by Carl Strang



photo by Marcy Rogge

photo by Marcy Rogge


In this blog I will focus on natural history investigations in northeastern Illinois (especially DuPage County) and the surrounding region. My greatest attention will be given to insects (especially singing insects, damselflies and dragonflies), birds, mammals and geology. By “investigations” I mean a broad range of studies, from general or anecdotal observations to more focused scientific studies. The purpose is not only to share information but also to encourage others to go from general nature appreciation to more focused attention with a scientific approach. In particular I hope that this will encourage children and teachers to learn about science from the inside by conducting their own inquiries in the outdoors. I will make occasional reference to the scientific literature and to technical points and theory, but I intend to do so in a manner readily digestible (and, I hope, enjoyable) for those who lack a formal background but have an interest in natural history.


Though I work as a naturalist for a county park system, this is a personal blog and does not in any way represent my employer. Inevitably, however, much of what I report will be observations within the properties of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. I also may use this space from time to time to promote opportunities related to its subject matter within the District.


My background is a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology, in which the thesis work was a study of glaucous gulls in western Alaska in the early 1970’s. After a 5-year stint of college teaching during which I studied wood and eastern box turtles, I retread myself as an interpretive naturalist. Though I no longer need to publish (and don’t have funds to pay journals’ page fees!), my interest in doing science remains. Since moving to Illinois I have been studying leaf eating insects in the forest understory (especially leaf miners of sugar/black maples, and interactions between an ermine moth and a trailing woody plant), and more recently singing insects (general survey work has not been done in Illinois since the 1930’s; also I did a focused study of periodical cicadas during their 2007 emergence). I have been a dragonfly monitor since the inception of that program in the Chicago Wilderness consortium. Smaller studies have indulged my curiosity about the social structure and movement patterns of whitetail deer; the route followed by the local lobe of the most recent continental glacier; and I soon will attempt an inventory of Canada goose winter flock roosting and foraging geography within the county. In addition I make broader observations that allow me to follow the natural history of the properties where I spend the most time (my home neighborhood, and the preserve where my office is located). This is science in the old fashioned sense of satisfying general curiosity, which academics no longer have the luxury of indulging. Their pressure to focus on narrow theoretical or applied subjects has its costs, and I hope that this blog will compensate in a small way.

 If you wish to contact me outside the blog, you may use the e-mail address Wildlifer@aol.com


  1. steve said,

    December 11, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    very nice, i quite enjoyed my quick review of your cite. i am always amazed at what you are up to, and appreciate what you do.

  2. steven krichbaum said,

    June 14, 2009 at 10:33 am

    hi Mr. Strang – wonderful web site and wonderful work you are doing – imagine, a naturalist!! – regrettably a rarity in this day – of all the research i have read, your paper on Wood/Box Turtle ecology is one of my very favorites – i study and work to conserve Wood Turtles in Virginia and West Virginia – would it be possible for us to talk on the telephone about turtle natural history? – if so, please send me contact info – my number is xxx-xxx-xxxx thank you – steven krichbaum

    • natureinquiries said,

      June 15, 2009 at 5:53 am

      Thanks, Steven,
      I’ll contact you by separate e-mail. I very much enjoyed sticking my toe into herp ecology during those few years in Pennsylvania. Sadly, there are no wood or box turtles where I am now, though we do have one semi-terrestrial species, Blanding’s turtle. It has become rare, and my organization has a significant rearing-and-release program going, but I am not involved in it. I’ll feature it in the blog some time.

  3. Jim Effinger said,

    July 11, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    I finally got around to “Metamorphoses” Carl Strang’s 2008 Gift CD. I really enjoyed it. The music was great and the Kafka story, “Metamorphoses” was inspiring. I had no idea the wonderful talent you possess. The next time we are together I need to learn more about your skills. I also enjoy your blog, you are a man of many talents. Thank you for the CD, I will play it often.

    Jim Effinger

  4. coleen zebeluk said,

    July 31, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Hello Carl,

    I’ve only just discovered your site and will explore it at length when time permits! At first glance it looks impressive! Your website is quite diverse and informative.
    My partner and I are living in southern Manitoba on a five acre rural site. We have embarked on an ambitious project; planting the site with native vegetation (grasses, forbs, sedge and shrubs) In doing so we seem to be attracting various birds and insects some of which we have been able to identify, some not. We have a website documenting our project http://www.silverplains.ca/ We have pages for birds and insects which you may find interesting.

  5. sam droege said,

    August 31, 2009 at 9:12 am


    Thought you might be interested in this:


    Also I can’t seem to figure out how to subscribe to your blog so I can be alerted to when you do a new post.



  6. Alan Resetar said,

    October 24, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Hi Carl:

    I just ran across your website while searching Marshall County Indiana salamanders. Do you recall ever finding slimy salamanders, smallmouth salamanders, two-lined salamanders, pickerel frogs or cricket frogs during your childhood in the Culver area or any trips back there?

    Great website!!!!



    • natureinquiries said,

      October 25, 2009 at 6:20 am

      Hi, Alan,
      I don’t have recent observations of any of those species. As a child (1950’s-60’s) I remember slimy salamanders in the Academy’s Bird Sanctuary associated with the little stream that runs through it. Cricket frogs were abundant both at the Fish Hatchery west of Culver and in places along the Lake Maxinkuckee shore. I don’t have memories of the other species. Slimy salamanders could well still be where they were, and cricket frogs may survive at the Fish Hatchery, but unless there are some in the state wetlands at the south end of Maxinkuckee, cricket frogs were doomed by the sea wall fad that made the lake a bathtub some years ago.

  7. Pearl said,

    January 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Mr. Strang,
    I really enjoy your blog on gardening! Are the photos and information open to reuse/reproduction with correct citation?

    • natureinquiries said,

      January 5, 2010 at 7:07 am

      Hi, Pearl,

      Sure. I suppose a use on the Internet might include a link to the blog in the description. Outside the Internet, at least my name and a mention of the blog as your source would be appropriate. I would appreciate being informed of any such uses. One of these days I will get around to putting my e-mail address on the blog for such purposes: Wildlifer@aol.com

      Thanks for the interest.

  8. Angela Furlong said,

    May 6, 2010 at 5:09 am

    Very informative blog. Excellent reading!

  9. Stacey said,

    September 17, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Love, love, love your blog and I’m so glad I found it. Keep up the awesome and inspiring work!

  10. Jeanette Hirt said,

    January 18, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Carl, I just discovered your blogsite through a post on Facebook you made recently. I spent the last 30 minutes reading several of your posts. I can’t wait to read more! As a lover of all nature, I am fascinated by your knowledge, insights, and descriptions of what you see. It’s like being on a nature walk with you (which I know from experience is a real treat). Thank you so much for your dedication to sharing with others. Please know it is much appreciated!!! It’s an honor to call you my friend. Blessings, Jeanette

    • natureinquiries said,

      January 19, 2011 at 6:54 am

      Wow, thanks, Jeannette! In return let me say that you model an attitude of positive Spirit to which I aspire. I have learned much from you.

  11. Leslie Cummings said,

    March 5, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Love this! Thanks Carl!

  12. Keila Spargo said,

    March 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Nice writing!, very informative. Just the exact idea I’ve been looking. Don’t stop posting stuff like this, Looking forward for more of your new posts! Thanks.

  13. April 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Great writing!, very interesting. Just the right information I’ve been searching. Don’t stop making stuff like this, expexting for more of your new posts! Thanks.

  14. maryknapper said,

    April 9, 2011 at 3:37 am

    You have a wonderfully informative blogsite that I look forward to coming back to. Thank you for being here.

  15. Emma said,

    April 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Dear Carl

    Your blog is wonderful and I found it while hunting the net for a picture of an aquatic segmented worm. We (Natura Education) are an environmental education organisation in Australia responsible for teaching children about water quality. We are in the process of improving the quality of our aquatic macro-invertebrate identification charts. To do this, I have been sourcing quality images to use for these charts. We would be very grateful if we could please have permission to use your image of the aquatic segmented worm found at this location: https://natureinquiries.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/

    We will be submitting a draft version of our identification chart to our local council with a view to receiving a grant from them to enable us to produce the final item. We hope you will be able to permit us to use your image and we look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.

    Kindest regards from fellow stream samplers in Australia

    Emma Tait

    • natureinquiries said,

      April 29, 2011 at 5:51 am

      Hi, Emma,
      Sure, you are welcome to use the photo. Technically, if you include the leech, there were 3 different species of annelids represented, so if you need a higher-resolution version of the image you should send me an e-mail (address in the “about” page accessed in the left margin) specifying which one. Best wishes for your good work.

  16. Michele Torres said,

    May 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Mr. Strang, We live in Westmont, near Mayslake, and have a wild life, wetlands area behind our house. I have seen a raccoon walking around our pond in the morning and have seen tracks on our lower patio in the snow. Last night I thought I saw something walk by my deck door while I was sitting on my couch three feet away with the lights on! I looked outside, but didn’t see anything. I remembered it this evening and walked on the deck (which is on the second floor of our house) and saw scat on the deck! It looked like dog scat, but we don’t have a dog. I looked up raccoon scat on the internet and think that is probably what it is. Then I saw how dangerous it can be, so I went out with a baggie and picked it up. I washed my hands and poured boiling water over the area. How can a deter the animal from returning? Why would a raccoon come up to a second floor deck that is supported by 4x4s, when I am in clear view and have lights on? This hasn’t happened as far as I know in the 8 years we have lived here. Also, I haven’t noticed footprints on the deck in the snow. We haven’t even had a meal on the deck yet this year, so I don’t think there was food on it. We did plant 3 cucumber seads in a container garden on the deck, but that was 4 days ago, and there aren’t even any sprouts!


    • natureinquiries said,

      May 16, 2011 at 6:03 am

      Hi, Michelle,
      If you were sitting quietly the raccoon might not have been aware of you. Keep in mind that from a wild animal’s perspective, a house is just a big hollow tree. Animals are accustomed to the notion of big hollow trees being occupied by a number of species. Raccoons don’t cover every square foot of their home range every day, but they want to keep tabs on as much of it as possible, including climbing the various trees at different times. Your thinking is correct in going over and eliminating possible attractive features. If your roof is strong, the raccoon won’t consider your home a candidate for a den by making a hole in the roof. If no food is left out there, the raccoon won’t include you in its regular foraging routine. You acted correctly in removing the feces. Raccoons are known to establish communal toilets, and this needs to be discouraged. In addition to the careful removal of the material (yes, there can be dangerous roundworm eggs and you don’t want to touch them), an application of ammonia is recommended to remove any trace odor that would give the raccoon a scent that might encourage its return. By acting immediately you should be successful in getting them to select another location.

  17. John Ficek said,

    June 27, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    wheres your rss feed? probably concealed within plain sight knowing me hehe.

    • natureinquiries said,

      June 29, 2011 at 6:01 am

      Scroll down the left margin.

  18. Barb Glassel said,

    August 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your observations and insight.

  19. sam droege said,

    August 29, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Hi Carl….

    Want to get these via email….keep up the good work.


  20. Jean said,

    October 12, 2011 at 1:32 am

    Hi Carl,

    Just discovered your site.. it’s great. Have you by any chance done a book on all of this? I’m particularly interested in the Fullersburg Archaeology information. I grew up on Spring Road down the street from the Mill and Fullersburg. I like collecting information about that area. Have you done any research on the Native American history of that area?

    Thanks, Jean

    • natureinquiries said,

      October 12, 2011 at 5:56 am

      Thanks, Jean,
      I don’t have anything specific for the Fullersburg area, and am not qualified to conduct an archeological dig. Spear points have been found at Fullersburg, as in many spots across the county, but apart from the general sequence of cultures from the time of the last glacier on I haven’t gotten into the literature on this.

  21. Sara W said,

    January 4, 2012 at 4:43 pm


    I am originally from DuPage County and did a brief stint working for the DCFPD when I first graduated from college. Since then I’ve spent a lot of time in Northern MN and MI (I’m a forester), and while looking for oak savanna restoration photos for a private landowner I stumbled across your website. What a treasure trove, and so many old familiar places! Do you allow others to borrow your imagery? If so, how would you like to be noted in a document?

    • natureinquiries said,

      January 5, 2012 at 6:56 am

      Hi, Sara,
      Photos on the site are highly compressed. Usually I have no trouble letting people use them. Just let me know which picture, what the planned use is, and I can send the full sized photo along. A reference to my name and the blog as sources should cover it.

  22. Andrew Levinsky said,

    January 10, 2012 at 11:57 am

    This is a wonderful blog. I’m including Mayslake in my birding walks now, maybe we’ll run into eachother one day. Last time i went there was easily 40-50 juncos. And some type of large hawk i was unable to identify. Looks like a great spot, i bet even more so in the spring and summer.


  23. March 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Carl,

    Very nice and informative blog.


  24. Alan Falzon said,

    October 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I like this blog so much, saved to favorites. “Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is still the mark of an educated man.” by Norman Cousins.

  25. kevin buck said,

    January 1, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Hello. I was on the shore of southern georgian bay in the meaford area following a set of tracks in the snow. i came across a mouse that was exposed to the elements and trying to burrough a tunnel through the snow. all of a sudden a white, 5 inch long mink/fisher/weaseol came out of the snow and stood on its hind legs. how common are these creatures?

    • natureinquiries said,

      January 2, 2013 at 6:52 am

      Hi, Kevin,
      Up there, least weasels are probably reasonably common, but it is not a common experience to see one. They are small enough to have little trouble staying out of sight. Congratulations on a rare experience!

  26. Marie said,

    September 18, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Hi, I’ve been following your blog for quite some time I was wondering if you could comment on the insect that is on another blog I follow: http://stevecreek.com/katydid-with-parasite/ Thank you! Marie

  27. petrel41 said,

    September 27, 2013 at 3:01 am

    Congratulations, Carl!

    I have nominated your blog for the Awesome Blog Content Award.

    More about this nomination is at


  28. Tyler said,

    November 22, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Hi, my name is Tyler. I have been reading your posts here for almost 3 years now. I have always been fascinated by nature and by insects especially. I recently started a forum for insects and entomology. It is about 4ish weeks old, and I was wondering if you would be interested in kind of a way connecting our sites? My site is kind of small yet but they will both grow getting you more readers and me more members. I am not sure how we would do it quite yet, but if you are interested, let me know. 🙂


  29. January 18, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    How can I follow your great blog? I checked the new post notification box, hope that will do it. I blog too, at oneforestfragment.com and am the lead forest restoration steward at Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve in Louisville, KY.

    • natureinquiries said,

      January 19, 2020 at 5:14 am

      I got confirmation that you will get notifications. Thank you for your interest.

  30. Katherine Schlosser said,

    April 1, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Love the diversity of your posts! I have written a short column for our local newspaper for the past 16 years, covering native flora and fauna and land & plant conservation. Recently, I have been studying hickories and saw your Dec. 2013 post. I wonder if I might use the photo you have, which is lovely. I would of course include your name as the owner and mention your site. I am not paid for my work, it is just a passion, and as the newspaper has gotten smaller and smaller, I wouldn’t dream of asking them for anything anyway. I fear newspapers may not be around much longer.
    Thanks for all your work.

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