Looking for insects along the Boardman

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     Wednesday, October 9, was a great day for exploring the trails at the Grand Traverse County Natural Education Reserve and to identify bugs. Our Insects and Bugs class, part of the Northern Naturalist Program, was there along with our instructor from NMC. It was one of those beautiful, warm and sunny fall days that made you glad just to be outside. We explored the area above and below Sabin dam. Since this is one of the dams on the Boardman River to be removed in 2015, the ecology of the area above the dam will change significantly with the removal of the pond.

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Boardman Rivers Sabin Pond

  The Boardman River is a “Designated Natural River” that flows over 28 miles, from Kalkaska to Traverse City, MI and empties into the West arm of Grand Travers Bay. Its watershed drains an area of about 295 sq. miles and is considered to be one of the top 10 Trout Streams in Michigan. Three of the 4 dams along its path have been selected to be removed. In 2012 the Brown Bridge Dam was removed which caused some flooding when the dewatering device failed. The other two dams, Boardman and Sabin, are scheduled to be removed in 2015.

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Jack’s Creek
One of the many creeks that flows into the Boardman River along its course.

   The GTCD Nature Center is located on Cass Road and is the starting point for two of the 6 gorgeous trails along the Boardman River. We hiked both trails, the “Fox Den” Trail (2) and “The Sabin Pond” trail (3) in search of insects to identify. We identified over 30 insects and spiders including a Northern Black Widow Spider with a bumble bee in its nest.

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 Is this an insect on the post or just a chip in the wood? 

     The insect in the picture above is a common Bagworm (Psychidae family of Lepidoptera) a caterpillar that builds a small protective case in which to hide. They are masters of disguise if they pick the materials from where they attach themselves, they become almost invisible to prey. They may carry this around with them and can attach to almost anything. I have once found them attached to the tires of my trailer. In this case, the disguise does not work so well. The adults are called Bag moths.

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Closer View

     Upon closer inspection you can see that this is not just a chip in the wood but a collection of bits and pieces of the wooden post that is held together around the Bagworm with the silk that is connected inside the casing. Since this is fall, it is probably attached here for the winter.

     When this bug wakes up in the spring it will be totally different than it is today. It will be a moth with wings and will no longer have to carry its home around with it.

I wonder if it will remember its previous life.

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