Bot1320 Chapter 8 The Nature of Farming
  1. Much of the prairies have been cultivated and turned into farms that support a variety of wildlife.
    • Farms provide man-made habitat for species adapted to human disturbance.

      Cultivation had reduced the diversity, but increased the quantity of crops that serve as the base of the food web in the new environment.

    • The two major crops grown in the prairie regions are wheat and corn.

      The grassland soil is so suited to growing these grass crops, the vast majority of original prairies have been lost to cultivation, including the "prairie state" of Illinois.

    • Rodents
      • The abundance of seeds and insects on farms attract an abundance of rodents such as this Deer Mouse.

        The similar White-footed Mouse is also common.

        These wild mice may occasionally enter homes and become a nuisance.

        Other rodents include "field mice" such as Meadow Vole, which may sometimes be parasitized by a bot fly.

        Voles dig burrows and often chew runways through vegetation.

    • Birds
      • Some birds have adapted to man-made structures and cultivated habitats on farms.

        • Barn Swallow

        • Great Horned Owl

      • Barn Swallow is the most widespread swallow in the world, occurring not only in the Americas, but also Eurasia and Africa.

        The American subspecies have rufous to tawny underparts, especially males.

        They often build their mud nest in human structures such as barns, or under bridges and eaves of buildings.

      • Great Horned Owl can take advantage abandoned farmstands and other human structures.

        Rodents in these structures also provide food for these nocturnal hunters.

    • Flies
      • Flies and moths belong to the insect order Diptera.

        Unlike other insects, they have only 2 flying wings; the hind wings are modified into halteres that help maintain balance in flight.

        • Beefly

        • Hoverfly

        • Tachinid Fly

        • Goldenrod Gall Fly

        • Walnut Husk Fly

      • Beefly adults are bee mimics, feeding on nectar and pollen; their hairy bodies can transport pollen from flower to flower.

        Larvae (maggots) are parasites or predators of insect eggs in the soil, including those of grasshoppers.

      • Hoverflies (flower flies) are acrobatic fliers that can hover in the air while patrolling their territories.

        Adults are bee mimics, seeking nectar in flower or sugary water from pop bottles.

      • Tachinid Fly adults are nectar feeders.

        Larvae (maggots) are parasites on the larvae of other insects, including introduced pests such as European Corn Borer, but also natives such as Monarch caterpillars.

      • Goldenrod Gall Fly is an obligate parasite of goldenrods.

        An adult female lays an egg in a goldenrod stem, and the hatched larva (a maggot) feeds on plant tissue; the plant grows additional tissue (called a gall) around the damage.

        The larva overwinters in the gall, exiting in spring as an adult.

      • Walnut Husk Fly is an obligate parasite of walnuts.

        An adult female lays eggs in a walnut husk, and the hatched larvae (maggots) feed on husk tissue.

        This feeding causes the fleshy skin to decay, staining the nutshell.

        In late fall the maggots drop to the soil and pupate for 3 or 4 years before metamorphosing into adult.

    • True Bugs
      • True Bugs belong to the insect order Hemiptera.

        Their forewings cross over the back at rest, as seen on this Small Milkweed Bug.

        The Large Milkweed Bugs are typical and undergo incomplete metamorphosis: the nymphs look like miniature adults.

        • Oleander Aphid

        • Brown Ambrosia Aphid

        • Candy-Striped Leafhopper

        • Froghopper
    • Beetles
      • Beetles belong to the insect order Coleoptera.

        These "sheathed wings" are the most numerous and diverse of all animals.

        The forewings are thickened into "sheaths" (elytra) that form a straight line down the back at rest, covering the flying hindwings.

        • Weevils

        • Lady Beetles

        • Common Eastern Firefly

        • Japanese Beetle (introduced)

        • Dogbane Beetle

        • Red Milkweed Beetle

        • Aquatic Beetles

      • Weevils are parasitic beetles that lay eggs in the fruit of host plants.

        • Baptisia Weevil in White Wild Indigo

        • Sunflower Headclipping Weevil in Compass Plant

        • Pecan Weevil in Shagbark Hickory

      • Lady Beetles such as this introduced Asian Lady Beetle are predators of soft-bodied insects such as aphids and whiteflies.

        The larvae are also voracious predators.

        Native Lady Beetles include Sevenspotted Lady Beetle

      • The Common Eastern Firefly belongs to the insect order Coleoptera.

        Unlike the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle or the Margined Leatherwing, the pronotum (a plate over the thorax) covers the head of the beetle, so the head is usually hidden from view.

        Fireflies use lighting signals to communicate for mating.

        The female of the Pennsylvania Firefly mimics the flashes of the Common Eastern Firefly, luring males of the latter and eating him.

      • Aquatic Beetles such as this Diving Beetle can stay under water by trapping a bubble of air under its elytra.

        The Crawling Water Beetles also carry air bubbles under the forewings and the hind legs for gas exchange.

    • Butterflies and moths
      • Butterflies and moths belong to the insect order Lepidoptera.

        They can be considered predators in the larva stage and mutualistic pollinators as adults.

        • Great Spangled Fritillary

        • Monarch

        • Evergreen Bagworm

      • The caterpillars of Great Spangled Fritillary feed exclusively on leaves of violets such as Common Blue Violet.

        Violets can produce closed flowers that self-seed to form large patches that some humans consider to be "weeds".

        "Weeding" violets will reduce available host plants for caterpillars of Fritillary butterflies.

      • Monarch and other Lepidoptera undergo complete metamorphosis: the life cycle consists of 4 stages, with 5 molts.

        • egg

        • larva

        • pupa

        • adult: male and female

      • The Evergreen Bagworm is a moth (insect order Lepidoptera).

        The larvae construct "bags" made of plant debris bound with silk.

        In late summer the larvae pupate in the "bags".

        When mature, the male emerges to seek females.

        The female adult remains in her "bag"; she is a wingless, legless, eyeless, mouthless "bag", gravid with eggs.

        The female dies after a few days; the eggs remain in the "bag" over the winter.

    • Dragonflies and damselflies
      • Dragonflies and Damselflies belong to the insect order Odonata.

        • Calico Pennant

        • Blue-fronted Dancer

        All Odonata form a "wheel" while mating.

      • The Calico Pennant has strong black and orange markings on the abdomen as well on the wings of the female.

        The male has bold red markings instead of orange.

      • Many Odonata change their color as they mature; some females also take on different color forms.

        The female Blue-fronted Dancer damsel may take on a blue or a brown form.

        Immature males resemble the brown female, but become blue in the thorax and abdomen tip as they mature.

    • Grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids
      • Grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids belong to the insect order Orthoptera.

        Some, such as the extinct Rocky Mountain Locust, can devour crops and are considered agricultural pests, while others, such as Turnbull's Grasshopper may be considered "beneficial".

        • Red-legged Grasshopper

        • Carolina Grasshopper

        • Snowy Tree Cricket

        • Black-legged Meadow Katydid

        • Greater Angle-wing Katydid
          • lisping:
          • ticking:

        Crickets and katydids sing by stridulation.

      • Turnbull's Grasshopper feeds on alien species such as Lamb's Quarters as well as weedy native plants such as Tall Goldenrod.

        Populations of this "beneficial" grasshopper seldom become large enough to have significant impact on these weeds.

      • Red-legged Grasshopper is very common species in the disturbed environments of DuPage.

        In autumn the female becomes gravid: its abdomen is loaded with eggs, extending beyond its wings.

      • The Snowy Tree Cricket sings mainly at night.

        The rate of its chirps is temperature dependent: the interval between chirps increases with temperature.

        • cold:
        • warm:
        • hot:
        To get the temperature in ° F: count # of chirps in 13 seconds, then add 40.

      • Crickets "sing" by a process called stridulation.

        A file with serrated teeth on one forewing is rubbed against a scraper on the other forewing.

        The vibration produces pulses of sound that can be "heard" by the tympanum located on the front tibia.

    • Bees, wasps, and ants

    • Bees, wasps, and ants belong to the insect order Hymenoptera; they play a wide diversity of roles in the ecosystem.

      • Eastern Carpenter Bee

      • Bald-faced Hornet

      • Great Golden Digger Wasp

    • The Eastern Carpenter Bee nests in wood by making T-shped tunnels.

      The hairy thorax and brush-like scopa on the leg pick pick up pollen, making this bee an important pollinator.

    • This Bald-faced Hornet has survived the winter with her fertilized eggs.

      She will lay the eggs to start a colony of mostly female workers, who will construct a papery nest.

      The colony feeds on nectar, tree sap and other sugar-rich liquids, and capture small arthropods to feed the larvae.

      As the next winter approaches, reproductive drones and females mate; the whole colony dies excepted the newly mated queens, who will seek shelter to survive the winter.

    • The Great Golden Digger Wasp adult feeds on nectar.

      Females sting and paralyze other arthropods and bury them in underground nests.

      They lay eggs in the paralyzed prey, and larvae feed on the living tissue of the victim.