Insects of all kinds abound in the Preserve, living on and off the plants, or eating other insects and trying to avoid being eaten. Because they are small, insects are easy to overlook, but if you observe a plant for a few minutes, you are bound to see them. Some, like spiders, stay motionless for long periods, on the ready for prey caught in their webs, others are squirming in masses on lush leaves, like tiger moths larvae, to confuse and ensure that some of them will survive, even though many might be eaten. Then there are those who are camouflaged and stay motionless for periods, like grasshoppers, avoiding their predators when at rest. Others present a constantly moving target, like monarchs, hardly ever resting. Still others, like the soldier beetle or milkweed bugs, are pretty sure they aren't very tasty or healthy for anyone and hop around freely. Still others are too fast, like dragonflies, or have other defenses that deter predators.
Olympia Mathiaparanam and Mark Nofsinger, members of the Friends, have captured many of them on their cameras and uploaded the photos to iNaturalist. This easy-to-use apps automatically provides a first identification, and in turn, experts help narrow down the identification until everyone agrees. Viewing this brief collection of images from their summer outings in the Preserve, we can appreciate the immense diversity of life on a few acres of natural lands. Get involved and add to the collection! (Assembled by Gisela)
Flood waters flooding Lake Mendota
'sRecord rainfalls of 10 inches and more during the night of August 20 in the Madison area not only brought devastation and hardship to properties and people, but also impacted Madison's lakes where all the flood waters eventually converged. Arlene Koziol's has photographed some of the evidence—sediments from erosion of surrounding land now streaking sections of Lake Mendota with a brownish tint and damage to and submergence of countless piers along the shore. No wake boating is in effect and all beaches are closed until the lake level has a chance to recede to more normal levels. Currently, the lake level is .5 feet or 6 inches short of the 100-year record high of 852.8 feet above sea level.
Lunchtime for Sandhill Cranes
"Probably this is the same family that has been around the Community Gardens much of the summer," writes Mike Bailey, "Only one juvenile has survived, but it looks healthy. Now and then as they worked their way through the gardens, one or the other adult would feed the juvenile some tidbit, though the juvenile was doing most of its own foraging. The last two show one of the adults offering the juvenile a worm that it had plucked out of a compost pile."
I can see an expression of parental pride in the adult as the juvenile is positioning the big worms in his beak.
Tree Frogs — favorite friends
Olympia Mathiaparanam spends many days in the Biocore Prairie and the Preserve this summer. Tree frogs are one of her favorites. She captured the two shown here on iPhone and published them on iNaturalist, the nature apps that also helps you identify what you see in Preserve. These small little fellows are hard to detect, as you can imagine from the pictures. Below: the Holarctic Tree frog hardly covers the bottom of the narrow lance-like leaf pair. The brownish stripe along its side also helps camouflage it. Above: the tiny Gray Tree frog is but a little speck on the huge Prairie dock leaf that he sits on in the Biocore Prairie.
The Gray tree frog's Latin name is a Hyla versicolor, which means that it can change its color in chameleon like fashion from gray to green, depending on the substrate, and with mottling from black to nearly white.
Holarctic Tree frogs also belongs to the genus Hyla. The genus, established in 1768, was named after Hylas in Greek mythology, who was the companion of Hercules. Some strong little creature, this tree frog!
And in case you wanted to know this, if you should plan a trip to Costa Rica, you might want to look for the Gladiator tree frog, all of 1/2 inch body length and with enormous eyes (comparatively) sticking our from its head.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors