Monthly Archives: May 2016

Random Insect: Click Beetle

Click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae) are unique insects because of a special trick they can perform. When they find themselves stuck upside-down or alarmed by a potential predator, they can suddenly “snap” their flexible thoracic joints to create a “click” sound and launch … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Mule-ears

Mule-ears (Wyethia amplexicaulis, Asteraceae) are relatively conspicuous herbaceous plants found throughout much of the western United States. These sunflower relatives feature long, broad leaves that resemble mule ears as well as numerous large yellow flower heads. They inhabit the intermountain west and are most … Continue reading

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The Great Salt Lake, Utah

Beyond the Great Lakes that surround my native Michigan, the next largest lake in the United States is the Great Salt Lake in northern Utah. Although the lakes of both states share similarly impressive surface areas they are incredibly different in … Continue reading

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Marmot Crossing

Last week I spent a couple of nights camping at Great Basin National Park in east-central Nevada. One point of interest was a stretch of road near Baker Creek that was crawling with yellow-bellied marmots (Rodentia: Sciuridae: Marmota flaviventris). So many … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Short-tailed Ichneumon Wasp

Ichneumon wasps are perhaps the largest animal family on the planet, made up of between 60,000 and 100,000 different species. Approximately 5,000 to 8,000 can be found in North America, and of these eleven are of the genus shown here … Continue reading

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Strut Your Stuff

Wild Turkeys (Galliformes: Phasianidae: Meleagris gallopavo) are found throughout large areas of the United States and Mexico, especially in the east. They are particularly common in the Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Males turkeys begin courtship in … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Cutleaf Toothwort

Appearing in eastern woodlands in April and May, cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata, Brassicaceae) exhibits the four-petaled flower arrangement typical of members of the mustard family.  Its large flowers and relative abundance early in the season make it a favorite of insect pollinators. … Continue reading

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