Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Week from Hell

You haven't heard much from me this week. There's a reason. Last Friday (6/27) began an interesting time in my life. I drove up to Lake County to partcipate in their BioBlitz. Al large part of my activities involved black lighting.

Not much was coming to the sheet in terms of species diversity. We did get a couple of fishflies and a few geometrid moths.

Note all the mosquitoes on the sheet with the moth. This was representative. The mosquitoes were absolutely fierce. Although none are pictured here, there were considerable numbers of Asian tiger mosquitoes in with the swarms of more familiar species. They are huge and very aggressive. It's like being attacked by a swarm of B25s. The tent where we were doing our identification was full of mosquitoes.

Saturday, I had to leave the BioBlitz to go further into Lake County for a butterfly course that I was teaching at Illinois Beach Stae Park. For some reason, even though the weather was nice there were very few butterflies out. We did manage to get the course in before being chased off site by a severe thunderstorm. I was actually relieved at the storm's arrival. I had a great class- the students were really good- and I was running out of things to say to them. We were looking at other insects (due mostly to the lack of butterflies) and I did get to see a speecies of tiger beetle (Cicindela formosa) that I've only seen once before, and never in Illinois. I got a decent photo.

Cicindela formosa

Sunday was butterfly monitoring at the Fen. While I was there, I tried unsuccessfully for a nice photo of Typocerus sp., an interesting longhorn beetle that has become more abundant on site as our prairies have improved. I had no luck at all with that, and was unable to get my complete monitoring route done before a fast-moving thunderstorm moved in and soaked me to the skin. At least I got a nice picture of the hill prairie in full bloom.

Hill prairie at the height of flowering

The less said about my work week the better. On Thursday, we went out to Grundy County seeking the leadplant flower moth (Schinia lucens). This is a very rare species that we want to do restoration work on. The host plant, leadplant, is an attractive shrub with purple flowers. It's been a very successful component of many prairie restorations, so there are many places the moth could possibly go.

Vincent and Brad in Schinia lucens habitat

Leadplant (Amorpha canescens)

We did not get any moths. I did manage to get a nice photo of milkweed longhorn beetles. I also got the worst case of chiggers I've ever had in my entire life. I'll spare you a photo of my thoroughly bitten legs.

Milkweed Longhorn Beetles (Tetraopes tetropthalmus)

I've spent the week being bitten, wet, and frustrated. I'm now off to the Fen for more butterfly monitoring. Let's see what further disasters can befall me.

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At 13:17, Blogger Lemuel said...

Oh, I hope you fare better this week! - and that the chigger bites do not come with "added bonuses"!

At 16:21, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hill prairie is such a beautiful picture!!! I love the purple coneflower in the field.
The mosquito fiasco sounds horrible! I would hate to have to face them.PS I love your label....whining. LOL!

At 21:01, Blogger Ur-spo said...

the latest 'keep away the mosquitoes' notion is carrying a 'Bounce' dryer sheet with you on your person.
i have heard 3 people swear it works.

At 10:22, Blogger Texas Travelers said...

Great Tiger Beetle shot.

I liked the Prairie photos.

The mosquitoes looked like parts of Alaska. Some of the alpine lakes in Colorado have fantastic numbers of Midges.

I really liked the photo of the Milkweed Longhorn Beetles. I had not seen that before. Thanks for sharing.

Be careful on the Fen. Danger lurks around every corner. (grin)

A bad day on the Fen is better than a great day at the office (not my quote, but one that I ascribe to).

A little dab of clear fingernail polish on the chigger bite works wonders.


At 16:35, Blogger cedrorum said...

You are starting to sound like me and my love/hate relationship with a particular Carolina Bay. Your photos are superb, you are improving as a photographer. The tiger beetle and longhorn beetles are particularly good. I think I've been attacked by those same B-25 mosquitoes. Do they have black and white striped legs? Whatever they were for me they were absolutely huge.

At 08:18, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't decide if chiggers or poison ivy is/are worse. After having suffered through both, it's a toss-up. Poison ivy never seems to go away, but chiggers itch worse, plus, you know - it's a bug underneath your skin. Ewwww.

This year, in particular this month, has been AWFUL for mosquitoes. I even get mobbed in the mornings while I am taking care of my chickens. Pity those poor birds who sleep in a mosquito filled coop all night. I feel terribly for them, and am already anxious for the weather to cool down and dry off a little. In other words, I'd like to travel forward in time, please.

The FL aquifer and local swamps (Corkscrew and the Everglades)really need all this rain we've been getting, though. It's a drenching storm every day over my property...

Sorry you have not met with your usual level of success recently Doug, but if this weblog is any indication, your track record is SO GOOD that you were bound to hit a bump eventually. Look back at that track record, and you'll see that this recent time is just an anomaly in what is otherwise a pretty amazing string of successes.

Unless, of course, you're keeping your failures secret from us! You wouldn't do that, oh no no NO!

At 13:09, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Lem- The chigger bites are fading, and I seem none the worse for the wear. This week is going much better.

Chris- This hill prairie is not terribly far from you. You should do a painting some time.

Spo- I'll definitely give it a try.

troy- Thanks. I'm surprised that the milkweed longhorn beetles are a novelty for you. They're very common up here, and I would have expected them down by you, as well.

cerdorum- Thanks. The comments of the photos are especially appreciated. Yes, the Asian tiger mosquitoes have black and white banded legs.


>Unless, of course, you're keeping your failures secret from us! You wouldn't do that, oh no no NO!

Have you noticed how little I have said about swamp metalmarks lately? Sigh.

At 14:16, Blogger rodger said...

You are an insect aphrodisiac! Everywhere you go, the bugs want to get all pornographic for your camera.

Love the shots though...the milkweed beetles are gorgeous.

At 21:44, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Rodger- Thanks. I think.


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