by Carl Strang
Yesterday was, of course, Groundhog Day. During my lunch break I walked to a hole in the ground that looked like a possible winter den entrance for a woodchuck. I did not expect to find signs of emergence by a groundhog, for reasons I will explain at a later date, but yesterday it seemed the thing to do. Tomorrow I will get into what I did find at that den entrance, and at a similar one not far from it.
For now, some other quiescent overwintering critters I observed along the way. First, I noticed a couple praying mantis egg masses.
The praying mantises in our area belong to the introduced Asiatic species Tenodera aridifolia sinensis, but I think they are cool and until I hear reason to believe they are harmful in our local ecosystems I will continue to hold that opinion.
I also noticed that all three of the common galls of goldenrod stems are present in Mayslake Forest Preserve’s prairies and meadows. There is the distinctive and common goldenrod ball gall, which is produced by the gall-fly Eurosta solidaginis.
Then there is the abundant goldenrod bunch gall, stimulated by the larva of the midge Rhopalomyia solidaginis.
Finally there are a few representatives of the much less common elliptical goldenrod gall.
This one is the product of an interaction between the goldenrod and a moth larva, Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis. If you compared the scientific names of these three insects you noticed that they all contain the word solidaginis. Solidago is the genus name for the goldenrods.