2019 Bioblitz

by Carl A. Strang

Each year the Indiana Academy of Science co-hosts a bioblitz somewhere in that state. This year’s site was The Center at Donaldson, which includes a retreat center and Ancilla College, plus surrounding properties. I always take the singing insects in this annual 24-hour count of species, but no one came to cover Lepidoptera or Odonata in 2019, so I appended them to my commitment. That is just as well, because these events are scheduled early enough in the season that few singing insects have reached the adult stage.

Some Roesel’s katydids matured in time for the bioblitz.

Two of the five singing insect species I found were common early species that were nearly finished, two were common mid-season species recently coming into song, and one of them provided an observation of significance. The eastern striped cricket is thinly scattered in northwest Indiana, possibly expanding into that region from the south or west. A single male singing in the evening provided a Marshall County record, a full county’s width farther east than I have observed them before.

I enjoyed re-acquainting myself with the beauty of dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and moths, and photographed many of them.

The widow skimmer was the most abundant dragonfly.

Most of the eastern or common pondhawks still were green. Males will change to blue over time.

The Halloween pennant pleases the eye.

There weren’t many damselflies. Here, a blue-fronted dancer.

Newly emerged eastern forktail females are orange.

A few monarchs graced the grounds.

There were many great spangled fritillaries, plus this meadow fritillary.

I encountered a few moths during the day, but most came to my ultraviolet light setup in the forest, or the Purdue team’s assorted bright lights in the open. Moths are underappreciated for their beauty, diversity, and ecological significance.

Large lace-border, Scopula limboundata

Reversed haploa, Haploa reversa

Painted lichen moth, Hypoprepia fucosa

Delicate cycnia, Cycnia tenera

Isabella tiger moth, Pyrrharctia Isabella

Imperial moth, Eacles imperialis

Hermit sphinx, Lintneria eremitus

Snowy-shouldered acleris, Acleris nivisellana

Oblique-banded leafroller, Choristoneura rosaceana

Grape leaffolder, Desmia funeralis

Grape plume moth, Geina periscelidactylus

Large maple spanworm, Prochoerodes lineola

Lesser maple spanworm, Macaria pustularia

Small engrailed, Ectropis crepuscularia

Ovate dagger, Acronicta ovata

Pink-barred pseudostrotia, Pseudostrotia carneola

The Hebrew, Polygrammate hebraeicum

The brother, Raphia frater

Along the way I encountered a few other species to add to the species count.

Narrow-winged grasshoppers were common on the bioblitz base camp’s sandy hill.

A Pennsylvania wood cockroach came to the UV light.

The light also drew this striking summer fishfly.

 

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Tortricids

by Carl Strang

Last winter over an intermittent series of posts I summarized some of my research on leaf-eating insects in DuPage County forests. Most of that work was in the 1980’s, but I have continued a couple of studies to the present day. One of those is following leaf miners of sugar/black maple leaves . In my study forests I found that the maples host a long list of leaf consumers. Each year the parade of them begins with the tortricids. Here is the adult stage of one of those moths, Choristoneura rosaceana.

Tortricid adult b

The wingspan of this mounted specimen is three-quarters of an inch. Its small larva looks like this:

Tortricid caterpillar b

The caterpillar bites through the major veins of the maple leaf at the base, so that the leaf wilts.

Tortricid collapsed leaf b

This presumably cuts off the leaf’s ability to produce defensive chemicals, and also provides a shelter that protects the caterpillar from birds, which focus on more easily gleaned prey. When the caterpillars become abundant, their numbers get knocked back by parasitic wasps. I found that the wasps’ eggs are readily visible in the parasitized caterpillar.

Tortricid parasitized b

This year I decided to go back to my study areas and see what the tortricids are up to. The bottom line answer is, not much. There were a few, but in my random samples of 20 maple saplings per preserve I found only one tortricid caterpillar, at Maple Grove. There were none at Meacham Grove, though I did see a few on saplings outside the sample. This compares to the peak year of 1982, when 63 percent of maple saplings at Maple Grove and 88 percent at Meacham Grove hosted at least one tortricid caterpillar. I plan to continue taking this measurement in coming years.

Incidentally, while sampling Meacham Grove I checked out the trailing strawberry bush (Euonymus obovatus) plants to see if they have ermine moth caterpillars this year (I reviewed this study last winter). The plants all were clean and green.

EUOB 7JE09b

At one point I looked down and saw this.

Campaea perlata 1

Sticking out beyond the edges of the enchanter’s nightshade leaf were moth wingtips. I tried holding the camera underneath and taking a photo without looking through the viewfinder.

Campaea perlata 2b

The pair of moths apparently had mated the previous night and were waiting out the day. Having acquired my contingency photo, I carefully inverted the leaf. The male moth took off, but I was able to get a clearer shot of this beautiful pale green, leaf-mimicking Campaea perlata female.

Campaea perlata 3b

On the way out of Meacham Grove I got the opportunity to photograph this mourning cloak caterpillar.

Mourning cloak caterpillar b

All in all, this was an enjoyable return.

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