08 December, 2023

Observations of Pelegrina galathea , Peppered Jumping Spiders, on Barnes Tallgrass Prairie Remnants, Racine Co., WI 2017-2023

Pelegrina galathea, peppered jumping spiders, are often found from June through September on forbs and low shrubs at Barnes tallgrass prairie remnants in Racine County, WI. They share these remnants with Phidippus clarus, brilliant jumpers, which are often abundant from June through August. Phidippus princeps, grayish jumpers, are commonly seen from August through early October. Also present from July through September are Thomasidae, crab spiders and Dictyna sp. a small mesh weaver. Argiope aurantia, black and yellow garden spiders which were abundant in past years, now are rarely seen. There are a few Argiope trifasciata, banded garden spiders, on webs in the grassy areas. Lycosidae, wolf spiders, are commonly seen running over the grass.

Peppered jumpers were most often found where there were semi-open areas of flowering forbs, and at the edge of the hedge row, where one was seen on black cherry. They were found on plants from 22 to 40 inches above the ground.

The following is a summary of sightings by date, numbers of peppered jumping spiders seen and plants they were found on.

Date, No. of spiders seen, Plants they were found on, height above ground

Sept. 1, 2017, 1, Sweet black-eyed Susan flower

July 30, 2018, 1, common milkweed leaf, abt. 30” above ground
Aug. 18, 2018, 1, goldenrod stem, abt. 32” above ground
Sept. 8, 2018, 1, black cherry, P. serotina, branch abt. 40” above ground
Sept. 9, 2018, 1, Sweet black-eyed Susan flower, abt. 36” above ground

Sept. 16, 2019, 1, gray headed coneflower, flower 38” above ground

Sept. 2, 2020, 1, sweet black-eyed Susan flower, abt. 34” above ground

Aug. 10, 2021, 1, goldenrod leaf, abt. 30” above ground
Sept. 10, 2021, 1, Sweet black-eyed Susan petal, abt. 30” above ground
Sept. 13, 2021, 1, black eyed Susan flower, abt. 34” above ground
Sept. 15, 2021, 1, underside of coneflower head, abt. 34” above ground
Sept 15, 2021, 1, under Black-eyed Susan flower, abt. 30” above ground

July 28, 2022, 1, not logged
July 31, 2022, 1, goldenrod stem, abt. 24” above ground
Aug.16, 2022, 1, black-eyed Susan flower abt. 37” above ground
Aug. 22, 2022, 1, goldenrod leaf, abt. 27” above ground, with prey

June 7, 2023, 1, low growing shrub leaf abt. 25” above ground
July 1, 2023, 1, teasel, abt. 22” above ground

July 6, 2023, 1, aster leaf, abt. 29” above ground
July 8, 2023, 1, common buckthorn stem, abt. 24” above ground
July 11, 2023, 1, aster leaf
Aug 1, 2023, 1, goldenrod leaf, about 29” above ground
Aug 1, 2023, 1, goldenrod stem, running down
Aug. 31, 2023, 1, not logged

Sept. 1, 2023, 1, not logged

No predation of these spiders was observed. Peppered jumper prey consisted of small, unidentified flies; a leafhopper; ants; Allograpta obliqua, oblique streaktail; and unidentified Toxomerus, hover flies.

Posted on 08 December, 2023 22:04 by bkis bkis | 11 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

06 December, 2023

Observations of Melanoplus scudderi, Scudder’s Short-winged Grasshoppers, on a Tallgrass Prairie Remnant in Racine Co., WI, 2017-2023

Scudder’s short-winged grasshoppers were found at Barnes Prairie, Racine Co. WI during surveys conducted from 2017-2023. Habitat consisted of a degraded tallgrass prairie with more than 40 native forbs and grasses, invasive herbaceous plants and scattered, non-native shrubs. Woody plants in a nearby narrow hedgerow consisted of bur oak, red or black oak, black walnut, sugar maple, hazelnut, non-native honeysuckle, prickly ash, brambles, and Virginia creeper. Most of the herbaceous plants in the hedgerow were Virginia waterleaf, Solomon’s seal, Starry false Solomon’s seal, Solomon’s plume, Virginia bluebells, Canadian honewort and violets.

The following is a summary of sightings by date, numbers of grasshoppers seen, plants the grasshoppers were found on and comments. All grasshoppers were found on the tallgrass prairie; none were seen in the hedgerow.

Date, No. of Grasshoppers Seen, Plants Grasshoppers Were On, Comments

Sept. 1, 2017, 2, Common milkweed, m/f mating

Sept. 8, 2018, 1, Common milkweed leaf

Oct. 3, 2019, 1, Grasses,

Sept 19, 2020, 1, Bur oak leaf on the ground

Sept. 15, 2022, 1, Common milkweed leaf

Oct. 5, 2022, 1, Unidentified shrub leaf

Sept. 7, 2023, 1, Goldenrod leaf

Sept. 12, 2023, 2, Goldenrod flowers, appeared to be
eating pollen

Sept. 16, 2023, 1, Grasses

Oct. 15, 2023, 1, Oak leaf on the ground

Predation by European Mantis
On September 12, 2023, a European mantis on a goldenrod leaf was seen with Scudder’s short-winged grasshopper prey.

Posted on 06 December, 2023 14:33 by bkis bkis | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

01 December, 2023

Observations of Chinese mantis, Tenodera sinensis , and prey at Chiwaukee Prairie, Kenosha Co., WI on Aug 29, 2020

During a migratory monarch butterfly count at Chiwaukee Prairie on Aug 29, 2020, our party encountered three Tenodera sinensis. Two were found on shrubs, and one was on prairie blazing star. All three mantids were observed for about an hour.

Chinese mantis 1, on a shrub (common buckthorn) adjacent to prairie blazing star and goldenrod, caught a monarch, a bumblebee and a syrphid fly. These insects, foraging on the blazing star and goldenrod flowers, were caught when they were about the same height from the ground as the mantis. Found in the area under the mantis were unidentified clear insect wings, parts of monarch wings and blue butterfly wings resembling those of an eastern tailed blue.

Chinese mantis 2 was also on a shrub; species of this shrub was not logged. The shrub was near false sunflower and prairie blazing star flowers. It was eating a grasshopper. Caught in the shrub branches and on the ground under the mantis were monarch wings, yellow sulphur butterfly wings, tiger swallowtail wings, small tan wings which might have been from a skipper, clear wings, and unidentified parts of insects.

Chinese mantis 3 was found on prairie blazing star and was observed catching a honeybee that landed on these flowers. After finishing its meal, the mantid caught a syrphid fly that came to these flowers. Monarch wings were found on the grasses adjacent to the blazing star.

Posted on 01 December, 2023 14:59 by bkis bkis | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

30 November, 2023

Decline in populations of Virginia ctenucha moths, Ctenucha virginica, at Barnes Tallgrass Prairie remnants, Racine Co. WI. From 1979 to 2023

Virginia ctenucha, a day-flying tiger moth, was commonly seen at Barnes Prairie remnants from 1978 until 2004. In recent years, their populations appear to be declining. Although there has not been a reduction in acreage of the area surveyed, some of the adjacent farmland has been developed into housing and commercial use, which increased in 2000.

Surveys were conducted biweekly from mid-June through mid-August between 1978 and 2015. Surveys were conducted as described in Comments between 2016 and 2023. The table below shows the Date with the most moths observed on a single day in the summer, from 1978 through 2019. Observations made on multiple days are combined in the Moths Counted column for the years 2020-2023.

Year, Moths Counted, Date, Comments

1978, 15, June 18, Most on common yarrow, also on daisy

1979, 17, June 16, Mid 80s F SW strong wind, partly cloudy.
On common yarrow, fleabane, daisy; count
made in early afternoon.

1984, 19, June 17, On common yarrow and fleabane.

1987, 8, July 19, Hot day, 90s F, flowers wilting.

1990, 12, Mid July, On common yarrow, common milkweed,
thistle, gray-headed coneflower and grasses.

1994, 13, Mid July, On common yarrow, common milkweed,

1996, 14, 2nd wk in July, On common yarrow, common milkweed,
ox-eye daisy, grasses.

2000, 9, June 11, Noon, 80 F, on yarrow, thistle.

2004, 11, June 16, Afternoon. 3 on one common yarrow. Other
Nectar plants included daisy fleabane,
thistle, common yarrow. Two were found on
grass leaves. One on teasel leaf.

2008, 3, Mid June, No other information.

2012, 6, June 8, Common yarrow and grass.

2015, 4, August 11, 3 on Queen Anne’s lace, one on thistle.

2016, 3, August 6, No other information available.

2017, 1, August 7, Goldenrod.

2018, 6, June 19, No other information available.

2019, 0, Summer, None seen in late May, June and July,
weekly surveys.

2020, 3, Summer, June 8 (daisy fleabane), June 19 (grass),
July 2 (thistle)

2021, 2, Summer, June 27, one on common teasel leaf. July 8,
no other information available for this date.

2022, 0, Summer, None seen in late May, June and July,
weekly surveys.

2023, 0, Summer, None seen, weekly surveys late May
through August.

Although moth populations have fluctuated between years, there has been a noticeable decline since 2004. Possible causes may be an increase in number of European mantids and/or other predators, earlier mowing of nearby hayfields and meadows, use of pesticides, increase in the number of persons walking in the prairie areas, collecting butterflies and possibly moths, wilting of flowers during dry summers, and/or lower survival rate of overwintering caterpillars due to reduced snow cover. There has been an increase in the use of “bug zappers” in nearby neighborhoods since 2000, but I’m not clear as to whether these moths are attracted to them in early evening or night.

Posted on 30 November, 2023 15:59 by bkis bkis | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

19 November, 2023

Summary of sightings of Phidippus princeps, grayish jumping spiders, at Barnes Tallgrass Prairie Remnants, Racine Co., WI in 2023

Phidippus princeps, grayish jumping spiders, are commonly seen on two Barnes tallgrass prairie remnants in Racine County, WI. Remnant 1 is a fine quality native prairie, with over 80 species of native plants. Remnant 2 is an old field with a native, degraded prairie border. Invasive grasses, native grasses, about 40 species of scattered native forbs, several species of native shrubs, and non-native shrubs, mainly common buckthorn, are found here. Over 30 spiders were seen and photographed from Aug. 30 through to November 2, 2023 at these remnants.

Spiders were found on following plants:
Monarda fistulosa: leaves, stems, seed heads
Common buckthorn: leaves, stems
Common milkweed: leaves, stems
Gray dogwood: leaves, stems
Goldenrod sp.: stem

Spiders were seen with the following prey:
Unidentified small flies
Unidentified ants
Ants, species Subgenus Cautolasius Lasius neoniger Complex
Ants, Formica pallidefulva

Observation of Phidippus princeps catching prey
Date and time: September 9, 2023, 1:34 PM
Location: On common milkweed leaf
Comments: Many Cautolasius and Lasius ants were seen flying on this day.
This small spider was near the axil of a common milkweed leaf, with its abdomen near the stem. An ant landed approximately two inches away from the spider, about an inch from the tip of this leaf, as the ant moved closer to the spider, the spider slowly moved towards it, jumped out and caught it.

Posted on 19 November, 2023 23:15 by bkis bkis | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

17 November, 2023

Interactions between Megarhyssa macrurus ssp. macrurus, long-tailed giant ichneumonid wasp and Tremex columba, pigeon horntail, and on a sugar maple tree on July 8, 2023, at a Barnes Prairie hedge row, Racine County, WI

Walking along a hedgerow adjacent to Barnes Prairie on a humid, 82F degree late afternoon on July 8, 2023, I heard a “clacking” sound. In the hedgerow, I saw a long-tailed giant ichneumonid wasp on the trunk of a sugar maple tree, which appeared to be making this noise. The possible reason for her agitation seemed to be a second long-tailed giant ichneumonid wasp, which had come into view on the tree trunk. When it appeared, the first ichneumonid wasp ran towards it. The second ichneumonid wasp flew, but from my vantage point, I could see it landing on the back of the tree trunk.

The maple tree that these ichneumonid wasps were on had a trunk diameter of approximately 24 inches, 6 feet above the ground. There were several dead branches on the tree, however; about three-quarters of the branches were leafy.

I turned my attention back to the first ichneumonid wasp. She was walking, then “freezing” and I became aware of a pigeon horntail, seemingly oblivious to the ichneumonid wasp, which was about a foot from her. The pigeon horntail was walking around in a small area below the dead branches, stopping periodically. The ichneumonid wasp began to slowly arc back and forth around the pigeon horntail. From time to time, the second ichneumonid wasp appeared on this side of the tree. The first ichneumonid wasp either ran towards it or flew at it. The second wasp flew or ran around the trunk of the tree, out of view.

For about a minute, the first ichneumonid continued to walk back and forth at the sides of the pigeon horntail, at a distance of about 3 inches to over 12 inches, “freezing” when the pigeon horntail moved. The pigeon horntail found the spot she was looking for and began laying eggs in the tree. After a short time, she flew off. The ichneumonid flew away a few seconds later.

Was the ichneumonid wasp’s interest in the pigeon horntail to mark or remember this area, which with an eye to revisit it at a future date? I made my rounds by this tree several times after July 8, but didn’t see any giant ichneumonid wasps or pigeon horntails on these trips.

I had photographed a giant ichneumonid wasp on this same tree trunk, about 6 feet from the ground, on June 29, 2023, in an area a few inches away from where the pigeon horntail had laid her eggs on July 8. I watched as the ichneumonid landed, and head and antennae down, walked along the bark of the tree, possibly detecting the smell/movement of pigeon tremex larva. After about a minute and a half, she began laying eggs into the tree trunk. Her efforts took about 5 minutes (about 5:06 to 5:10 PM), then she flew away.

I have numerous photos of these two wasps, not included in this journal entry. Contact me if interested in seeing them.

Posted on 17 November, 2023 23:49 by bkis bkis | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

15 November, 2023

Proximity of longhorn bees, Melissodes bimaculatus to cuckoo bees, Triepeolus sp. (some of which were identified as Triepeolus lunatus) during summer 2023 on a tallgrass prairie remnant, Racine Co., WI.

Larva of cuckoo bees, Triepeolus lunatus, are cleptoparasitic on Melissodes bimaculatus. In 2023, I made numerous trips to Barnes prairie and observed both species, which were found in close proximity to each other. Some of my observations are summarized below.

During late spring and summer, a number of Melissodes sp. (many identified as M. bimaculatus, two spotted longhorn bees), were observed on a section of Barnes Prairie in Racine County, WI, which was about 2,500 square feet in area. The site was located on a slight slope, with grasses and over 40 species of native and non-native forbs. A hedgerow to the south held the remains of a decaying woodpile.

During the day, bees were seen foraging on the following flowers:
June: Carolina rose, woodland poppy, purple clover, wild geranium
July: Wild bergamot, motherwort, bidens, lance-leaf coreopsis, thistle, common milkweed
August: Purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, brown-eyed Susan, vervain, chicory, sunflowers

Counts were taken early morning, after sunrise, or early evening, before sunset, of male longhorn bees resting on grass leaves, aster leaves and stems, and goldenrod leaves and stems within an 18 square foot area. The plants that the bees rested on changed every few days, but stayed within this area for the entire time they were observed.

Date, No of longhorn bees counted
July 6, 2023, 14
July 7, 2023, 4
July 10, 2023, 14
July 11, 2023, 14
July 12, 2023, 11
July 13, 2023, 9
July 15, 2023, 9
July 16, 2023, 9
July 19, 2023, 6
July 20, 2023, 14
July 22, 2023, 8
July 27, 2023, 9

In addition to these bees, solitary longhorn bees were also found in early evening on grass or aster plants about one foot from an area where there were several resting cuckoo bees, Triepeolus sp. (several identified as T. lunatus).

Date, Number of longhorn bees found near cuckoo bees
July 27, 1
Aug. 6, 1

An apparent Melissodes bimaculatus, longhorn bee, nest location was found by the hedgerow, near a rotting woodpile. One bee was seen entering a hole in the ground on July 18. On July 27, late afternoon, a longhorn bee was seen going into this hole. Stems of a gray dogwood shrub were approximately two feet from the hole. This presumed nest was approximately 15 feet from the area where cuckoo bees were seen resting in early morning and late afternoon, and about 50 feet from the resting male longhorn bees.

Resting cuckoo bees, Triepeolus sp. (Triepeolus lunatus), were counted and photographed in early morning, after sunrise, or late afternoon, before sunset. Bees were resting on stems of native and non- native grasses, on annual non native plants, and on aster leaves and stems. The bees relocated to different plants of the same species every few days, but stayed within a several square foot area for the entire time they were observed. These resting bees were located approximately 35 feet from the resting longhorn bees.

Date, No of cuckoo bees counted
July 7, 2023, 1
July 18, 2023, 4
July 19,2023, 4
July 20, 2023, 4
July 22, 2023, 2
July 27, 2023, 3
Aug. 6, 2023, 3

In addition to these sightings, there were two instances in the early evening where resting cuckoo bees were found on aster stems or leaves, located approximately two feet from the groups of resting longhorn bees.

Date, No of cuckoo bees near longhorn bees
July 19, 2023, 1
July 27, 2023, 1

During the day, cuckoo bees were seen foraging on several flower species:
July: Lance-leaf coreopsis, black-eyed Susan, alsike or hybrid clover.

No cuckoo bees were seen entering the hole the longhorn bees had entered by the hedgerow. The hybrid clover cuckoo bees frequented was located several feet from the presumed longhorn bee nest.

Posted on 15 November, 2023 16:25 by bkis bkis | 26 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

13 November, 2023

Bumblebee Species found on several Barnes Tallgrass Prairie Remnants, Racine Co., WI in 2023

In numerous surveys conducted at Barnes Prairie, Racine Co from early June through mid- September 2023, seven species of bumblebees were observed: Bombus affinis, B. bimaculatus, B. borealis, B. fervidus, B. griseocollis, B. impatiens and B. rufocinctus. A summary of sightings for each of these bumblebees, including forage plants, follows.

Bombus affinis, rusty-patched bumblebee
Dates seen: July 28, 2023; August 1, 2023
Forage plants: wild bergamot, purple coneflower, Culver’s root

Bombus bimaculatus, two spotted bumblebee
Dates seen: May 30, 2023: June 5, 2023; June 10, 2023; July 11, 2023; August 10, 2023
Forage plants: Virginia waterleaf, Carolina rose, thistle, wild bergamot, purple coneflower

Bombus borealis, northern amber bumblebee
Date seen: August 1, 2023
Forage plant: wild bergamot

Bombus fervidus, golden northern bumblebee
Dates seen: June 6, 2023; July 3, 2023; July 17, 2023; July 20, 2023; July 28, 2023
Forage plants: hoary puccoon, purple clover, teasel, wild bergamot, thistle

Bombus griseocollis, brown-belted bumblebee
Dates seen: June 30, 2023; July 28, 2023; Aug. 1, 2023; Aug. 6, 2023; Aug. 12, 2023
Forage plants: lance-leaved coreopsis, common milkweed, wild bergamot, purple coneflower, thistle, prairie blazing star, goldenrod

Bombus impatiens, common eastern bumblebee
Dates seen: June 1, 2023; June 30, 2023; August 6, 2023; August 12, 2023; Aug 21, 2023; September 16, 2023
Forage plants: purple clover, common milkweed, wild bergamot, goldenrod, aster

Bombus rufocinctus, red-belted bumblebee
Dates seen: June 1, 2023; August 1, 2023; August 9, 2023; August 16, 2023
Forage plants: Virginia waterleaf, purple coneflower, gray-headed coneflower, black-eyed Susan, Culver’s root

Posted on 13 November, 2023 15:11 by bkis bkis | 14 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

10 November, 2023

Summary of Observations of Araneus pratensis, openfield orbweaver, at Barnes Tallgrass Prairie Remnants, Racine Co., WI. in 2023

Araneus pratensis, a small, colorful orbweaver, has historically been found on segments of the original tallgrass prairie in Racine, Kenosha and Walworth Counties which was known as Barnes Prairie, as related to me by neighbors when I was a child. Neighbors, relatives and friends of my family, living in Racine and Walworth Counties, whom I interviewed in the late 1950s as a child, called this spider the “little, colorful web spider” or a “red and orange striped small web making spider”. Two of the women I interviewed told me that they were common along the (unmown) roadsides, between unplowed fields, and in the wildflower fields (original tallgrass prairie remnants).
Due to development of these lands to housing, highways, industry and commercial business over the last 50 years, only a few areas of native tallgrass prairie remained as of 2023. My surveys were at several of these now-degraded native tallgrass prairie remnants in Racine County.

Araneus pratensis were typically found in drier areas of the prairie where shorter grasses and forbs were predominant. Gray dogwood and prickly ash were often seen in these areas. Areas of goldenrod, white gentian, common milkweed, aster and taller grasses also held populations of these small arachnids.

A Total of 45 Spiders were seen and photographed in late summer and early fall, 2023. Photos were taken during the day, from early morning to late afternoon.

Date, No. of Spiders
Aug. 30, 2023, 1
Sept. 7, 2023, 1
Sept. 9, 2023, 5
Sept 16, 2023, 18
Sept. 18, 2023, 9
Sept. 20, 2023, 5
Oct. 2, 2023, 3
Oct. 18, 2023, 1
Oct. 24, 2023, 2

Web anchor plants
Plants that webs, with spiders on them, were attached to, included short grasses, goldenrod leaves and grasses, webs connected to common milkweed leaves and between a gray dogwood leaf and grass. Several spiders were found on common milkweed pods, not on their webs.

Web hub/center height and comments
Heights varied, with the shortest being about 7” from the ground. Many were between 9 and 14 inches from the ground. Highest hubs were seen between 28 and 32 inches from the ground.
Two webs with A. pratensis were located adjacent to the webs of Argiope trifasciata. One of these was connected to the same blade of grass that the banded argiope web was anchored to.

On October 16, a number of winged ants were seen in webs. Also seen were unidentified small flies.

Posted on 10 November, 2023 15:29 by bkis bkis | 33 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

19 February, 2023

Prairie plants that Phidippus princeps, grayish jumping spiders, were seen on at Barnes Tallgrass Prairie Remnants, 2019-2022

Phidippus princeps, grayish jumping spiders, were commonly seen on Barnes tallgrass prairie remnants in Racine County, WI. Remnant 1 had been burned prior to 1970, and is hand weeded and sections mowed to control invasive weeds. It is a fine quality native prairie, with over 80 species of native plants. Remnant 2 was periodically mowed in late September or October. It is a degraded prairie, formerly intermittently grazed, with over 40 species of native plants. Shrubs on these prairies are gray dogwood, new Jersey tea, dogbane (A. androsaemifolium) and scattered non-native invasive shrubs, including buckthorn, Japanese honeysuckle and multflora rose.

Surveys for grayish jumping spiders were conducted during several weeks in September, 2019-2022. During the surveys, two persons looked for P. princeps on the prairie plants for a couple of hours. I photographed the spiders and the plants they were found on. Although many species of prairie plants are found on these remnants, we found P. princeps on three species: common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca; wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, and goldenrod, Solidago sp. These plants were located at or near the highest parts of these prairie remnants.

September 2019
Remnant no., Size, No. of P. princeps seen, Plant species they were seen on
1, 4 ½ acres, 2, wild bergamot leaves

September 2020
Remnant no., Size, No. of P. princeps seen, Plant species they were seen on
1, 4 ½ acres, 1, wild bergamot leaf

2, 10 acres, 2, common milkweed leaf and stem

September 2021
Remnant no., Size, No. of P. princeps seen, Plant species they were seen on
1, 4 ½ acres, 3, wild bergamot leaf, goldenrod sp.
leaf, common milkweed leaf and stem

2, 10 acres, 3, goldenrod sp. leaf, common
milkweed leaf and stem

September 2022
Remnant no., Size, No. of P. princeps seen, Plant species they were seen on
1, 4 ½ acres, 4, goldenrod sp. leaf, common
milkweed leaves and stem

2, 10 acres, 5, common milkweed leaves and stem

Posted on 19 February, 2023 21:19 by bkis bkis | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment