With over 15,000 described species, the family Tipulidae (crane flies) is one of the largest families of true flies (Diptera). More than 1,600 species occur in North America. The subfamily Tipulinae (large crane flies) contains the largest of the crane flies. In North America, the vast majority of species are in the genera Tipula and Nephrotoma. The genus Nephrotoma (tiger crane flies) contains about 150 described species. The most common of these is ferruginous tiger crane fly (Nephrotoma ferruginea).
“Ferruginous” means reddish-brown or rust colored, but ferruginous tiger crane fly is more often described as orange in color. It is distinguished from other crane flies by the body color, the antennae that are entirely black except for the first two segments, and by a black spot at each end of a groove across the thorax.
Wasp mantidfly (Climaciella brunnea) is a large wasp mimic. It occurs across the United States, in adjacent Canadian provinces, and in Mexico and Central America. It is widespread but considered scarce.
With its mantid-like front legs wasp mantidfly looks similar to a praying mantis but it is not even closely related. This is an example of convergent evolution, where unrelated organisms, adapting to similar environments, independently evolve similar characteristics. It also looks similar to a paper wasp. This is an example of Batesian mimicry, making it look like another species that is unpalatable or dangerous to potential predators.
Adults emerge in late May through October. Males live less than a week, females up to a month. They can be found on flowers where they wait on and ambush small insects. During her time the female lays up to several thousand eggs. The small white eggs have short stalks and are attached to the underside of plant leaves. After an egg hatches the larva waits for and then attaches itself to a passing wolf spider. When the female wolf spider begins making an egg sac, the mantid larva crawls off the spider and onto the sac. It then gets wrapped up as the egg sac is completed and feeds on the spider eggs inside.
Midwestern salmonfly (Pteronarcys pictetii) is a large, dark brown, giant stonefly. It is common in the Midwest from Minnesota and Wisconsin south to Kansas and Indiana. Adults are 1½″ to 2½″ long. The head narrows slightly in the rear and has a thin, bright orange, rear margin. The plate covering the thorax is highly sculptured and has a thin, bright orange stripe in the middle and three bright orange spots at the base. The legs are robust. The wings have many prominent veins.
Young (naiads) live in well aerated water of small and medium-sized streams. They eat particulate plant matter in the water and move very slowly. When disturbed they will pretend to be dead. They take 2 to 3 years to develop. Adults emerge from April to June and live for only 2 to 3 weeks. They are poor fliers and when disturbed they will run rather than fly away. They are sometimes found far from water. They are active at night (nocturnal) and are attracted to lights.
Franklin’s ground squirrel (Poliocitellus franklinii) is a medium-sized squirrel but a large ground squirrel. It is the largest and darkest ground squirrel in its range. It occurs in the tallgrass prairie region in the United States and Canada. It is considered scarce in Minnesota. It is found in areas with tall vegetation including edges of fields and prairies, open woodlands, and edges of marshes.
Franklin’s ground squirrel is superficially similar in appearance to an eastern gray squirrel but it is smaller and has a shorter, less bushy tail, shorter ears, and a more pointed snout. The coat (pelage) is short and dark gray with pale and dark flecks and a brown wash over the back and rump.
Franklin’s ground squirrel spends most of its time in an underground burrow that can be up to 8 feet deep. It is tolerant of humans and can be seen at camp sights, in state parks, and at dumps. It is omnivorous, feeding on plants, ground nesting bird eggs, insects, and small animals, including other ground squirrels.
Cream pea (Lathyrus ochroleucus) is a low vine that is common in Minnesota except for the southwest quarter of the state. It is found in open woodlands, woodland openings, trailsides, riverbanks, and thickets.
The leaves of cream pea are divided into 3 to 5 widely-spaced pairs of large leaflets. At the end of each leaf there is a slender tendril, and at the base there is a pair of small, leaf-like appendages (stipules). The stipules are rounded at the base and sharply pointed at the tip, appearing half heart-shaped. The shape is distinctive, and can be used to identify the plant when no inflorescence is present. From May to July clusters of cream-colored flowers rise from the leaf axils.
Bohemian knotweed (Fallopia × bohemica) is a fertile hybrid between two highly invasive plants, Japanese knotweed and giant knotweed, and it shares features of both of those plants. The hybrid was introduced into North American and cultivated as an ornamental. It escaped from cultivation and is now naturalized across northern United States. It is reported to be partially or fully fertile, but it spreads mostly by rhizomes and by the dispersal of plant fragments.
Bohemian knotweed is found on river banks, along roadways, and in other disturbed areas. It often forms large dense colonies. Its bamboo-like stems are erect, stiff, and hollow, and usually have many long slender branches. The leaves are up to 12″ long and may be spade-shaped, straight across at the base, or slightly heart-shaped, indented at the base. Both leaf shapes may appear on the same branch. Flowers appear from July to October. The inflorescence may be long, narrow, and unbranched, or short, broad, branched, and plume-like, and it may be either shorter or longer than the nearest leaf.
Though one parent, Japanese knotweed, is listed as invasive in Minnesota, this hybrid is not … yet.
Plant bugs (family Miridae) is the largest family of true bugs (suborder Heteroptera). There are more than 10,000 known species worldwide, several hundred in North America. Green plant bug (Ilnacora malina) is a small, soft-bodied true bug, a medium-sized to large plant bug. It occurs in the United States east of the Great Plains, from Vermont to Minnesota south to Missouri and Virginia, and in adjacent Canadian provinces. Based on the number of reported sightings in North America, it is not very common.
Green plant bug is green with black spots on the forewings and thorax. The forewings have a black membranous section at the tip. The antennae are very long, as long as the forewings. The legs are long, delicate, and green.
Green plant bug is found from mid-June to late July in damp, shady, grassy and weedy areas. It sucks the juices from the leaves and stems of giant ragweed, goldenrod, and possibly other plants.
Hexagonal-pored Polypore (Neofavolus alveolaris) is one of the first mushrooms to appear in woodlands in the spring. It occurs in Europe, Japan, and North America east of the Rocky Mountains. In the United States it is especially common east of the Great Plains. It first appears in May, the same time as morels, and persists through November. It grows on fallen branches and small logs of hardwoods.
The fruiting body is a semicircular to kidney-shaped, shelf-like bracket. When it first appears in late spring it is orange or orangish. It is at this stage that it is most easily recognized. The upper surface is covered with minute scales or delicate fibers. As the season progresses it fades to yellowish or nearly white. It usually has a short, stubby laterally positioned stalk. The pore surface is white to pale yellowish and is covered with conspicuous, large, diamond-shaped or six-sided pores. The pores are not all hexagonal, as the bracket’s common name suggests.
Hexagonal-pored Polypore is not poisonous but the bracket is too small and the flesh is too tough to be edible.
Bluntleaf sandwort (Moehringia lateriflora) is a common but often overlooked perennial forb. It occurs in Asia, northern Europe, and North America. In the United States it is common in the northern tier of states but absent in the south. It is very common in Minnesota. It is found in woodland edges and openings, open woodlands, and gravely riverbanks, and less commonly in meadows and prairies.
Bluntleaf sandwort is a low plant. The stems are much branched, less than 12″ long, and weak. They either curve up from the base or recline on the ground with only the tip ascending. The leaves are opposite, broadly ellipse-shaped, and no more than 1¼″ long. From mid-spring to early summer it produces a few small but showy white flowers.
Bluntleaf sandwort is similar in appearance to chickweeds, but the petals are neither deeply cut nor notched.
Hooded Sunburst Lichen (Oxneria fallax) is a widespread and very common lichen. It occurs throughout Europe and across North America, and is very common in Minnesota. It grows on bark on the trunks of hardwood trees in humid to moderately dry conditions. It forms rosettes up to 1½″ in diameter that often fuse together into large colonies.
Hooded Sunburst Lichen is leaf-like and divided into small lobes. It is deep orange where exposed to the sun, orangish-red to reddish-orange in partially shaded areas, and pale greenish-yellow in deep shade. Tiny, crescent-shaped slits, are formed on the margins at the tips of the lobes. Within the slits powdery, greenish-yellow clusters of cells are produced. The cell clusters are dispersed by wind and rain, and can form new rosettes when they land on a suitable surface.
Disk-like, spore-producing structures are rarely produced. When present, the disks are stalked, orange, up to ⅛″ in diameter, and shaped like a plate. Each disk has a ring of tissue around it that resembles the tissue of the lobes.