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Intrepid Invertebrates

Snow won't stop them!

Minnesota's long, cold and snowy winters don't deter Minnesota's wildlife...nor the people looking to find them! Minnesota Biological Survey entomologist, Kyle Johnson, reports on some of Minnesota's intrepid invertebrates.

"February 16-26, 2017 was a fine time to be chasing bugs and soaking up sun across Koochiching, Lake of the Woods (including the Northwest Angle), and Roseau counties. Temperatures, incredibly, soared to over 40°F for four days, which caused an early spring thaw of forest roads and snow depth to plummet from 19 inches to 9.

Many insects and other invertebrates (springtails, spiders) were active on the warmer days. The big highlight of the trip was the threatened and elusive winter-active peatland/wetland caddisfly Chilostigma itascae. Prior to the trip, it was known globally only from three locations- all of them in Minnesota. It has now been found in six locations, with additions on both the Minnesota and Manitoba sides of the Pine Creek Peatland.

Other active-on-the-snow insects included a variety of flies. On colder days I sought hibernating insects under tree bark; these included many flies, leafhoppers, beetles, and even a moth I'd never found before at Norris Camp nor anywhere else in northern Minnesota.

On the drive home the land was blanketed in white until about a half hour south of Superior, WI where the snow rapidly gave way to brown landscape more indicative of April than February."