building, at the factors that affect the placement/angle of the radius threads (spokes), at specifications for habitat selection, at the types/functions of hairs on the spiders’ legs, at the fact that urban spiders are larger than their rural relatives (the urban heat island effect), at the tensile strength of cocoon silk, and much more.  Be sure to check the web diagrams in this study https://www.sciencealert.com/spider-on-drugs, in which researchers dosed Cross orbweavers with a variety of substances – LSD, caffeine, pot, mescaline/peyote, and a few more (with a link to a longer NY Times article).

Fun Cross Spider Facts:

  • Cross orbweavers typically hang upside down at the center (hub) if their web.  Eric Eaton describes their behavior when alarmed, “The spiders themselves will literally shake at the close approach of a person or other large animal, vibrating their web and no doubt startling the inquisitive visitor. Should that tactic fail, most orb weavers drop abruptly from their web, anchoring a dragline to the hub so that they can climb back up once danger passes” (Bug Eric http://bugeric.blogspot.com/2011/08/spider-sunday-cross-spider.html).

  • Cross orbweavers are one of the best-known spiders in the world and in 2010 had the honor of being named “European Spider of the Year.”

  • Eric Eaton also tells us that ““Anita” and “Arabella” were two female Cross spiders that were sent into space in Skylab 3 in 1973 to study the effects of zero gravity on web construction.

Cross orbweavers are not aggressive and generally bite only if cornered or inadvertently grabbed.  Side effects of their bites are mild in most people (redness, swelling, pain) and last only a few days.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

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Winter Camp 2018! http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/winter-camp-2018/ Fri, 14 Sep 2018 16:23:46 +0000 http://www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/?p=20966                       Do your kids miss summer camp and wish they had something exciting to do during winter break? We’ve got just the solution! Join us at Riveredge for our fourth annual Winter Camp! Our beautiful 379 acres unveil a whole new world in winter. During our […]

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Do your kids miss summer camp and wish they had something exciting to do during winter break? We’ve got just the solution! Join us at Riveredge for our fourth annual Winter Camp!

Our beautiful 379 acres unveil a whole new world in winter. During our fun-filled days, we’ll hike, snowshoe, build campfires, create winter crafts, play awesome games and much more! Both indoor and outdoor activities are carefully planned based on the weather and led by our fun and fully trained camp staff!

It’s the perfect recipe for beating the winter doldrums (and saving mom and dad’s sanity during winter break).

 

FAQ:

What ages is this camp for? 

Winter camp is for campers aged 6-12. Once we have all our campers signed up, they will be divided into groups based on age, so you can be assured your child with be placed with an age-appropriate group!

What do campers need to bring? 

Once you’re signed up, you’ll get a full packet of info with everything you’ll need to know closer to the start of camp. But basically, enough layers and gear to be appropriately dressed for winter weather and a lunch. We’ll provide all the fun!

What time is camp? 

Camp is from 9 AM to 4 PM each day (Wednesday, Dec 26th to Friday, Dec 28), with an optional overnight option on Friday night (see below). Campers will need to be transported to and from Riveredge at those times each day.

What’s this overnight option about?

Campers will have the rare chance to experience Riveredge at night. Our camp staff will lead fun activities all evening, we’ll cook dinner over a campfire, and in the morning we’ll make pancakes with delicious Riveredge maple syrup. Don’t worry though, we’ll be sleeping inside! This Friday overnight is completely optional and participating campers will be need to be picked up at 9 AM on Saturday.

Do I have to sign up ahead of time?

Yes, please! Pre-registration is required and Winter Camp enrollment is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first served basis, so be sure to register as soon as possible!

What’s the cost?

Cost is $145 per camper for Riveredge members (not yet a member? Sign up here for huge discounts on camps, programs, special events, and much more!) or $160 per non-member child. The optional overnight add-on is $25 per child. (Pssst, have more than one child interested in attending camp? We offer a multiple child discount!  First registration is full price and each additional child will receive 10% off.)

Any other questions?

We’re happy to help answer them! Give our camp coordinator, Steff Merten, a call at 262-375-2715 or by email at smerten@riveredge.us

Cancellation Policy: Registrations may be cancelled up to 30 days prior to camp to receive a refund of registration fees minus a $50 non-refundable deposit. If you cancel less than 30 days before your week of camp, refunds are only given for medical reasons and family emergencies. These refunds are also subject to the $50 non-refundable deposit. 

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