Wildflower Watch –Marsh Marigold

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.

Thin-legged Wolf Spider

Thin-legged Wolf Spider

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).

Eastern Long-legged Cobweaver

Eastern Long-legged Cobweaver

The BugLady’s message to people who are pining for the wildflower season to begin is this: Get thee to a wetland and watch the non-flowering plants. Mosses, especially, are going crazy these days, their green leaflets (the gametophyte part of the plant) bristling with the stalks of sporophytes, topped by variously-shaped spore capsules. They’re happier now than when the canopy above leafs out and casts them into shade. Ground-hugging liverworts are covered by reproductive pits and umbrellas, and any day now, cinnamon ferns will push up through the dead leaves and dried fronds that top the wetland hummocks. It’s beyond life-affirming.

Spinybacked Orbweaver– A Spider for Snowbirds

Spinybacked Orbweaver

This episode is dedicated to BugFan Tom. Tom has a day job, practices suburban agriculture afterwards, and conducts field research by night, so the BugLady really appreciates his fitting spider studies into his off time. He has an insatiable curiosity – and a camera – and he provided many pictures and lots of wonderful running commentary and deep thought about a cast of backyard spiders that he got to know personally (his BugFan wife suggested that he may have taken more pictures of those spiders than of his offspring’s childhood, a complaint that the BugLady’s parents would have been sympathetic to).

The Twelve Bugs of Christmas 2019

Bumblebee

Let’s celebrate the (almost bugless) Season with a dozen bugs that were photographed this year. Down through the centuries, various regional versions of the classic Christmas carol have included hares a-running, ducks quacking, badgers baiting, bulls a-roaring, biting cows, bears a-beating, cocks a-crowing, asses racing, starlings, plovers, goldspinks (goldfinches), sides of meat, ponies, deer, stalks of corn, cheese, windmills, and an Arabian Baboon. Never any bugs, though, so it’s up to us.

September Scenes

The leaves are starting to fall here in God’s Country, the birds are moving, and as of yesterday it’s officially autumn (Yikes!). But there are still some bugs out there – like wildflowers, some species of insects bloom in the spring, some in the summer, and others in the fall. The imperative to reproduce is strong as the days get shorter; most insects live for about a calendar year, mainly in their immature stages, with a short-but-productive adult stage. Most leave behind eggs or pupae or partly-grown offspring to weather the winter.

Adventures at Forest Beach

Forest Beach Migratory Preserve is a repurposed golf course north of Port Washington (WI), owned by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust. It’s mainly grassland, with woods and some brushy areas, and it was designed to serve as a stopover/refueling “bed and breakfast” for migrating birds. Water hazards were turned into small ponds, more ponds were dug, and tall grass prairie plants were planted.

Once upon a Fungus

When the BugLady was walking in the woods at Riveredge the other day, she found some plate-sized, stocky, very aromatic, gilled mushrooms growing out of the ground. Then, she saw something moving on the rim of an “over-the-hill” fungus.

Summer Survey 2019

The BugLady hopes that you’ve been getting out on the trail and drinking in the lushness of the summer. Subjects of this summer’s survey include wasps, aphids, syrphids, and katydids.

Tree Crab Spider

The BugLady was checking around the edge of a gravel parking lot near the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust’s Lake Twelve property when she found this beauty She had two immediate reactions: 1) what is it? And 2) it looks like an octopus clinging to a reef!