Early Moths and Tornadoes

Yesterday evening, following a day of warm temperatures, the warmest day so far in 2017, a line of thunderstorms swept across the state. In some places the storms also brought the first hail and the first tornadoes. The tornado that touched down near Anna Lake, west of Zimmerman and near several natural areas I visit most summers, was, according to the news, the earliest tornado on record for Minnesota by about two weeks. I later learned that this same tornado, touching down a few miles further north, vacuumed the ice off a section of Little Elk Lake.

After the thunderstorms pushed through Northfield (thankfully no tornadoes here), I collected the first Spring Cankerworm Moth which had landed by the front door light. Always one of the first moths of the year, this is the earliest date I've recorded. Last year the first was observed one day later, on March 8th. In 2015, the first observation was on March 16th. And the year before that, when I was obviously less vigilant, the date I first saw the moth was April 12th (probably not an accurate early date). Only the males of this species have wings. The females are flightless and kind of look like midget walruses.

In the afternoon, I attended a volunteer appreciation meeting for the Wasp Watchers Program, a biosurveillance program for the detection of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. While not an official volunteer to the program, I had submitted an observation after finding a Cerceris fummipennis nest in Northfield which was enough to make the invitation list since it's the wasp being watched. The meeting was held at Hodson Hall on the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus. To start things off, three entomology graduate students shared their 'outreach arthropods' with us—Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, Death-feigning Beetles, Darkling Beetles and larvae, giant millipedes, and a Rose Tarantula, providing lively accompaniment to cookies and coffee. Jennifer Schultz, director of the Wasp Watchers program, led the meeting, summarizing the previous year's results.

After Jennifer's presentation, we visited the U of MN insect collection and met the curator, Robin Thomson. This is a large collection, rows and rows of metal cabinets, nearly floor to ceiling. Each metal cabinet contained many wooden drawers filled with pinned insects. How satisfying to finally visit this collection. Many friends and odonatologists had spent time working here and I had missed several chances to help them. The wonder of looking at the insects in the collection intertwined with nostalgia for those long-ago student days when I spent many many hours in the nearby Entomology Library, around thirty years ago now..

From the U of MN, I drove south to give a slide presentation on wasps and bees and dragonflies to the Red Wing Master Gardeners. Curiously, many of the people were up-in-arms, out-of-sorts, and bent-out-of-shape about the recent discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer in a tree on Barn Bluff. Several people complained about the stupidity and irresponsibility of local residents who must have broken the firewood quarantine and introduced the beetle locally. Of course this was a possibility, but they seemed to forget that these beetles can fly and might have arrived there on their own.

Publicado por scottking scottking, 07 de março de 2017, 03:46 PM


Fotos / Sons




Março 7, 2017 09:01 AM CST


Spring Cankerworm Moth, male
Northfield, Minnesota


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