Several notable insect species have recently been identified at Nachusa Grasslands by our monitors and researchers: the rusty patched bumble bee, northern dusk singing cicada. citrine forked damselfy, and marked noctuid moth.
Rusty Patched Bumble Bee
The rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis), both a federal and state endangered species, was documented by Bethanne Bruninga-Socolar, PhD.
This species was found in a prairie planting, showing Nachusa’s prairie restoration efforts are working.
As pollinators, bumble bees are a keystone species group that help wildflowers reproduce, which in turn provide seed and fruits for native wildlife.
Dr. Bruninga-Socolar received Friends of Nachusa Grasslands Scientific Research Grants from 2015 to 2018.
Northern Dusk Singing Cicada
The Northern dusk singing cicada (Megatibicen auletes) is the largest cicada in North America and is a notable find due to its restricted distribution in Illinois.
This species is associated with oaks and was discovered in one of Nachusa’s oak woodlands by PhD student Katie Dana. Her cicada study has been funded by 2018-2019 Friends of Nachusa Grasslands Scientific Research Grants.
Marked Notuid Moth
While sampling during an August 2019 night, researchers Wayne Schennum, PHD, and Rich Teper spotted three marked noctuid moths (Tricholita notata).
This species is uncommon in Illinois and is listed as endangered in Ohio and rare in Wisconsin.
The marked noctuid's larval food source is stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida), which is abundant at Nachusa due to the restoration process. Therefore, Nachusa staff and stewards are creating a safe habitat for this species to thrive.
Dr. Schennum was awarded 2017 and 2019 Friends of Nachusa Grasslands Scientific Research Grants to conduct insect surveys.
Citrine Forked Damselfy
During the summer of 2019, dragonfly monitor Dee Hudson identified the citrine forktail damselfy (Ischnura hastata) near a restored wetland in a 2017 crew planting. It's a new species for our Nachusa dragonfly list.
The citrine forktail is the smallest damselfly in North America. It prefers dense vegetation along still waters such as Nachusa's ponds.
Nachusa's dragonfly monitoring program started in 2013 with one monitor and has now expanded to seven monitors who walk assigned routes from April to October each year, when the Odonates are active.
We currently have about 44 species of Odonates (24 dragonfly species, 20 damselfly species) on our species list and are adding new species each season, through our monitors' citizen scientist work.
Monitors report all data to Nachusa Grasslands and to the Illinois Odonate Survey. This data is used at Nachusa to better understand our water quality, migration cycles, and how changes in management actions may affect dragonfly and damselfly populations over time.
Nachusa will have a free dragonfly information and monitoring refresher workshop in March at Nachusa Grasslands for those interested in learning more about dragonflies or becoming monitors. Details will be announced in January. For more information, contact Cindy Crosby at email@example.com. Nachusa also has a Dragonfly and Damselflyweb page and a Facebook Group, Dragonflies of Nachusa Grasslands,