Insects

The following is a guide to some of the insects that may be encountered in the Linnaeus Arboretum.

Key to species accounts:

Species name: common name with scientific (Latin) name in parentheses; “L.” following scientific name designates a species named by Linnaeus circa. 1760 A.D.

  1. Status at Gustavus, when and how often it is seen on campus
  2. Habitat: where it can be found in southern Minnesota
  3. Most commonly heard vocalizations, if applicable
  4. Size
  5. Additional pertinent information

* All photos taken at Gustavus by Bob Dunlap, Arboretum Naturalist unless otherwise noted.

Butterflies and Moths

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch

  • Status: commonly seen in prairies and gardens of Arb and rest of campus mid-May to early October
  • Habitat: prairies and grasslands, especially where milkweed (host plant) is plentiful
  • Wingspan up to 4 inches
  • State Butterfly of Minnesota

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

Viceroy

  • Status: infrequently seen in prairies and gardens of Arb and rest of campus late May to early October
  • Habitat: open areas near willows and poplars (host plants)
  • Wingspan up to 3 inches
  • Mimics the monarch in appearance; while the monarch is poisonous to predators, the viceroy is not

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

Red-spotted Purple

  • Status: very rarely seen in gardens of Arb, only observations from late July 2010 and early August 2011
  • Habitat: open woodlands and forest edges, especially near birches, willows, and poplars (host plants)
  • Wingspan up to 3 inches
  • Now considered the same species as the White Admiral, which is a butterfly more common in northern Minnesota

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) L.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

  • Status: infrequently seen in gardens and wooded areas of Arb and rest of campus mid-May to late September
  • Habitat: semi-open to dense woodlands, open areas near trees, especially where poplars (host plants) are present
  • Wingspan up to 5 inches
  • Males are yellow, but females can be either yellow morph or dark morph

Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Eastern Black Swallowtail

  • Status: seen only a few times each year in gardens of Arb from late May to mid-October
  • Habitat: grasslands, open areas near gardens, especially where members of the carrot family (host plants) are present
  • Wingspan up to 4 inches

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) L.

Painted Lady

  • Status: infrequently seen in prairies and gardens of Arb and rest of campus early May to early October
  • Habitat: prairies and grasslands, especially where asters and thistles (host plants) are present
  • Wingspan up to 3 inches
  • Found on every continent except Antarctica

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) L.

Red Admiral

  • Status: infrequently seen in gardens of Arb and rest of campus early May to early October
  • Habitat: woodlands, wet grasslands, suburban areas where nettles (host plants) are present
  • Wingspan up to 3 inches
  • Unable to survive cold winters, the northern populations of this species are usually replenished by emigrants from southern populations

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

Clouded Sulphur

  • Status: commonly seen in gardens of Arb and rest of campus late May to early October
  • Habitat: grasslands, open areas where vetches and clovers (host plants) are present
  • Wingspan up to 2 inches
  • Males of this species are always yellow while females can appear whitish or light greenish

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) L.

Cabbage White

  • Status: commonly seen across campus early May to early October
  • Habitat: open woodlands, grasslands, open rural and urban areas where mustards (host plants) are present
  • Wingspan up to 2 inches
  • Introduced in North America (native to Europe, Africa, and Asia)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

  • Status: commonly seen in prairies and gardens of Arb and rest of campus early May to early October
  • Habitat: prairies, pastures, semi-open woodlands, especially where asters (host plants) are present
  • Wingspan up to 1 inch

White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineate)

White-lined Sphinx

  • Status: infrequently seen in gardens of Arb and rest of campus late May to late September, most often near dusk
  • Habitat: wide variety of habitats, gardens
  • Wingspan up to 4 inches
  • Often mistaken for hummingbirds

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

Snowberry Clearwing

  • Status: very rarely seen in gardens and prairies of Arb, only observations from early August 2009 and late July 2011
  • Habitat: wide variety of habitats, gardens
  • Wingspan up to 2 inches
  • Mimics bumblebees

Dragonflies and Damselflies

Common Green Darner (Anax junius)

  • Status: commonly seen in Arb near wetlands mid-April to early October, large numbers seen migrating in May and September
  • Habitat: prairies, wetlands, areas near water
  • Wingspan up to 4 inches
  • One of only two North American insects that truly migrates (other is monarch butterfly)

Meadowhawk (Sympetrum sp.)

Ruby Meadowhawk

  • Status: commonly seen in Arb near prairies and wetlands late May to late September
  • Habitat: prairies, grassy areas near water
  • Wingspan up to 2 inches
  • Females and juveniles are golden in color

Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella)

Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Photo taken near Grand Marais, Cook County

  • Status: commonly seen throughout Arb, especially near prairies and wetlands, late May to late September
  • Habitat: prairies, wetlands, grassy areas near water
  • Wingspan up to 3 inches

Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

Widow Skimmer

  • Status: commonly seen throughout Arb, especially near prairies and wetlands, late May to late September
  • Habitat: prairies, wetlands, grassy areas near water
  • Wingspan up to 3 inches

Cicadas

Annual Cicada (Tibicen canicularis)

Annual Cicada

  • Status: heard daily in Arb and across campus late June to early October, most often around midday, exoskeletons frequently found on tree trunks and wooden structures
  • Habitat: woodlands, forested areas, open areas with trees
  • Voice is a loud, monotonous buzz lasting up to 10 seconds (made with its abdomen)
  • Length up to 2 inches
  • Usually begins buzzing once temperature reaches 70°F

Scissors-grinder Cicada (Tibicen auletes)

Cicada exoskeleton

  • Status: infrequently heard in Arb and across campus late June to late September, most often around midday, exoskeletons frequently found on tree trunks and wooden structures
  • Habitat: woodlands, forested areas, open areas with trees
  • Voice is a loud buzz that alternates up and down in pitch such that it sounds like a saw grinding, lasts up to 5 minutes
  • Length up to 2 inches
  • Usually begins buzzing once temperature reaches 80°F

Crickets, Grasshoppers, and Katydids

Bush Katydid (Scudderia sp.)

Bush Katydid

  • Status: infrequently seen on plants in Arb and elsewhere across campus, frequently heard at night
  • Habitat: gardens, shrubby areas
  • Voice is a loud series of short click-like buzzes repeated several times
  • Length up to 3 inches
  • Similar to grasshoppers in appearance, katydids are more closely related to crickets

Carolina Grasshopper (Dissosteira carolina) L.

Carolina Grasshopper

  • Status: commonly seen in Arb along trails and in open areas
  • Habitat: grasslands, open areas, disturbed areas
  • Length up to 3 inches
  • Cryptically colored at rest, this species reveals dark blue wings outlined in yellow when in flight

Bees and Wasps

Western Honeybee (Apis mellifera) L.

Honeybee

  • Status: commonly seen nectaring in gardens of Interpretive Center early May to mid-October
  • Habitat: gardens, suburban areas, anywhere near flowers
  • Length up to ½ inch
  • Originally native to Europe, Asia, and Africa

Bumblebee (Bombus sp.)

Bumblebee

  • Status: commonly seen nectaring in gardens of Interpretive Center early May to mid-October
  • Habitat: gardens, suburban areas, anywhere near flowers
  • Length up to ¾ inch
  • Both bumblebees and honeybees are important pollinators of crops and wildflowers

Downy Yellowjacket (Vespula flavopilosa)

Transition Yellowjacket

  • Status: infrequently seen in gardens of Interpretive Center early May to early October
  • Habitat: gardens, suburban areas, anywhere near flowers
  • Length up to ½ inch
  • Like all yellowjackets, this species is a classic “picnic pest,” attracted to both sweets and meaty foods

Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus)

Great Golden Digger Wasp

  • Status: seen in small numbers around gardens of Interpretive Center early May to early October
  • Habitat: gardens, suburban areas, anywhere near flowers
  • Length up to 2 inches
  • A solitary rather than colonial wasp, this species feeds on crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids

Great Black Wasp (Sphex pennsylvanicus)

Great Black Wasp

  • Status: commonly seen nectaring in gardens of Interpretive Center early May to mid-October
  • Habitat: gardens, suburban areas, anywhere near flowers
  • Length up to 2 inches
  • While other wasps generally nest up high and in trees, this species nests in holes in the ground