Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Creepy Crawlies of Devil's Lake

During five days spent at Devil's Lake and the surrounding areas, I encountered many fascinating arthropods. Happily for the reader, many of them moved way too quickly for me to capture with my camera, so you are spared the details of clubtails and saddlebags and bluets and many varieties of odonata. With lepidoptera, my camera and I did a little bit better. The swallowtails pictured above must have found some sort of desirable mineral deposits, because they clustered at the water's edge, and allowed me to get close enough to see the wing scales that give their order their name. Eventually, our proximity did alarm them, and a cloud of yellow butterflies fluttered in every direction around us, which nearly made me laugh out loud...
I also captured on film this pearl crescent and, from very far away, this luna moth.
Despite much trying, I was unable to get a picture of a black butterfly, 2-3 inches, with blue in its lower wings, possibly an admiral? We also found a fat-bodied, pink-winged cecropia moth, hanging out under the lights of the campsite bathroom (silly me, I didn't think to bring my camera to the toilet at night. Now I know.) (And of course, we saw a number of sulphurs and skippers and plain moths that didn't get their picture taken.)

By far the most common insect we saw were the larval form... caterpillars were everywhere. Smooshed on the trails because you couldn't avoid them, hitchhiking rides on our shirts because we accidentally walked into them as they hung from silken strands, and slowly munching their way through leaves galore. The tent caterpillars (eastern and forest, respectively) were the most common.
But we did see a lot of these, which I will call inchworms because that's what we called them as kids. I guess it's really a geometer. Whatever. That sounds like a tool for measuring shapes, or something. Inchworm sounds like a charming song, like childhood. Inchworm, inchworm, measuring the marigolds, seems to me you'd stop and see how beautiful they are...
This delicious-looking (think like a bird, dear readers... it's chubby and not at all hairy... yum...) specimen remains unidentified. It was removed from its host plant by a child who was carrying it in her pocket and proudly showing it off to hikers traveling in the other direction, which means my hopes of ID are pretty much shot.

One last larva -- a saw fly chewing up Solomon's seal.

Some other notable insects...
to the left is a fat fuzzy bumble bee snacking on a legume of some sort. To the right is a beetle, which I have absolutely no hope of identifying, but which I initially passed, thinking, "There's a bee on the trail," and then, "wait a minute, that's not a bee..."

This spider was HUGE. Chris described it as the size of a saucer. That may be a slight exaggeration. But only slight.

A centipede crawls around on the wet rocks.

And there ends the bug tour of Sauk County. I should have taken a picture of the deer tick that was on me. It was the smallest darn thing, very creepy.

Up next: Plants.

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