Note: All links leave to external sites. Howdy, BugFans, From July into September, the Creeping Juniper Nature Trail at Kohler Andrae State Park is ruled by grasshoppers, and the BugLady had lots of fun chasing them around this summer (she… Read more
Note: Some links below go to external sites. Howdy, BugFans, The general rule of thumb is that if you want to find insects, look at flowers. Even though summer is fading, there are still flowers in bloom. Some Liatris/blazing stars… Read more
Note: All links below go to external sites. Howdy, BugFans, Remember – the BugLady is on vacation for the month of June, hoping for the rain to stop and the temperatures to rise (a little bit – she gets brain-dead… Read more
(Note: All links below are to external websites and leave the UWM website.) Howdy, BugFans, While we’ve been quietly going about our business during this way-too-long pandemic (you know things are bad when you fantasize about going to a board… Read more
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.