Nature wakes up

It’s an exciting time of year for the field entomologists of the temperate north. The snow has finally left southern Quebec and nature is getting up to speed for spring. Along with the more obvious signs of spring that most people notice – the first flowers and buds opening up, the return of the birds, the onslaught of suburban squirrels – there are the little signs that entomologists look for. The first big flies wandering the campus on sunny days, the first swarms of black flies (non-biters this early in the year!) over the walkways, the mourning cloak butterflies in the Arboretum, the wolf spiders hunting over last year’s dead grass . . .

Insects and spiders get moving early in spring, especially those that spend the winter as adults, and scavengers have lots to feed on. Although we think of the warm days of summer as the peak of activity for insects around here, there is a surprisingly rich community of species that is out and gone by the time the lilacs bloom. In some of the fly families that interest us in the Museum, there are spring species that we can find in high numbers as early as March, if the weather cooperates. Some of these species of chloropid and agromyzid flies have a second generation later in the summer or fall, but for others, this is the time to find them.

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About terry wheeler

professor, museum director, entomologist, ecologist, naturalist
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