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Those Beautiful Bugs of the Prairie and Our Backyards!

As winter winds down and the days are getting longer, the early signs of spring are emerging. The first migrating birds are showing up and the anticipation of events to come heightens. One of those events that "spring" to mind are the beautiful array of insects that will soon be seen. Many of us have read that insects are having significant trouble these days, with some experts sounding the alarm that their populations are plummeting. As Friends of the Blufflands has restored some of the prairies in Hixon Forest and elsewhere on the bluffs, hopefully it has given a few of these insects a small nudge in the right direction. As such, we seem to have noticed an increased number and a higher variety of insects on these prairies. Here are a few photos taken last summer of some of these bugs.

A Hummingbird Clearwing moth sharing a favorite flower, the native prairie thistle, with a bumblebee:

Next, in comes a Monarch, which takes in some nectar then quickly flies off! Is that a male or female?

Then, in swoops a Giant Swallowtail, all on the same thistle!

How about a big Black and Gold bumblebee, again on a prairie thistle!

Sometimes, even before you leave the house, a Hackberry Emperor greets you on the way out the door:

Or an Eastern Comma butterfly lands on your finger!

Maybe a Common Buckeye lands on your ladder:

Then you see a Red-spotted Purple as you're hiking down the trail:

And who can forget the federally endangered Rusty Patched bumblebee, which has been documented on several of our prairies, here on catnip:

Now, who is good at identifying spiders? Here's one that was noticed as we were working on Mathy Bluff Prairie that we were careful to avoid stepping on! If you know this spider, please leave a comment!

Hopefully this short display of photos will inspire to go out and notice and support the wonderful world of insects as they play their important role on the stage of life on our bluffs and in our backyards!

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Thanks, John. What a sharp eye you have! And skill with a camera. Gives me hope that spring is coming!

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