Winter Camp 2018!












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).



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

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. 

2018 Southern WI Restoration Field Day Experts

Want to learn more about the amazing folks presenting at this year’s Restoration Field Day? You’re in luck!


Andrew Struck, Planning And Parks Director- Ozaukee County
Presenting: Ozaukee County Aquatic Connectivity and Habitat Restoration – Adaptive Management to Meet Multiple Goals












Andrew Struck has a M.S. in Applied Ecology/Regional Planning from Indiana University – Bloomington, a B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and more than 20 years of planning and restoration experience. He is the Director of the Planning and Parks Department for Ozaukee County and specializes in regional planning, natural resource planning, management, protection and restoration, education, park and open space design and implementation. He has lead collaborations with numerous governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations and private sector firms on planning and natural resource design, management, protection, education and restoration projects including: the USEPA, NOAA, USFWS, USFS, WDNR, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, WisDOT, NFWF, and other conservation organizations. He is the Program Director and main point of contact for the Ozaukee Fish Passage Program and currently serves as a member of the WDNR Fish and Wildlife Technical Team and Citizen Advisory Committee Leadership Team for the Milwaukee River Estuary AOC. Andrew also served as Program Director for the nationally recognized, USEPA-funded sustainable brownfield redevelopment of the Menomonee River Valley in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Andrew serves on several planning and environmental nonprofit organizations Board of Directors including officer positions (e.g., President, Treasurer, etc) and received the Conservationist of the Year award from Gathering Waters in 2013.

Bill McNee, Forest Health Specialist – Wisconsin DNR
Presenting: Forest Health and Ecological Restoration Success, Parts 1 and 2














Bill McNee is a DNR Forest Health Specialist stationed in Oshkosh. He began working for the DNR in 2001 as a gypsy moth suppression coordinator based in Green Bay, and has been in his current position since 2013. He primarily works with the detection and management of non-native insects and diseases such as emerald ash borer, gypsy moth and beech bark disease. He currently serves on the executive committee of the National Gypsy Moth Management Board. Bill received a PhD in Entomology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Carrie Hennessy, Horticulturalist & Landscape Designer- Johnson’s Nursery
Presenting: They’re Here, They’re Deer (Creating Deer Resistant Landscapes)











I grew up in southern Wisconsin, just one mile from my grandparents’ dairy farm. Being able to run freely around the rolling hills and farmland of Green County instilled a deep love of nature at an early age. But it wasn’t until my parents gave me my own raised bed in our family vegetable garden and for flowers and herbs that I realized a whole world of horticultural potential! Every year I could change the design and experiment with new culinary herbs and flowers. A chance encounter with a Horticulture major when I was in high school inspired me to turn my love of gardening and design into a career. I received a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and a minor in art at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. My varied work experiences include time at several renowned botanical gardens (such as Olbrich Gardens, The Paine Art Center & Gardens, and the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden) and four years as the designer and lead foreman for a small landscape company in Oshkosh, WI. I was thrilled to join Johnson’s Nursery in the spring of 2008. I knew first-hand how great their plant material was and that I’d be surrounded by incredibly knowledgeable people who enjoy plants as much as I do. As the Retail department’s lead Horticulturist and Designer, it is my mission to approach each client’s landscape needs with enthusiasm and to help make their landscape a unique reflection of their own aesthetics, whether they just need a single shade tree installed or a complete redesign. As a professional horticulturist and designer, I enjoy speaking publicly on a variety of horticultural topics to local garden clubs, libraries, and educational institutions. In addition, I host the Johnson’s Nursery online web-series “The Dirt” and “Carrie’s Quick Tips” which show that gardening doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated. It’s easy to take control of your own yard, with a few professional tips. In my spare time, I like working in my own garden, creating new & exciting container displays with each changing season, reading, hiking, trying new recipes, visiting new places, and going to Brewers baseball games with my husband.

Clayton M. Frazer, Senior Ecologist – Eco Resource Consulting
Presenting: Native Broadcast Seeding















Clay received his Bachelor of Science in Zoology/Wildlife Ecology from Southern Illinois
University at Carbondale in 1996. Following a two-year Peace Corps Volunteer post in West
Africa working in the agro-forestry sector, he began his professional career as a Wildlife
Technician for The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. This work led to a position
with Pheasants Forever in Southeast Wisconsin as a Grassland Ecologist where he facilitated
more than 6,000 acres of reconstructed prairie. In 2008, Clay came on board with EC3
Environmental Consulting Group as a Project Manager. And in 2012, Clay accepted a position
as a Senior Ecologist with Eco-Resource Consulting, Inc. He has a strong background in native
plant ecology, invasive species management, comprehensive land management, and project
planning/design. Through the design and implementation of adaptive management
approaches, Clay has accrued 20 years of “hands-on” knowledge base in native plant
community management and now oversees business and new project development at ERC, one of the fastest growing ecological consulting and restoration firms in the Midwest.

Cory Gritzmacher, Director of Habitat Restoration and Operations- Mequon Nature Preserve,
Jason Nickels, Director of Education and Research- Mequon Nature Preserve
Laura Holder, Co-founder and Executive Director- Midwest Conservation Dogs
& Tilia, Conservation Ambassador – Mequon Nature Preserve
Presenting: Conservation Dogs Part 1 and 2

Cory has been in the Green Industry for over 20 years. He graduated from MATC with a degree in Landscape Horticulture in 1998. He has been an ISA Certified Arborist for over 15 years.  Cory is a past president of the Wisconsin Arborist Association and has served on a number of committees over the past 20 years. Prior to his position at Mequon Nature Preserve he owned and operated Second Nature Landscape Company. Cory enjoys family vacations to Colorado with his wife Andrea and two boys Caleb and Ryan.

Jason received a BS in Life Science Education from Martin Luther College, New Ulm, MN in 2002, and a MS in Environmental Education from Concordia University – WI, Mequon, WI, in 2015. After graduation he began teaching in 2002 at Lakeside Lutheran High School in Lake Mills, WI. At Lakeside he took on many roles: teaching biology and human anatomy / physiology, serving as the head coach of the wrestling program, coaching varsity and junior varsity football as a defensive coordinator, advising the school’s Affinity Club (a service organization) and taking care of Lakeside’s internal courtyard and ponds. In June of 2011 Jason joined Mequon Nature Preserve’s staff and now serves as the Director of Education and Research. During the school year he takes thousands of students on nature walks in his new, 444-acre classroom. When not teaching kids, he spends his time performing land restoration tasks in the prairies, wetlands and forests of Mequon Nature Preserve. Jason lives in Milwaukee with his wife, Becky, and his two young children, Madelynn and Sawyer.

Laura’s lifelong fascination with canines, especially their unique ability to work alongside humans, inspires her every day in the field. She loves training and deploying the MCD canine teams to support clients in their critical conservation efforts. Driven by her boundless curiosity about how dogs think, learn and detect scent, Laura has spent more than a decade as a professional in the fields of scent-detection, nose work and dog training. She is a Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI™) through the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NASCW) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) through the CCPDT. Laura has also trained for obedience and agility. In addition to co-founding Midwest Conservation Dogs, Laura is also owner of Connecting with Dogs, co-founder of the Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin, and has a long list of continuing education credits. Her Labrador Retriever, Ernie, is her current canine partner for detection work. She continues to “play” K9 Nose Work with her title-winning German Shepherd Dog, Oscar, as much as she can.

Tilia is the newest addition to the family at Mequon Nature Preserve. After her training, Tilia will become the first on-staff conservation dog in the state of Wisconsin and will also be a conservation ambassador, joining MNP staff on field trips at the preserve. Follow Tilia on her MNP Instagram (tilia_mnp) to see what she’s up to!

Craig Maier, Coordinator- Tallgrass Prairie & Oak Savanna Fire Science Consortium
Presenting: I’ll Give It to You ‘Trait’ – Native and Non-native Plant Adaptations to Fire














Craig Maier is the coordinator of the Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Fire Science Consortium, a knowledge exchange funded by the Joint Fire Science Program ( The consortium’s mission is to accelerate the awareness, understanding, and application of fire science, and he partners with researchers, land managers, and staff from institutions, agencies, and NGOs across the Midwest. Craig grew up in southern Wisconsin and has earned a B.S. in Geoscience from Northland College and a M.S. from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the UW-Madison. He has experience with prescribed fire, prairie restoration, managed grazing, and oak ecosystem restoration from work with the Aldo Leopold Foundation, The Nature Conservancy’s Baraboo Hills Project, UW Madison’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and MacLeish Heritage Farms.

Drew Ballantyne, Owner of Woodland Restoration LLC & Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium Board Director
Presenting: Giant Hogweed














I received Bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Water and Life and Geography from Carthage College.  Then I received my Masters’ in Forest Science from Michigan Technological University in 2010. I have done research or worked all across the Great Lakes region.  Shortly after starting a PhD program at Michigan State my advisor recommended I get more land management experience and see how I like it. Since then I have worked for an ecological restoration company, a golf course performing ecological restoration, and numerous sites with my own business.  From those I have obtained pesticide applicator licenses, chainsaw safety training, and wildland fire training certificates. I enjoy working outside restoring Wisconsin’s native ecosystems both for clients as well as on my wife and I’s own properties. When I am not in prairies, savannas, forests, or wetlands, you can usually find me on the golf course or at a restaurant.  I am always looking to network with more folks as well as on the lookout for the next areas that have potential to be high quality natural areas.

Matt Smith, Land Manager – Riveredge Nature Center
Presenting: Review of herbicide application equipment and tactical approaches












Matt Smith is the Land Manager for Riveredge Nature Center based in Newburg, Wisconsin. Mr. Smith has 13 years of experience in the field of ecology and restoration. Prior to employment with Riveredge, Mr. Smith has worked as a Consulting Ecologist for Eco-Resource Consulting, Land Manager for National Audubon at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, a restoration technician for Tallgrass Restoration LLC, a Conservancy Steward for the Sand County Foundation, a Technician through Seifert Field & Forest, a certified Arborist and Cultural Landscape Specialist for Green Tree-Tree Care and Consulting, and a plant surveyor for NatureServe. Mr. Smith’s work has led him to practice restoration throughout the Midwest, experiencing first hand its wide variety of diverse environments and conditions. Mr. Smith’s work has allowed him to play an active role in projects on large and small scales in the public and private sectors.

Melissa Curran, Environmental Scientist – Stantec Consulting Services
Presenting: Midwest Orchid Conservation Project


















Melissa Curran is an Environmental Scientist with Stantec Consulting Services, specializing in botanical surveys and restoration ecology.  Over the last 11 years, she has completed numerous natural resource assessments, rare plant surveys and restoration projects throughout the Midwest.  She has documented dozens of new rare plant populations and is currently working on reintroducing orchid species to restoration sites throughout Wisconsin.

Michelle Stowers: Nursery Ecologist-  Agrecol LLC
Presenting: Introduction to Agrecol’s Native Vegetated Mat (NVM)










Michelle was raised on a farm in South Central Wisconsin. Her passion for our native flora and fauna started young and has carried through the present. She holds a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Field Ecology and a minor in Environmental Studies from UW-Whitewater. Michelle has worked with Agrecol, a native seed and plant nursery since 2016. As the Nursery Ecologist, one of the many hats she wears is oversight of the Native Vegetated Mat (NVM). Ms. Stowers is especially passionate about stopping the decline of the Monarch butterfly population. She hand raises caterpillars through metamorphosis and releases hundreds of Monarchs each year.

Peter Ziegler, Project Manager- EC3 Environmental Consulting
Presenting: Forestry Mowing- Taking the sweat out of woody invasive removal.














Peter Ziegler from a young age was introduced to many outdoor activities growing up in the
country outside of Slinger in Washington County. Coming from a conservation minded family. Peter was hooked on restoration at a young age when he saw the success a wetland restoration
can provide to wildlife and the land. Peter has over 18 years of natural resource restoration and
management experience across the upper Midwest, and takes great pride he is close to where he grew up and able to utilize his skills to restore the natural habitat in the area. Peter currently
manages the state wide habitat program for a non-profit, Wisconsin Waterfowl Association,
specializing in wetland restorations; as well as managing restoration projects for EC3
Environmental Consulting. His experience comes from a diverse background working from
North Dakota to Iowa and from Native shoreline, prairie and wetland restoration to invasive
species management. Peter’s diverse restoration management background is recognized as he
participates on land management advisory committees for multiple non-profit organizations.
EC3 is a full line restoration, land management and consulting company.

Ryan Wallin, Stewardship Director – Ozaukee Washington Land Trust
Presenting: GIS Collector’s Best Attributes for Stewardship













Born and raised in the Milwaukee Metro area, BS from Stevens Point – Wildlife Ecology and Management, MS from American Public University –Environmental Policy and Management, worked for Native American Fish and Wildlife Society as a CWD Biologist 07-12, Washington Department of Natural Resources as Fish and Wildlife Biologist II 12-16, and came to OWLT in January 2016.

Frothy Forage Helpful Tips

Woo-hoo! An awesome day of celebrating great drinks and the great outdoors awaits! Thanks for joining the fun. Here’s some helpful tips to make your Frothy experience fantastic. Registrants can expect an email closer to the event with full details

  • All parking for event attendees is at Fireman’s Park in Newburg (508 Main Street, Newburg, WI 53090) a short drive down the road from Riveredge, as we need to keep the limited parking at the Riveredge lot clear for our breweries and volunteers
  • Shuttle buses will be running from Fireman’s Park to Riveredge throughout the event. The shuttle will start running at 11:30 AM. Please be aware that if you arrive earlier to the parking lot, you will need to wait until the shuttles start running. The drive takes only a few minutes, so if a shuttle is not there when you are, it will be coming very shortly! We will have attendants at the park if there are any questions.
  • Everyone drinking MUST be 21 or older and MUST bring a photo ID. We can not allow anyone to get a sampling wristband without an ID, so please make sure you bring it with you on to the shuttle bus to avoid having to take the shuttle back to the parking lot.
  • You do not have to bring along a print out of your registration receipt, but it can speed up the check-in process. We will have a check-in list of names so no physical tickets. Needless to say, as long as you have registered, you will be able to get into the fun! 
  • Plan on bringing cash for raffles, snacks (pretzel necklaces and popcorn!), Frothy t-shirts, and food trucks (some of the food trucks may take cars). We unfortunately do not have an ATM on site.
  • The free sampling, including access to the Beer Trek through the trails, goes from 12 to 3 PM. From 3 to 4 PM, we will have a cash bar, and the food trucks and live music to keep the party going!
  • The event goes on rain or shine. Mother Nature has trained us well, though, so if rain is an issue, we will move some stations inside as well as having a big tent in the yard so we can still have fun outside!
  • It’s better with friends: If you haven’t already, we’d be super grateful if you could share the Frothy with your friends and family who might be interested in joining! We’re a small nonprofit putting on a big beer festival, so all the help in getting the word out for this great day of fun and fundraising is hugely appreciated.
  •  Please drink responsibly. If you do not have a designated driver, you are responsible for making sure you are in a state to drive home safely. Water stations will be available around the event and we will have a table with free soda for all attendees. Be sure to take advantage of the food trucks who will be selling some delicious eats.
  • Cancellation Policy: Registrant will be refunded 75% of the registration fee if cancellation occurs up to 7 days (1 week) before the program.  Any cancellations within 7 days of the program will not be refunded unless the program is canceled by Riveredge staff. Tickets can be transferred to another person for no cost.

Other Questions? How can we help?
Please let us know any other questions you have! We’re happy to help! We can be reached by phone at 262-375-2715 or by email at!

We can’t wait for an amazing day!

Riveredge Ride Helpful Tips

We’re so glad you’ll be joining us for another incredible year of the Riveredge Ride on Sunday, June 23! Here are some important updates to keep in mind before the big day!

  • Parking: A reminder that all parking and the start of all routes take place at Fireman’s Park in Newburg (508 Main St, Newburg, WI 53090), right down the road from Riveredge. All routes do end at Riveredge for the picnic and afterparty, so you will need to pedal the 1.4 miles back to the park after you’re done celebrating OR a shuttle will be available for one person per party to return to Fireman’s Park and bring the car back to the loading zone in the parking lot.
  • Riders will need to pick up a ride packet that includes your t-shirt, ride map, and perhaps most importantly, your wristband that will get you the lunch included with your registration. Packets are available to pick up at Riveredge (4458 County Rd Y, Saukville, WI) now. Of course, you can also pick yours up the morning of the ride (starting at 6:30 AM- unfortunately we can not open registration earlier than that, so if you’re itching to go super early, please plan on picking up the packet ahead of time.)
  • When checking in and picking up your ride packet all you’ll need to give is your name- no need to bring any tickets or receipt. 
  • Recommended start times vary on which route length you are choosing to ride. Recommended start times are as follows: 

  •  Route Maps: there’ll be a copy of the route map in your ride packet, but if you’d like an earlier peek, click here for a PDF copy. We’ve also got the routes available digitally on Map My Ride, for those hi-tech riders. Check out the bike ride page on our website, and underneath each route description, find a link to the appropriate Map My Ride. Please note: routes do occasionally need to be changed slightly to detour around unexpected construction or the like. Stay tuned for any final updates closer to the race.
  • Member Thank You: As a special thank you to our wonderful members, we’ve got some great gifts for you. If you’re a Riveredge member, please stop by the membership booth at the after party for some special thank you’s.
  • It’s better with friends: If you haven’t already, we’d be super grateful if you could share the ride with your friends and family who might be interested in joining! We’re a small nonprofit putting on a big ride, so all the help in getting the word out for this great day of fun (and one of Riveredge’s biggest fundraisers of the year!) is hugely appreciated.
  • Safety Reminders: Your safety is our biggest concern! It is very important to remember that the Riveredge Bike Ride is not a race and the routes/roads are not closed. That means you’ll be sharing the roads with vehicles, so rules of the road must be observed and single file riding is required. We’ll have intersections marked for you, but most will not be guarded. Major intersections will be manned by route monitors, so please observe traffic monitors’ directions. Emergency repair and pre-ride bike safety checks are offered at the start and at all the rest stops. Helmets are required. Thanks for helping us make this a safe and enjoyable ride for everyone!
  • Have a blast: The motto of the Riveredge Ride is “Enjoying The Journey And The Destination”. The routes are designed to show off the best the area has to offer, so slow down, enjoy the view, and cherish time with an awesome community of riders. After all, it’s a ride, not a race!

Other Questions? How can we help?
Please let us know any other questions you have! We’re happy to help! We can be reached by phone at 262-375-2715 or by email at!

We can’t wait for an amazing day!

Christmas Bird Count Results

Near the end of each year, Riveredge coordinates a Christmas Bird Count, where volunteer counters go out into the field or even watch at their own home feeders, documenting every bird they can spot and identify. Ultimately, this data, and similar data from all around the country, is reported to the National Audubon Society, fueling the longest-running community science bird project and directly impacting Audubon and other conservation organizations’ work. We thought the Riveredge community might be interested to know the results too! Below, a recap of the results from Mary Holleback, Riveredge’s Adult Programs Manager, including some exciting news about a first-time appearance on the count! For a detailed list of every bird spotted, you can also click here. 

Want to learn more about the Christmas Bird Count and tons of other bird research efforts at Riveredge over many decades? The Noel J. Cutright Bird Club is featuring Mary, and other Riveredge staff and volunteers involved in these efforts in their monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 6th. Come enjoy this free presentation and learn more about the Bird Club at the same time!


Hello Birders,

Light snow fell overnight making driving a little challenging, never the less the annual Riveredge/Newburg Christmas Bird Count (CBC) held on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 was a big success. Together, 60 field counters and 36 feeder watchers saw a total of 76 species and 18,428 individual birds on the count.  Our ten year average number of species is 71 so we had an above average count. Over the 48 year history of our count we’ve broken 70 or more species nineteen times.

Data reports are still trickling in but here are a few preliminary figures. Only one of each of the following species was found:  great blue heron, wood duck, redhead, peregrine falcon, merlin (1 seen each of the past 3 yrs.), glaucous gull, Eurasian collared dove (1st since 2002), red-headed woodpecker (1st since 2012), hermit thrush, gray catbird (1st since 2008), fox sparrow and brown-headed cowbird. A single winter wren and two Carolina wrens were recorded which is the 1st time both have been seen in the same count since 2013.

Winter visitors were also somewhat sparse in comparison to other years.  Only one redpoll and northern shrike, eight snow buntings, 48 horned larks and 111 pine siskins were reported.  No longspurs or crossbills were seen.  If you do see any red crossbills researchers at Cornell are asking people to use their iPhones to record their flight calls and send them in for spectrogram analysis so that they can track the movement of the different crossbill “call types” around North American. Here’s the link –

For the first time ever two snowy owls were observed in our circle – one near the Cedarburg Bog (in the AM) and another near the West Bend Airport (in the PM). Since neither bird was all white they were most likely juveniles or females.  Snowy owls are irruptive predatory wanderers that breed in the Arctic and migrate south periodically. In irruption years most of the owls that are reported are juveniles which suggests that unusually successful breeding (large brood sizes) combined with declining food supplies (mostly lemmings) may have prompted them to push south in search of better hunting grounds. Thanks to sponsorship from numerous Wisconsin environmental organizations, six snowy owls will be outfitted with radio transmitters so their movements can be tracked this winter.  Check out the Project SNOWstorm ( website for tracking information.

We saw the highest number in 10 years of Canada geese (5503) & ruffed grouse (3) and highest number ever of northern goshawks (5) & rough-legged hawks (28).  Bald eagles (6) also made a good showing.  Two species whose population sizes should be on our “watch list” for next year are the great horned owl (lowest # in 10 yrs.) and bufflehead (1st time not seen in 10 years).

Thanks again for participating.  Please join us again for the 2018 Christmas Bird Count on Sat. December 15, 2018.  Start recruiting your friends and neighbors to help you now!

Happy New Year & happy birding,

Mary Holleback
Adult Programs Manager

Bug o’the Week – Contemplating Insect Eggs

Greetings, BugFans,


Most insects begin their lives inside an egg that’s been deposited near/onto/into the correct food source, in the correct habitat for the eventual young.  The BugLady often photographs these eggs, but she didn’t know much about them.  Here are some Selected Short Subjects about insect eggs (and the BugLady apologizes in advance, she couldn’t help herself).


  • Insect eggs come in all sizes and shapes and colors (and some change colors between the time they are deposited and the time they hatch).  For some eggsquisite pictures, see (ignore the text, which has a major eggsample of a “publish-in-haste-and-repent-at-leisure” boo-boo).  Some eggs are laid alone, some in clusters, and some en masse, enclosed in a webby or gelatinous protective case.  In some species, females detect pheromones left by recent, egg-laying females that tell them “This space is taken.”

eggs11 5rzeggs cupplant13 14rz

egg11 1rz

  • Like an onion, an insect egg is layered, the layers manufactured within the female’s reproductive system via a process called oogenesis.  In general, the outer layer/egg shell/chorion is made of lipo-proteins, sometimes covered with a waxy coat.  The chorion may be sticky initially, so it will adhere to the surface it’s placed on.  There are several layers between the chorion and the inner layer, which is called the cell wall or vitelline membrane and which wraps the nucleus and yolk.  The surface of the shell has one or more tiny openings called micropyles, usually located on the top of the egg, and it may be minutely textured.

egg case zelus13 1rz

  • The egg that is manufactured within the female contains at its core an unfertilized female gamete/germ cell.  Fertilization happens when sperm find their way through one of the micropyles/micropylar canals after the egg shell is formed around the nucleus.  After fertilization, division of cells in the nucleus will result in an insect embryo that eats the yolk particles.


  • Seems like a lot of fuss – what’s the advantage of this system?  Only that developing a weatherproof egg allowed insect ancestors to emerge from life in the sea about 400 million years ago, that’s all (although aquatic insects still lay their eggs in water – more about that in a sec).  An inner membrane called the serosa restricts water flow through the egg shell; holding inside the moisture that Mom put there so her little bug wouldn’t desiccate, and keeping eggscess water outside.  This has allowed insects to eggspand into almost all environments.  Silverfish and a few groups of flies don’t have a serosa, but they lay their eggs in moist habitats, and their embryos develop really fast.

egg mlkweed12 1

  • Too much of a good thing?  Turns out that the qualities that allow the egg shell to protect the developing bug from drying out and from getting squished and (with varying success) from predation are not quite so good for oxygen eggschange.  The answer – more “pyles” or pores.  Though some air can be absorbed through the shell itself, the main ingress area(s) is/are other pore(s) called aeropyles. (older references say that the micropyle also allows oxygen to enter; others differentiate and use the term “aeropyle” for pores involved in gas exchange).  The number and arrangement of these pores depends on the species.

eggs11 6rz

  • Insect eggs face big swings in air temperature, and although embryos have higher metabolisms at higher temperatures (needing more oxygen), the rate of diffusion of oxygen through the chorion doesn’t necessarily keep up.  This can result in low oxygen concentrations (hypoxia) within the egg (one source said that the hatching of common green darner eggs is triggered by hypoxia).  In the recent BOTW about millipedes, the BugLady mentioned that arthropods were bigger 400 million years ago, when temperatures were cooler and atmospheric oxygen concentrations were higher.  Information about the interseggtion of temperature, metabolism, and oxygen diffusion through the chorion suggests that arthropod eggs may also have been super-sized.
  • How about aquatic insects that still lay their eggs under water?  Blogger Dragonfly Woman, an eggspert on giant water bugs in the family Belostomatidae, tells us that “Many aquatic insect eggs don’t have aeropyles at all and depend on oxygen flowing directly through the shell.”  She continues “[Abedus herberti eggs] have a structure called a plastron network.  Plastron networks are meshworks made up of many tiny projections of the chorion.  This meshwork is thought to trap air against eggs when they are underwater so that they don’t drown.  Many terrestrial eggs have these plastron networks and this structure may allow them to survive accidental submersion for some time.  Water bugs also usually have plastron networks that may be responsible for their survival while they are underwater. Lots of other aquatic insects that lay their eggs in water don’t have these structures at all.”  Read her full eggsplaination at  Amazing pictures.
  • How long does it take for an egg to hatch?  Anywhere from a few days to months.  Many months, in the case of insects that overwinter in the egg stage.

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  • Eggs, it seems, don’t move, so they’re sitting ducks for predators.  Like their parents, many eggs are chemically protected against egg grazers and egg parasites.  The operative chemicals may be manufactured by Mom, or she may sequester them from plants that she eats (or both) before incorporating them into the shell.  Though direct paternal care of eggs is rare in insects, males of some species gift the female with toxic chemicals during courtship, and these are built into the egg.  Her eggs may have a toxic shell, be decorated with toxic hairs, be disguised with camouflage colors or brilliant with aposematic colors, or be unpalatable because of a layer of eggscrement.  In the “Very Cool” department, a female (herbivorous) stinkbug dots the outside surface of each of egg with feces that contain bacteria needed by her offspring to digest plant materials.  The newly-hatched bugs hang around the egg mass for a while, ingesting the bacteria.

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  • Honeybees are the only insects that incubate their eggs and young (by using body heat to keep the temperature in the nursery between 92 and 97 degrees) (they flap their wings like crazy).  Other insects are at the mercy of the temperature of air or water around them.  Warmer surroundings = faster hatching.


  • What do the plants think of all this?  Most than you’d eggspect.  The BugLady recalls the days when living things were divided firmly into two Kingdoms, Plant and Animal (eggcept for some pesky flagellated, unicellular, chlorophyll-bearing organisms lurking uneasily in between).  Plants were defined as organisms that didn’t move and didn’t have a sensory system and that produced their own food.  More and more studies show that plants not only receive signals, but they also communicate with other plants chemically (great Ray Bradbury short story about a man who designs a machine that lets him hear plants).  Research shows that plants recognize, react to, and communicate with plants downwind about grazing by caterpillars like gypsy moths, and that tomato plants are aware of oviposition by a moth and mobilize defensive proteins in their leaves before the caterpillars even hatch.
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Gypsy moth egg case


Write researchers Kim Jimwon et al, “Thus far, plants appear to recognize at least three events as indicators of future herbivory. First, some plants increase resistance against insects when a neighboring plant suffers insect herbivory. In this case, plants appear to “eavesdrop” on volatile organic compounds released by the neighboring plant under herbivory and elicit their defenses. Moreover, the volatile-receiving plants showed priming of defenses, meaning the receiver plants activated faster or stronger defenses upon the anticipated herbivory. Second, insect footsteps can induce defensive responses in plants…. Third, oviposition, one of the most common events preceding insect larval herbivory, can induce a variety of direct and indirect defenses of plants.”   For more about plant “senses”, see  And, of course, in the eggscalating chemical battle, a few insects can secrete chemicals that moderate the plant’s anti-herbivore tactics.  The BugLady’s head may eggsplode.


After last week’s episode on Common green darners, BugFan Linda, whose eggstraordinary videos of pond life were featured in a January BOTW, responded that she had posted this video just a few days before  AWESOME, Linda, thanks!


Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:

Powering Peregrines


The youngsters complete with the new bands which will allow scientists to track their progress as they fly away and start families of their own.

When you think of baby peregrine falcons, you might not necessarily think of power plants. But that’s exactly where many peregrines are hatching and (quite literally) learning to spread their wings these days. While, historically, peregrines built their nests on cliffs alongside rivers and lakes, widespread use of egg-thinning pesticides like DDT decimated the species in the 60’s until they were nearly extinct east of the Mississippi River.

It was an out-of-the-box idea by peregrine researcher Greg Septon to get falcons into boxes that has really made a difference for this species. When Greg approached We Energies to build nest boxes at some of their power plant sites, they quickly agreed. Captive-born peregrines were released at the plants and quickly took a liking to the new nest boxes. The program remains a rousing conservation success and today, 45-50% of all peregrines in Wisconsin are born at power plant sites.

The work is far from over, however, as peregrines remain endangered in Wisconsin. To continue the progress made, each young falcon born at these sites is banded by scientists so their progress can be tracked and studied throughout their lifetimes. These banding events are harmless to the birds but, in addition to the future scientific value, offer members of the public a rare chance to see this powerful species up close. When two of us at Riveredge received an invite to a banding at the Port Washington Generating Station, we were awed by the adorably ferocious power of these young falcons and in all the Riveredge connections we noticed in the room that day.

Take Mike Grisar. Mike, We Energies’ Principal Ecologist, works hand in hand with Greg to monitor and oversee the peregrine project and to take the work into classrooms as a conservation teaching tool. Mike also sits on Riveredge’s Board of Directors and is a key advisor for our research and conservation work. In a story similar to those we hear from many Riveredge Kids, Mike first visited Riveredge on a class trip in first grade grade and credits his time here as part of the foundation for his love of the outdoors, a love he has dedicated much of his work and personal and life to.

Fittingly, Mike succeeded Noel Cutright as Principal Ecologist at We Energies. Noel, who passed away in 2013, was foundational to the creation of the peregrine project, in addition to a huge range of other environmental initiatives throughout the state and beyond. He’s also a beloved member of the Riveredge Family- Noel, who was recently inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, sat on our Board and, in addition to many other efforts here, helped create the Bird Club that today bears his name. Noel’s legacy was well represented at the banding by members of the Wisconsin Ornithological Society, an organization he headed as President twice, and by four Noel J. Cutright interns the organization is sponsoring who will be joining Riveredge for the summer to research and contribute to the statewide Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II initiative. 

Vivian Kolosso, Riveredge Kid, examines the falcons and the banding process up close.

It’s the last Riveredge connection that might have most inspired us that day, though. It came in the form of Vivian Kolosso’s beaming face as she shook with excitement about her chance to witness the birds and banding in action. Vivian’s grandmother won two spots to the banding at Riveredge’s annual Farm Dinner fundraiser and knew it would make the perfect unique gift for her granddaughter, a Riveredge Kid who loves wildlife and science. “This is an amazing experience, and it just makes you feel good to see this live and in action,” Vivian told us after the banding.

That’s the Riveredge spirit- one Riveredge Kid inspiring another. Don’t be too surprised when you see Vivian featured here again some day. A talented writer with a love of Jane Goodall, Vivian told us she thinks she might one day want to be a wildlife writer. We can’t wait to see what she comes up with.

The power of tree climbing

Since we started a tree climbing program at Riveredge three years ago, we’ve had constant reminders of the power of adventure and exploration on kids (and adults!) From an increased sense of self confidence to a new appreciation for the world of around them, the impacts are tangible and numerous. We didn’t want you to have to take our word for it, though, so we went straight to the source. In this guest post, Cathy Gettelfinger, the mother of Ryan, a three year Tree Climbing Club member, shares what tree climbing has meant for her son and her family. Thanks so much to Cathy for this beautiful write-up!


We live in an amazing world.  It can also be a very busy and full world.  Our lives are often occupied with school, work, sports, errands, and endless digital distractions.  Our children have opportunities to accomplish fantastic things that one or two generations ago would not have been imagined.  We all want our children to get the best start in their lives that they possibly can, and we make sacrifices and work hard so they will be successful.  We make plans, juggle appointments, and overlap schedules so we can fit as much as we possibly can into every day.

It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of constantly planning for the future.  But by doing so, we may never be able to slow down enough to enjoy the “now.”  This is one thing Nature can help us with.  It can help us stop, listen and breathe.

Nature does not come out only on sunny days, or hide from a strong wind.  It does not plant itself only in ground where it will grow strong roots.  Nature exists in every moment of every day, no matter what.  Nature does not live a perfect, orderly life, yet it has complete freedom.  Nature doesn’t yearn for anything other than what exists right there, right then.  Nature doesn’t care about what will happen in 10 minutes, or tomorrow, or next month.  It is true to itself, and it is content.  There is something about witnessing that absolute persistence that is both humbling and inspiring.

The Tree Climbing program at Riveredge has been such a breath of fresh air (literally) for us.  It’s more than ropes and saddles and the goal of going up in a really, really big tree.  Tree climbing gets people outside into Nature, off the pavement, away from video games, and into the woods for a little while.  That is a great start, but it does so much more.  Tree climbing gives our kids a place to find balance physically, mentally and emotionally.  They don’t even know it’s happening – they just know they are having fun.  They come out of it with tired arms or legs, but they have such a renewed energy and attitude.

There are so many positive effects to come out of a morning or afternoon spent in the trees.  Free and unstructured time.  Personal fears relax.  Discovery and investigation.  Our brains are given a chance to slip out of the normal thought process and get creative.  Instead of specific instructions and predictable outcomes, our kids are set loose to decide their own favorite activities in the trees.  Sometimes it’s swinging on the ropes, experimenting with pushing off and spinning.  Many times it’s reaching a high branch, and sitting still, and enjoying the dappled sky through the tree canopy.   WhetheIMG_6167r laughing with a friend, or enjoying the quiet and thinking about nothing particular, it seems to come naturally around the trees.

Nature is random and does not follow the patterns of man-made things.  When kids get out in the woods and investigate the sticks, rocks, bugs and mud up close, they will find infinite variety.  They will see and touch things not found in our schools, homes, or manicured yards.  Whether the view is from high up in a tree, or down close to the ground, the kids will be challenged about what to think, or do about it.  And the answer is often to do nothing, but just observe and appreciate it.

Eventually, after some time in the woods, we will go back to our lives outside Riveredge.  We may need to remind ourselves of that feeling in the woods, in the trees.  And for our children, and ourselves, we should pause, and let Nature help us stop, listen, and breathe.  Enjoy this moment.

If you would like your own chance to relax and commune with nature Riveredge has many tree climbing options.  You may attend an open tree climb, schedule your own group climb or birthday party, climb with Summer Camp, or join one of our three tree climbing clubs.  For more information please contact Steff at or visit

Bug Lady Blog – Sawflies Among Us

Salutations, BugFans,


The BugLady has been mulling over sawflies.


First of all – not flies.  Sawflies belong to the huge (more than 150,000 of the million-plus insect species on the planet) Ant-Bee-Wasp-Sawfly order Hymenoptera (membrane-wings) (four of them), not the fly family, Diptera (two wings).  They are sometimes called “plant wasps.”

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Here’s their taxonomic pedigree:  In descending order (from the larger groups to the smaller, more restrictive/definitive groups), sawflies are placed within a Kingdom (Animalia), then a Phylum (Arthropoda), Class (Insecta), Order, Family, Genus, and Species.  In larger bunches of insects with more complicated relationships, scientists need to set up intermediate groups (“sub-this” and “super-that” and “tribe this” and “unnamed taxon that”) within these fixed divisions to make sense of it all.


Sawflies are in a sub-group under Hymenoptera called Symphyta, which includes a number of different sawfly families, plus some other families of wasps that, like sawflies, don’t have wasp-like waists.  They are often described as “primitive wasps,” and, in fact, an ancient line within the Symphyta seems to be the ancestor group for the non-sawfly Hymenopterans (the ants, bees, and wasps).  “Sawfly” comes from the shape of the female’s ovipositor, which, according to one source, she carries folded up but can flip open like a jackknife, and which she uses to saw open a hole in plant tissue so she can oviposit (she can’t sting, so resembling a wasp is to her advantage).  The three sawflies in this BOTW are in the “Common/True sawfly” family Tenthredinidae (which is divided into six subfamilies, three of which are represented here).  And that’s quite enough about their taxonomy (which is, of course in a state of flux).

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Second of all – there are a lot of them.  There are in the neighborhood of 90,000 (and counting) different kinds of insects in North America, and more than 1,100 of those species are in the group Symphyta (which has about 8,000 species globally).  Most North American sawflies are in the family Tenthredinidae – hence the name “Common sawflies”- and according to one source, 90% of the commonly-seen sawflies are Tenthredinids.  The colorful adults are often found on flowers, where they may eat nectar or pollen (some are carnivores/omnivores, and others eat little or nothing) and where some may be important pollinators.


Third, they can be pests – Sawflies have quite an internet presence because many of their larvae – selective eaters that can often be ID’d by their host plant – can be pests on a wide range of flowering and some non-flowering plants like ferns, horsetails, and mosses.

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Sawfly larvae are free-living and caterpillar-like and can be told from butterfly/moth caterpillars because sawflies have more than five prolegs (those hydrologically-operated abdominal stubs that are tipped by grappling hooks).  The Missouri Botanical Garden website points out that like Lepidopterans, sawfly larvae have three pairs of “hardened,” true legs on the thorax, but they have more prolegs – at least enough pairs to spell “SAWFLY.”  Most larvae feed on leaves, draping or coiling the end of their body over the leaf edge, and a lot of them are skeletonizers (there are also stem and leaf miners, and gall-makers).  Toxic leaves don’t seem to deter them, and many are able to release a noxious liquid at persistent predators.  Despite that talent, and the fact that discerning a single larva within a glob of them is confusing for predators, and their disconcerting habit of rearing up the front half of their bodies into an “S” shape in unison when startled, they are fed upon by other insects and by birds, are parasitized by the larvae of a bunch of wasps, and their pupal cases are found and eaten by a variety of small mammals.  Most Tenthredinids have a single generation per year in this neck of the woods, overwintering as pupae on twigs or in leaf litter or as mature larvae that will pupate in the spring.


There’s some good info about sawflies in Donald W. Stokes’ excellent A Guide to Observing Insect Lives, and they’ve appeared in two previous BOTWs:, and


The BugLady used a shot of a sawfly ovipositing on an Equisetum (horsetail) in a recent BOTW, and last summer she found a sawfly ovipositing on ferns, and then there’s that picture of a sawfly larva on a berry that’s been nagging at her.  Some people think that when you know an organism’s name, you know everything about it, but finding out an insect’s name opens the door to finding out its story – the “what about it?”.  Alas, the names of these three sawflies are approximate, and there isn’t much information about them out there.

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The sawfly on the Royal and Cinnamon ferns is probably in the genus Strongylogaster, whose larvae famously enjoy ferns.  They were ovipositing on Royal ferns at Riveredge Nature Center, flying and perching non-stop.  The BugLady seems to recall that there was a lot of action as the plants were putting up their fertile stalks, and a little later, the sawflies moved to the related Cinnamon ferns.  Note to self: check that phenology this summer.  Several of the 11 North American species in the genus are western, and several others concentrate on bracken ferns, so this may be Strongylogaster tacita.  Here’s a generic Strongylogaster larva:

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The sawfly on Field horsetail is probably in the genus Dolerus.  The offspring of at least six species in this genus feed on field horsetail (Equisetum arvense), and it looks a lot like a Dolerus sawfly on that is labeled “Unidentifiable beyond genus.”


There’s a lovely account by Edward A. Fitch (Essex, England) in the 1881 issue of “The Entomologist” about his attempts to rear sawfly larvae found in Equisetum stems.  “It is curious that until last year, the life-history of the Doleridae was quite unknown, despite the fact that we have fifty-seven European species, many of which are among our most common sunflies.  For some years, I have found a sawfly larva feeding within the stems of Equisetum, which I strongly suspected to belong to a Dolerus, but several, not very determined attempts at rearing the imagos failed……… It feeds inside the stems of Equisetum limosum, not eating through the nodes, but apparently coming out at the end and biting into the next division, just above the joint; generally, however, there is but one hole between the joints, and this mostly at the base, so probably the larva exits at the entrance hole……… My specimens hibernated in little earthen cells, quite at the bottom of the cage, which contained about six inches of earth…….. I could discover no trace of silk, or anything worthy of the name of a cocoon.”  Here’s a generic Dolerus larva –


And then there’s the sawfly larva that the BugLady photographed “pre-bifocals.”  A lovely shot of Starry false Solomon’s seal berries turned out, on the monitor, to have a mystery guest clinging to a berry like a tiny limpet.  This must be one of five species in the genus Phymatocera, the only sawfly genus that feeds on False Solomon’s seal.  Here’s an adult:  These are weak flyers that don’t expand their boundaries quickly.  Note to self – when the leaves of False Solomon’s seal start looking shredded this summer, check for photo-ops.


Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:

Share Your Heart!

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Heart of Canal Street is Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s community program that raises funds for children’s charities – and Riveredge is grateful to be chosen as a beneficiary! This year, $1,031,543 was distributed among 31 lucky charities throughout Greater Milwaukee. Support will help sustain Riveredge programs including new Family Nature Clubs, Summer Camp Scholarships, and an ongoing educational partnership with LUMIN Schools.

Heart of Canal Street has raised more than $14.6 million for hundreds of area children’s charities since 1994. The program began as a way to carry on the Potawatomi tradition of nurturing younger generations so they grow to lead healthy, productive lives. Giving has always been at the heart of the program. Now, it’s in the name.

Half of each $3 Canal Street Bingo game purchased goes to the Heart of Canal Street fund. Share your heart by playing the Canal Street Bingo game at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. Visit to learn more.