A Very Special Bumblebee

by Tris Hoffman, Flathead National Forest Weed Coordinator
silversagebrush@hotmail.com

The Western Bumblebee is a species that was once common and widespread throughout the western U.S. and Canada.  For a variety of reasons, both known and unknown, populations of this bee are in serious decline.  It has mostly vanished west of the Cascades.  Thankfully, West Valley is a place (perhaps a refuge?) where the bees may still be found.  

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The Three Musketeers of Wasps

by Tris Hoffman, Flathead National Forest Weed Coordinator
silversagebrush@hotmail.com

Walt Disney got it wrong:  The bald-faced hornet

When Disney adapted A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh into a cute animation, he made mistake.  If the “Bear of Very Little Brain” wanted honey, he should have looked for a large hollow tree. The illustrations in Milne’s original stories show Pooh climbing a large tree, but he is not going after the papery egg-shaped nest that the animated bear seems to obsess about.  Disney’s globular gray nest would never provide Pooh with honey, because that is a typical nest of a bald-faced hornet.

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Butterfly Concerns

by Pat Jaquith
pat@westvalleynaturalists.org


Nymphalis antiopa (Mourning Cloak Butterfly), the Montana State Butterfly

The sight of a Mourning Cloak butterfly is a sure sign of spring to me! In late fall, they crawl behind loose bark on a tree where they increase the level of glycerol in their blood, convert excess water in their bodies into a gelatin-like substance that doesn’t freeze, and spend the winter. As spring warmth arrives, they reverse those properties and start flying sooner than many others! Many butterflies endure the winter as eggs, caterpillars, or in a chrysalis. A few, like Monarchs, migrate to warmer climates.

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Bugs or Insects?

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

What’s the difference between a bug and an insect?

All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs. Insects typically have a body segmented into three parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), a hard exoskeleton, six legs, and two antennae. Bees are insects. So are dragonflies, ants, butterflies, beetles, moths, and crickets among many others.

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