Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter.

As a historically and predominantly white-led environmental organization, we realize there is much ground to cover in diversifying the outdoors, and many reasons why Black Americans and People of Color haven’t always felt welcome in wilderness spaces. We support the Black Lives Matter movement and the need for systemic change in our society. Riveredge is a sanctuary where each person can embrace, celebrate, and revel in experiencing the wonders nature has to offer. We pledge to continue to improve the way we make these opportunities available to better serve our communities.

Black Lives Matter. Black Birders Matter. Black Experiences Matter.

Education is an ongoing process, and in-step with the Riveredge inquiry-based philosophy, we’re always trying to improve our understanding of our place in the world and how we can better serve the outdoor adventure community. Below are a few excellent resources from our partner organizations or those whose work we admire and respect.

https://www.creamcityconservation.org/

https://camberoutdoors.org/what-we-do/employer-tools/

https://www.diversifyoutdoors.com/resources

What’s Blooming at Riveredge? An Updated Phenology Report

One of the fantastic Riveredge volunteers, who has been exploring Riveredge trails for years to both take photographs and record observations, is letting us know what she sees blooming at Riveredge. In scientific terms, this is called “Phenology.” What is phenology? It’s very similar to another word, phenomenon. Phenology means what happens, and when, in nature. Some of the most common examples are: when flowers are blooming, when buds are present, when specific migratory bird species return, when birds are nesting.

Chances are, you already notice phenology you just might not call it that. If you notice when your garden is blooming, when the trees are budding, or when butterflies return to the skies – you’re observing phenology! Read below to learn what you can find along the trails when you visit Riveredge Nature Center right now. A notation of -P means that the flower has moved past peak bloom stage.

Jack in the Pulpit

Blooming

False Rue Anemone
Blue Violet
Wild Ginger
Prairie Smoke
Swamp Buttercup
Jack in the Pulpit
Kidney Leaved Buttercup
Wood Betony
Hoary Puccoon
Wild Blue Phlox
Miterwort
Early Meadow Rue
Heart Leaved Golden Alexander
Wild Geranium
Gooseberry
Cleaver’s Bedstraw
Lyre leaved Rock Cress
Wild Columbine
Kitten Tails
Golden Alexander
Thyme leaved Speedwell
Mayapple
Bastard Toadflax
Red Baneberry
Grove Sandwort
Stoneseed
Cursed Crowfoot
Robin’s Plantain
Wild Lily of the Valley
Tower Mustard
Solomon’s Seal
Small Yellow Lady’s Slipper
Wild Strawberry
Shooting Stars
Blue Eyed Grass
Cream Wild Indigo
False Solomon’s Seal
Dwarf Ginseng
Fringed Puccoon
White Baneberry
Virginia Waterleaf
Yellow Pimpernel
Bullhead Lily
Blue Flag Iris
Bladderwort
Sweet Cicely
Swamp Saxifrage
Golden Ragwort
Prairie Phlox

Prairie Smoke at Riveredge Nature Center

Prairie Smoke

Flower Buds Present

Giant Solomon’s Seal
Tall Meadow Rue
Lance Leaved Coreopsis
Feverwort

Lance-leaved Coreopsis

Sprouting/Leaves Present

Lead Plant
Purple Joe Pye Weed
Hog Peanut
Poke Milkweed
White Sage

Bug o’the Week – Monarch Butterfly Rerun

Howdy, BugFans,

 

The BugLady saw her first monarch butterfly about 10 days ago, and today saw the first on her property.  Here’s a rerun from two years ago on the status of the monarch, with different pictures, and a few goodies at the end.  For up-to-date information, see https://monarchwatch.org/blog/category/monarch-population-status/.

 

It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around how populations of an organism that occurs by the millions (like the horseshoe crab, of recent BOTW fame) could be threatened.  And yet.

In the early 1990s, an estimated 400 million Monarch butterflies (by some accounts, 700 million) overwintered in the mountains west of Mexico City.  By 2010, that number had dropped, but it stabilized at around 100 million, though only 33 million were found in the winter of 2013-14.  This year’s population (winter of 2017-18) is estimated at 93 million; the biomass of Monarchs went, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, from covering 39 football fields to covering about one.  In the mid-1990’s, overwintering butterflies were found on about 44 mountainous acres; in 2013-14 on less than two acres; and this winter, on about 7.5 acres, down about 15% from last year.

The “Eastern Monarchs” that winter in the oyamel fir forests represent the entire migratory population this side of the Rockies.  Pacific monarchs, whose numbers are also in steep decline, migrate along the coast to California, and there are non-migratory populations along the Gulf Coast, South Florida, and South Texas.

Still, 100 million butterflies is a lot of butterflies, right?  Not when you consider the impossibility of what they do, which is to undertake a 2,000-plus mile migration, spreading out from a pinpoint in Mexico to cover two-thirds of the continent.  Monarchs weigh about one-half of a gram each, which means that a Quarter pounder is equivalent to about 225 Monarchs (the BugLady was told there would be no math).  They face the physical dangers of a trip that takes them from as far north as Canada all the way to Central Mexico, where they spend months in resting mode before perking up in late winter and meandering north.  The same individuals that left Wisconsin begin the return trip, but their offspring’s offspring tag home here in May.

 

They face predators, cars, habitat loss, agricultural pesticides, and the shifting seasonal temperatures and increasingly severe weather events precipitated by Global Climate Change (aka Global Weirdness.  There were three hurricanes and two tropical storms at the start of the 2017 fall migration period http://monarchwatch.org/blog/2017/09/15/forgotten-victims-of-harvey-the-pollinators/).  The fall migration of 2017 along the Atlantic Coast was late, with some butterflies lingering into late October and even early November, lulled by unseasonably warm weather, the late migrants left susceptible to storms and freezes.  For a rundown on Monarch mortality factors, see “The State of the Monarch,” an August, 2015 BOTW, at http://uwm.edu/field-station/the-state-of-the-monarch/).  The only cushion against mortality factors like that is to maintain a huge population.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service tells us that “nearly a billion monarchs have vanished from the overwintering sites since 1990,” and according to a recent article in USA Today, “A 2016 study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that because of ongoing low population levels, there is an 11% to 57% risk that the eastern monarch migration could collapse within the next 20 years.”

 

Not on our watch!

Milkweed has declined dramatically in agricultural areas in the Midwest, where the Monarch’s population strongholds are (the “Milkweed Limitation Hypothesis”).  Planting milkweed for caterpillars (and planting other nectar-bearing wildflowers for adults) as a part of grassland habitat restoration is a good start and it’s pretty and it can’t hurt.  Chip Taylor, of Monarch Watch, goes further, saying that “we need a comprehensive plan on how to manage the fragmented edges and marginal areas created by development and agriculture since it is these edges that support monarchs, many of our pollinators, and the many forms of wildlife that are sustained by the seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, and foliage that result from pollination.”  Late-blooming, nectar-bearing flowers fuel the fall migration and allow Monarchs to gain the fat reserves that will carry them through the winter.

 

Research strongly suggests that limiting the use of glyphosate pesticide use (and getting Climate Change turned around) hold out the greatest hope for Monarchs.  For two articles about recent studies, see https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/67/12/1080/4557606 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5627118/ (there is math)

 

Finally, the Monarch is under consideration for Endangered Species protection, a decision that was to have been made by June, 2019 (https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/SSA.html).  It needs to be on that list so that legal protections will apply.  At the time this originally aired, the decision was expected within a few months, but the Fish and Wildlife Service extended their decision until the end of 2020 https://monarchjointventure.org/news-events/news/monarch-butterfly-esa-listing-decision-deadline-extended.

[Mildly political aside: And, of course, there needs to be an effective Endangered Species Act https://environment-review.yale.edu/biodiversity-brink-consequences-weakened-endangered-species-act.  Wonder what would happen if every school child drew pictures of Monarchs and sent them to their Congress-people and to the Fish and Wildlife Service?]

 

Bonus goodies:

An animated map https://maps.journeynorth.org/map/?map=monarch-adult-first&year=2020 (the BugLady does love a good animated map);

And a magical flight with a hummingbird drone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWOySU_hAz0

 

Go outside – plant nectar-producing plants.

 

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

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

What’s Blooming at Riveredge? An Updated Phenology Report

One of the fantastic Riveredge volunteers, who has been exploring Riveredge trails for years to both take photographs and record observations, is letting us know what she sees blooming at Riveredge. In scientific terms, this is called “Phenology.” What is phenology? It’s very similar to another word, phenomenon. Phenology means what happens, and when, in nature. Some of the most common examples are: when flowers are blooming, when buds are present, when specific migratory bird species return, when birds are nesting.

Chances are, you already notice phenology you just might not call it that. If you notice when your garden is blooming, when the trees are budding, or when butterflies return to the skies – you’re observing phenology! Read below to learn what you can find along the trails when you visit Riveredge Nature Center right now. A notation of -P means that the flower has moved past peak bloom stage.

Wild Ginger flowers can be a challenge to find, generally hidden beneath large, heart-shaped leaves.

Blooming

False Rue Anemone
Dutchman’s Breeches
Marsh Marigold
Blue Violet
Spring Cress
Wild Ginger
Wood Anemone
Prairie Smoke
Swamp Buttercup
Large Flowered Trillium
Jack in the Pulpit-P
Blue Cohosh
Downy Yellow Violet
Kidney Leaved Buttercup
Wood Betony
Hoary Puccoon
Wild Blue Phlox -P
Miterwort
Bellwort
Pussy Toes
Nodding Trillium
Early Meadow Rue
Heart leaved Golden Alexander
Wild Geranium – P
Gooseberry
Common Valerian
Cleaver’s Bedstraw
Goldenseal
Lyre leaved Rock Cress – P
Wild Columbine
Kitten Tails
Golden Alexander
Jacob’s Ladder-P
Red Trillium
Starry False Solomon’s Seal
Thyme leaved Speedwell
Mayapple -P
Bastard Toadflax -P
Red Baneberry
Grove Sandwort
Stoneseed
Cursed Crowfoot
Robin’s Plantain
Wild Lily of the Valley
Tower Mustard
Solomon’s Seal
Small Yellow Lady’s Slipper -P
Wild Strawberry
Shooting Star -P
Blue Eyed Grass
Cream Wild Indigo
False Solomon’s Seal
Dwarf Ginseng-P
Star Flower
Fringed Puccoon -P

Mayapple flowers are hidden beneath those great big leaves.

In Bud

Wild Garlic
Yellow Pimpernel
Yarrow
Prairie Phlox
Blue Wild Indigo

The aptly named Pussy Toes, look akin to a soft, fuzzy feline foot atop a stem.

Sprouting/Leaves Present

Common Milkweed
Large leaved Aster
Stiff Goldenrod
Carrion Flower
Zig Zag Goldenrod
Jewelweed
Wild Quinine
Poison Ivy

Bug o’the Week – Wildflower Watch –Marsh Marigold

Howdy, BugFans,

May is American wetlands month, so we’ll end it in the swamp, in the company of Marsh Marigolds, the flowers that turn newly thawed wetlands a riotous yellow from the last days of April through much of May.  Skunk cabbage and pussy willows may whisper the arrival of spring, but marsh marigolds crank up the volume.

The BugLady should have started this project two weeks ago when the marsh marigold was at its peak, but the truth is that despite the masses of flowers it produces, she seldom sees many insects on it, and the ones she sees are as likely to be resting as dining.  According to the great Illinois Wildflowers website (https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/), “The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract flies and bees primarily. This includes Bombylius major (Giant Bee Fly), Syrphid [hover, flower] flies, Halictid [sweat] bees, honey bees, and others. Two leaf beetles are occasionally found on the foliage of Marsh Marigold: Plateumaris nitida and Hydrothassa [Prasocuris] vittata. It is possible that they eat the foliage. For other herbivores, specific information for Marsh Marigold is lacking. Because the acrid foliage contains toxic alkaloids and glycosides, it is usually avoided by mammalian herbivores.”

Here are some marsh marigold basics, adapted from an article the BugLady wrote for the newsletter of the Friends of the Cedarburg Bog in 2012:

  • Your Grandma probably called them “Cowslips,” which comes from an Old English word “cuslyppe “or “cu slyppe” for cow slobber or cow dung.

  • Thoreau called them “A flower-fire bursting up, as if through crevices in the meadow where they grow.”  He also said that “the flower has no scent but speaks wholly to the eye.”  He was wrong about the scent, but the flower’s faint odor is more easily detected by insects than by humans.

  • Early 20th century naturalist John Burroughs wrote that “they give a golden lining to many a dark, marshy place in the leafless April woods.

  • They’re not marigolds, and marsh buttercup would be the most accurate name for these members of the Buttercup family Ranunculaceae (Ranunculus is Latin for “little frog”). The scientific name, Caltha palustris, means “Cup of the swamp.”

  • Marsh marigold is found in damp-to wet ground around the world, growing in sunny places with saturated soil.  Forty years ago, it was hard to find a marsh marigold in bloom before the first week of May; now it often flowers in the last ten days of April.

  • The flower has no petals but is made up of five to ten shiny, yellow sepals (sepals are the usually-green, modified leaves that clasp the flower bud, protecting it before it blooms). The sepal’s yellow color is in a waxy coating that can easily be scraped off with your thumbnail – in a few of the pictures, you can see white spots where the color has been eaten away.

  • Marsh marigold is an abundant source of pollen and nectar that attracts more than three dozen species of early sweat bees, flower flies, and bee flies.  A bee’s-eye-view is vastly different than ours is, and its perception of UV light makes the yellow sepals look purple and turns the center, where the nectar is found, black.

What did the BugLady find on the flowers and leaves?

MINING BEES AND SWEAT BEES hard at work ensuring next year’s show.

A TEPHRITID FLY – Tephritidae is the (true) fruit fly family, as opposed to the pomace fly family Drosophilidae, home of those universal lab rats, the Drosophila.  Tephritid larvae develop within various plant parts.

A CRAB SPIDER having a Sistine Chapel (or an ET) moment.

MOTH FLIES – The BugLady has been seeing these tiny (1.5 to 4 mm), aptly-named flies (family Psychodidae) on the vegetation in wetlands recently.  Some moth flies live wholesome existences, and others live in sewers and feed on the by-products thereof.  These feed on nectar and on stuff they find in stagnant water; their offspring eat algae, fungi and bacteria suspended in the still waters of the swamp.  For the story of another group of moth flies, see https://uwm.edu/field-station/moth-fly/.

(PINK) SPOTTED LADY BEETLE – Ladybugs eat aphids and other tiny critters, both as larvae and as adults – you can find both stages feeding in aphid herds side by side.  Pink lady beetles prefer dampish habitats, and, according to bugguide.net, “Unlike most lady beetles, plant pollen may constitute up to 50% of the diet. This is the only North American lady beetle that can complete its life cycle on plant pollen.

A MALE CRAB SPIDER lurking.  Spoiler alert – the fly flew.

ANTS are unsung (and ineffective) pollinators.  Yes, they are all over the flowers, but since they are on foot, it’s hard for them to move pollen from one flower to another (unless it’s a cluster of flowers).  Plus, they groom their slick little bodies constantly.

BAG WORM – This little collection of plant material looks like a case made by a bag worm moth larva called Psyche casta https://bugguide.net/node/view/1098038/bgimage.  The BugLady often sees these on screens and siding and even on leaves, but never before on flowers.  Larvae make the shelters, enlarge the shelters as they grow, pupate in the shelters, and the wingless adult females receive suitors in the shelters, and lay their eggs there.

SYRPHID FLY – aka Hover or Flower fly.  A great group of often-exquisitely-marked bee mimics that feed on pollen and nectar.

MOSQUITO WITH MITE – Both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar – males exclusively and females as a supplement.  This one is being fed upon by the nymph of a water mite that attached when the mosquito was in its aquatic, larval stage.

BUTTERCUP BEETLE Prasocuris vitata – A leaf beetle (Chrysomelid) that is a buttercup/marsh marigold specialist https://uwm.edu/field-station/buttercup-beetle/.

PLATEUMARIS NITIDA – The BugLady’s first thought was “what’s a Donacia (a water lily leaf beetle https://bugguide.net/node/view/1470040/bgimage) doing in a marsh marigold thicket, far from the nearest water lily?”  Then she looked up the second beetle mentioned in the Illinois Wildflower site.  It turns out that some members of the genus Plateumaris are Donacia look-alikes and marsh marigold is listed as the host plant of at least one species.  The beetle’s gleam is due to physics, not pigments.  While looking for info about this beetle, the BugLady came across this nicely illustrated paper about the feeding behaviors of leaf beetles   https://www.researchgate.net/publication/240671564_Feeding_behavior_of_leaf_beetles_Coleoptera_Chrysomelidae.

Also seen were a plume moth https://bugguide.net/node/view/1322782/bgpage, a soldier beetle, several more spider species, and a mining bee, and a clever shelter built by a spider that bent a yellow sepal over and anchored it with silk.

FYI – BOTW will, as usual, be Closed for June, so that the BugLady can go out and photograph the heck out of the local nature areas.  She will post tasteful and timely reruns.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

What’s Blooming at Riveredge? An Updated Phenology Report

One of the fantastic Riveredge volunteers, who has been exploring Riveredge trails for years to both take photographs and record observations, is letting us know what she sees blooming at Riveredge. In scientific terms, this is called “Phenology.” What is phenology? It’s very similar to another word, phenomenon. Phenology means what happens, and when, in nature. Some of the most common examples are: when flowers are blooming, when buds are present, when specific migratory bird species return, when birds are nesting.

Chances are, you already notice phenology you just might not call it that. If you notice when your garden is blooming, when the trees are budding, or when butterflies return to the skies – you’re observing phenology! Read below to learn what you can find along the trails when you visit Riveredge Nature Center right now.

False Rue Anemone

False Rue Anemone

Blooming

Penn Sedge
Spring Beauty
False Rue Anemone
Dutchman’s Breeches
Marsh Marigold
Blue Violet
Spring Beauty
Wild Ginger
Wood Anemone
Prairie Smoke
Swamp Buttercup
Prairie Buttercup
Large Flowered Trillium
Jack in the Pulpit -P
Blue Cohosh – P
Downy Yellow Violet
Kidney Leaved Buttercup
Wood Betony
Hoary Puccoon
Wild Blue Phlox
Miterwort
Bellwort
Pussy Toes
Nodding Trillium
Early Meadow Rue
Heart Leaved Golden Alexander
Wild Geranium
Gooseberry
Common Valerian
Cleaver’s Bedstraw
Goldenseal
Lyre Leaved Rock Cress
Wild Columbine
Kitten Tails
Golden Alexander
Jacob’s Ladder
Red Trillium
Starry False Solomon’s Seal

Virginia Waterleaf at Riveredge Nature Center

Virginia Waterleaf

Flower Buds Present

Virginia Waterleaf

Pale Purple Coneflower

Sprouting/leaves Present

Stoneseed
Swamp Lousewort
Prairie Dock
Pale Purple Coneflower

What’s Blooming at Riveredge? An Updated Phenology Report

One of the fantastic Riveredge volunteers, who has been exploring Riveredge trails for years to both take photographs and record observations, is letting us know what she sees blooming at Riveredge. In scientific terms, this is called “Phenology.” What is phenology? It’s very similar to another word, phenomenon. Phenology means what happens, and when, in nature. Some of the most common examples are: when flowers are blooming, when buds are present, when specific migratory bird species return, when birds are nesting.

Chances are, you already notice phenology you just might not call it that. If you notice when your garden is blooming, when the trees are budding, or when butterflies return to the skies – you’re observing phenology! Read below to learn what you can find along the trails when you visit Riveredge Nature Center right now.

Prairie Smoke

Prairie Smoke

Blooming

Penn Sedge
Bloodroot
Hepatica
Spring Beauty
False Rue Anemone
Cut Leaved Toothwort
Dutchman’s Breeches
Marsh Marigold
White Trout Lily
Blue Violet
Spring Cress
Wild Ginger
Wood Anemone
Prairie Smoke
Swamp Buttercup
Prairie Buttercup
Large Flowered Trillium
Jack in the Pulpit
Blue Cohosh
Downy Yellow Violet
Kidney Leaved Buttercup
Wood Betony
Hoary Puccoon
Wild Blue Phlox
Miterwort
Bellwort

Wild Columbine

Wild Columbine

In Bud

Nodding Trillium
Wild Lily of the Valley
Golden Alexander
Wild Columbine
False Solomon’s Seal

Golden Alexander

Sprouting/Leaves Present

Cow Parsnip
Bedstraws
Goldenseal
Blue Giant Hyssop

Bug o’the Week – Festive Tiger Beetle

Howdy, BugFans,

The BugLady has been enjoying the company of these lovely beetles on her walks over the prairie at Riveredge recently (no, despite the recent rash of Riveredge-based episodes, she does not own stock in Riveredge or even get free maple syrup – it’s just a very cool place to walk – and witness a little beetle hanky-panky).

The beetles live along a sandy trail, and as you walk toward them, they fly up in front of you for a few feet, often landing at the path’s edge where sparse grass begins.  At just under a half-inch long, they’re not huge – the BugLady was showing them to someone one day, and they had thought the beetles were flies.

Tiger beetles used to be considered a separate family, but now they’re classified as the subfamily Cicindelinae in the ground beetle family Carabidae, a huge family with about 34,000 species worldwide, some 2,500 of them in North America.  According to bugguide.net, there are 117 species of tiger beetles north of the Rio Grande (and almost as many subspecies – more about that in a sec).  The BugLady has said it before – someone is sure having fun naming these beetles.  Festive tiger beetles (Cicindela scutellaris) are in the tribe Cicindelini (Flashy tiger beetles) and in the genus Cicindela (Temperate tiger beetles).

They are famous for their boldness – after a short flight, tiger beetles often land and turn to face their stalker https://bugguide.net/node/view/894153/bgimage – and for their speed (there’s a reason why many tiger beetle pictures are of the beetle’s rear).  They can hit 5 mph on all sixes; Jim McCormac, in his excellent Ohio Birds and Diversity blog says “they move in impossibly quick bursts, as if propelled by small explosives.” http://jimmccormac.blogspot.com/2009/04/tiger-beetles.html.

Festive tiger beetles are considered one of the most widely-distributed species of tiger beetles, present in the US east of the Rockies (except, oddly, in the Appalachians) and across southern Canada from Alberta to Quebec.  They’re found in sandy, relatively unshaded habitats – paths, edges, and swales – away from water.

Tiger beetles have been discussed in these pages before (https://uwm.edu/field-station/tiger-beetles-revisited/), and a festive tiger beetle’s biography follows the general tiger beetle template.  Briefly, it’s a two-year life cycle (but it’s not synchronized, so various stages are present each year).  According to the University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web account of Festive tiger beetles, “Females lay about 50 eggs in dry sand or sandy soils. Each egg is deposited into its own hole, about 5 to 10 mm deep. Larvae develop to the 3rd instar stage in their first summer and hibernate over the winter. In the following spring they become active and begin feeding, then pupate in June and July. They emerge as adults in August, often after a soaking rain. Adults overwinter in a burrow and are sexually mature when they emerge the next spring.”  The BugLady was surprised to see this beetle in May – she’s accustomed to chasing them in September – but she learned that they’re typically seen in late spring and then again at the end of summer.

The well-camouflaged larva lurks at the mouth of a vertical tunnel of its own creation https://bugguide.net/node/view/1480242/bgimage (the female’s choice of a soil type for her eggs is critical), waiting for small, unwary pedestrians to pass by.  Having nabbed some prey, they retire with it to the bottom of their lair.  Adults are carnivores, too, chasing ants and other invertebrates.  Adults are eaten by spiders, robber flies, and a few birds and mammals, and larvae by wasps, ants, and some beetles.

Festive tiger beetle are diurnal, and ground temperatures in their habitat can swing between extremes, but the beetles have strategies for that.  Overheated beetles may shelter under vegetation or may tunnel shallowly into the sand, and they may also stay underground at night, when the sand’s surface cools.  They aestivate (from the Latin for “summer”), disappearing during the hottest months.  Like some other insects, they bask in the sun to increase their internal temperature when they’re chilly, and they stand “on tiptoe” to get away from the heat https://bugguide.net/node/view/1062656/bgimage when they’re hot.

According to Eric Eaton at bugeric.blogspot.com, “The metallic nature of tiger beetles is structural, rather than the result of pigmentation. Layers in the exoskeleton reflect various wavelengths of light.”  Even though brightly-colored, the patterns on the adults elytra break up their body shape visually and can make them hard to spot.

Not only are Festive tiger beetles considered one of the most widely-distributed species of tiger beetles, they are also among the most variable species of tiger beetles, and that’s because entomologists have described a bunch of subspecies.

What’s a subspecies?  Within a species’ range, especially if it covers a wide geographic area, populations may take on a unique appearance, lined up in a continuum across their range.  They’re the same species genetically– they could still interbreed more-or-less successfully (for now) if they met up with each other, though they might not recognize each other.  They may be on the way to becoming distinct species.  In appearance, (phenotype) they’re different, due to environmental factors – different enough that scientists give them an extra name that indicates their separateness.  Our Upper Midwestern Festive beetle is Cicindela scuttelaris lecontei, aka C. s. lecontei.

The folks at the Animal Diversity Web list these subspecies and ranges (there may be a mix of subspecies in an area), and the BugLady added pictures from bugguide.net.  Remember – at present, this is a single species.  .

  1. s. scutellaris(Festive tiger beetle). West of the Missouri River.  https://bugguide.net/node/view/1722649/bgimage, and https://bugguide.net/node/view/1479472/bgimage;

  1. s. flavoviridis,(Chartreuse tiger beetle).  Central northern Texas.  https://bugguide.net/node/view/1504640/bgpage;

  1. s. lecontei(Leconte’s tiger beetle)– that’s us!  Throughout the northeast and Midwestern states.  https://bugguide.net/node/view/1635202/bgimage, and https://bugguide.net/node/view/747313/bgimage;

  1. s. rugata(Rugate tiger beetle). From eastern Texas to western Arkansas.  https://bugguide.net/node/view/623060/bgimage;

  1. s. rugifrons(Festive tiger beetle). Along the Atlantic seaboard from Massachusetts to the Carolinas. https://bugguide.net/node/view/1059359/bgimage, and https://bugguide.net/node/view/659944/bgimage;

  1. s. unicolor(Unicolored tiger beetle).  Southeastern Coastal Plain and scrubinto Missouri and Tennessee.  https://bugguide.net/node/view/569015/bgimage and https://bugguide.net/node/view/894148/bgimage;

And C. s. yampae (Yampa tiger beetle).  Found only in northwestern Colorado.  https://bugguide.net/node/view/1631754/bgimage.

If you want more than the Cliff’s Notes version, see https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Cicindela_scutellaris/

Can’t get enough of these great beetles?  Here are a few picture collections: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/readers-wildlife-photos-207/, and

http://bugeric.blogspot.com/2015/04/springtime-tiger-beetles.html, and http://www.wvdnr.org/publications/PDFFiles/tigerbeetlebrochure.pdf, and our home town tiger beetles https://wisconsinbutterflies.org/tigerbeetle/family/35-tiger-beetles.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

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

Bug o’the Week – Thin-legged Wolf Spider

Howdy, BugFans,

 

The BugLady likes spiders, and she can even hail a number of species by name when she meets them, but she’s never applied herself to their taxonomy, and she jokes that maybe she shouldn’t be identifying them all by herself (to which BugFan Mike graciously replied that maybe nobody should be).

Sources agree that she’s allowed to be confused by wolf spiders (family Lycosidae) vs nursery web spiders (family Pisauridae https://bugguide.net/node/view/1603298/bgimage).  Both can be mottled brown with long, striped legs, and neither spins a trap web.  In his bugeric blogspot, Eric Eaton says that wolf spiders are most likely to be seen on the ground and nursery-web spiders on vertical surfaces, but the BugLady usually sees the spectacular Dolomedes fishing spider on boardwalks and dock railings https://uwm.edu/field-station/dark-fishing-spider/.  If you get up close and personal, you’ll see that the eyes in the two families are arranged differently (scroll down to the diagrams at https://bugguide.net/node/view/1967 and https://bugguide.net/node/view/1963).  Wolf spiders are famous for having tissue in their eyes that reflects light at night https://www.backyardnature.net/yucatan/spideyes.htm and https://www.inhs.illinois.edu/outreach/spotlight/na/shining-spide/.

 

If she is lucky enough to see a female that’s carrying an egg sac, then she knows what she’s looking at!  Nursery web spiders carry their egg sacs in front, with their jaws, and wolf spiders carry them to the rear, attached to the spinnerets, often raising their abdomen as they walk, to avoid damaging the sac.

The BugLady was curious about how an egg sac is made and was thrilled to find this description in the University of Michigan’s excellent BioKids series: “After mating in May and June, female thin-legged wolf spiders begin constructing an egg sac. They first spin a circular disc of web from their spinnerets on the ground. They make it larger and lay their eggs in the center. They spin a covering disc on top of the eggs, connecting it with the bottom disc, to form a sac and use their mouthparts, called chelicerae, to detach the sac from its surroundings. Fresh threads are laid over it and females carry it under their abdomen by their spinnerets into the summer. The average number of eggs per sac is 48, though this number is highly affected by the size and health of the female parent.”  http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Pardosa_mackenziana/

 

The story of egg sac transport has a different ending in each family, too.  Nursery web spiders install their egg sac in a shelter that they spin in vegetation, and they hang around outside it to guard the eggs until they hatch and the spiderlings disperse.  Wolf spiders lug the egg sac around until it hatches, whereupon the tiny spiders climb up onto Mom’s abdomen (stacked several layers deep, if she was prolific) and she carries them for a week or two longer (a Mother’s Day connection).

 

Anyway, the BugLady was enjoying the boardwalk at the ephemeral pond in late summer when a small, leggy spider emerged from between the boards with an egg sac on its rear, and on subsequent visits she photographed the species again.  BugFan Mike confirmed her guess that they were Thin-legged wolf spiders (TLWS) in the genus Pardosa (thanks, Mike), but to ID them to species, you need to look at their “naughty-bits.”  There are more than 100 Pardosa species from the Rio Grande through Canada (500 worldwide) and the genus contains a number of “species groups” – groups of very similar-looking (to us), closely-related, yet distinct (to each other) species.  Eaton says that “Pardosa has long spines that are almost perpendicular to the axis of the leg itself.  The hind pair of legs is long, and it is often easier to see the spines on that rear pair.”  They’re found around water and in fields, leaf litter, and woods, and some are habitat generalists, which is unusual in spiders.

 

TLWSs have good eyesight that allows them to see movement, but they are “sit-and-wait” predators of small, ground-dwelling invertebrates rather than an active stalkers.  Apparently they use vibrations as well as visual cues while hunting, and they also have sensory hairs on their legs that help them find prey and that detect chemicals and odors, including pheromones left by females.

 

Lorus and Marjory Millne, in the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders, tell us that Pardosa “hunts over a limited territory and often basks in the sunkeeping warm and ready for a quick pursuit of potential prey” (most wolf spiders are nocturnal).

 

Based on the biographies that she found of a few TLWS species (the BugLady is assuming that there is some similarity in lifestyle across the genus) courtship dances occur on sunny days (here’s a cool video of a Russian male TLWS approaching a female with love on his mind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Inl3KoiZxJc).  Males will face off against each other and even fight over a female.

 

She produces eggs pretty quickly after mating – usually she makes only one egg sac, but she may eventually make another one.  Her spiderlings will hatch and feed, and will overwinter half-grown, in suspended animation, restarting in the spring.  If she makes a second egg sac, it will have fewer eggs, but each egg will include more food so that the second brood is not disadvantaged by its later start in life.

 

She carries the sac until the eggs are mature and then helps her young exit by tearing the sac open with her jaws.  When they leave their perch on her abdomen, the tiny spiders often spread to new territories by ballooning (this episode was written in fall, but spider flight may take place any time https://uwm.edu/field-station/spider-flight/).

People like to assign plusses or minuses to animals, and the BugLady often finds these assessments in the course of her research (as one of the BugLady’s English lit teachers once said, “Man is the measure of all things”).  The BugLady tries not to “rate” bugs, but she might make an exception in the case of the murder hornet https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/invasion-murder-hornets-180974809/.  Yes, TLWSs are beneficial because some of their prey consists of “pest” insects (so judge-y), but to a TLWS, a meal is a meal is a meal, so they also partake of “good” insects, too.  As one author implied – they come so close to getting the Stamp of Approval.  Get over it.

 

 

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

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

May 15 Riveredge Covid-19 Spring Update

Friday, May 15 2020

 

Dear Community,

Spring is feeling more like summer right now, and the beauty of Riveredge is really starting to grow. If you haven’t been out to Riveredge recently, now is the perfect time to come! Our little family has created a new habit of hiking most days together. Sometimes it’s a short hike near our home, and other days we venture farther away. Our pup loves to hike with us too, so we’ve found great use in the list of dog appropriate trails put together by Riveredge. We also cherish our time on the Riveredge trails (pup free) and have used those journeys to help our dog get reaccustomed to the days when we won’t all be home 24/7.

Visitor’s Center to Return to Regular Hours on Monday, June 15

I’m excited to announce that plans are underway to reopen the Visitor’s Center on Monday, June 15. Visitor’s Center hours are 8:30am – 4:30am Monday – Friday and 9:00am – 4:00pm on Saturday. As shown in the picture above we are asking that anyone entering the Visitor’s Center wear a facial covering and adhere to standard social distancing protocols. Additionally, entrance and exit will be one-way, so please exit either out the back porch door, or through the west door past the restrooms.

We are currently finalizing our “Reopening Plan for Riveredge,” working to acquire all needed supplies, and training our staff on the details of the plan. Rest assured that we are following recommendations by county, state, and national health authorities in relation to public spaces, group programming, and outdoor recreation. We are confident that our plans will greatly reduce risk due to virus transmission at Riveredge and allow all of us to return to full, yet modified, operations. To allow full transparency, we will place a list of our modifications and precautions on our website in the coming week.

 

In-Person Programming to Resume

We are excited to announce that small group nature programs will resume after May 26! We are confident that our plans for providing fun, educational programs at Riveredge not only follow, but exceed, recommendations set forth by the health authorities. A brand new, social distancing friendly Frog Fest is returning on Sunday, June 7! Summer programming will soon be listed on our online calendar. Please check it frequently as more and more programs will be listed as modifications for those programs are finalized.

Going forward, for the foreseeable future, participants must pre-register for ALL programs, including free programs and guided hikes. No day-of registrations will be allowed.

When you do come to a program, please read the details carefully. Some programs (like Frog Fest) also direct you to a sign-up genius to claim an arrival time for your family/group. All programs will have a designated arrival location at Riveredge. The utilization of our dispersed “home bases” allows excellent social distancing and the elimination of congregating groups.  Along with our 379 acres and 10 miles of trails, we will be using our River Outpost, Sugarbush House, Visitor’s Center, and Yurt Village for programming home bases this year. A new Farm upgrade will be completed this fall, adding yet another dispersed learning home base to our list.

 

SUMMER CAMP!

I’m so very happy to announce that our ever popular “Nature Journeys” summer day camp program will return for the summer of 2020! After what seems like months of ambiguity and anxiety, we can now announce that our summer camp program has been modified to not only meet, but exceed, the recommendations by local and national health agencies. We have also closely followed the recommendations of the American Camping Association to inform this decision. Lots of details will be sent to currently registered camp families early next week. We do still have some spots available for summer camp 2020, and we are now accepting additional registrations on our summer camp page.

For those families who have a young person signed up for the uber popular Boundary Waters backcountry trip – a final determination has not yet been made about the status of this trip. We are optimistic, but we do have some additional facts and options to determine. You will be contacted next week regarding options and details for this incredible summer opportunity for your youth.

 

Virtual Programming

We also know that, for a variety of reasons, some individuals and families are not yet comfortable returning to in-person activities.  We plan to continue to provide our fun, and educational, Riveredge Virtual Naturalist videos throughout the summer as well as our popular Tea & Topics with Riveredge Zoom programs through June. We are looking into ways to provide a virtual summer camp option in August.  We know everyone’s situation is different.  At Riveredge, everyone is welcome, and we are enthusiastic about providing experiences that connect all of us with the natural world.

 

With Great Gratitude

Thank you to all of you for your gracious understanding, patience, and support over this time of great uncertainty. We have been humbled by the emails of support, stories of joy brought to you by the Riveredge land, and smiling faces hiking the trails. This is yet another time when the Riveredge Family shines brightly. We are all so excited to return and see each other in person (we appreciate Zoom, but, WOW, we miss seeing all of  you)!

We know that things will not be the same as they once were. Our utmost concern is the health and safety of YOU, all of our learners and visitors, our volunteers, and our staff. We’ll take precautions at Riveredge for months to come to minimize risk of virus transmission. We also know that time in nature is healing for our minds and bodies. We know that our youngest Riveredge Family members need each other and a summer of catching frogs.  And, we know that the Riveredge Family will look out for each other and work together to keep us all healthy.

Now, get on outside and enjoy the summer-like weather that has FINALLY arrived!

Keep Smiling!

 

Jessica Jens

Riveredge Executive Director
Riverdge Kid Since 2013