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DISCOVERING INSECTS AT WOLF ROAD PRAIRIE



Insects are very active during the hot days of late July and this year was no exception. With temperatures soaring to the humid mid-90's, trekkers who came out to Wolf Road Prairie for Dr. Wagner's "Discover the Fascinating World of Insects" walk were not disappointed.

Insects play a major role in human welfare as plant pollinators, disease vectors and rivals for stored foods. In terms of biomass, insects far outweigh the more familiar vertebrates and contribute greatly to ecosystem stability.

"Wolf Road Prairie remains a refugium for hundreds of insect species extrapated from developed landscapes," said Dr. Wagner, Associate in Zoology at The Field Museum. Knowing how to find them, the season, the weather and luck were on our side.



Monarch butterflies could be seen everywhere feasting on the nectar of summer flowering prairie plants. Dr. Wagner pointed out interesting species found along the way. One of the highlights of the walk was the sighting of a rare red male Half-banded Toper dragonfly (Sympetrum semicinctum). The females are green.



Dr. Wagner brought along his prized beetle collection which he shared with the group at the end of the walk. He explained his collection methods and how much time is involved in finding, preparing and cataloging insects of our region for scientific study and permanent species exhibits.

Dragonfly Photo: 2011 Richard E. Witkiewicz, Landscape and Nature Photography
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