Field Notes

Steve Gerrish

Making national headlines, the 17-year cicadas were making a ruckus throughout eastern parts of the US leaving me to wonder, why don’t we see cicada swarms in the Northwoods of Wisconsin?

Cicadas have a limited and mostly eastern distribution in the United States, reaching as far north as New York state, down to Louisiana and Georgia in the south and barely extending into Kansas and Oklahoma in the west. They hatch on 13- or 17-year cycles and specific cohorts, which are also known as broods, hatch in offset years.

Here is an old story and a new story.  Unfortunately, both involve the death of some of our favorite birds because of complications resulting from aquatic invasive species.

I spent most of my life not knowing that porcupines could climb trees. While I am a little embarrassed to admit this fact, I am also not sure I spent a ton of time in my younger years thinking about it. Now that I know, I have become obsessed with staring toward the tops of trees trying to find a bound-up ball of quills, nested in the highest branches.

Botanizing by Bike

Mar 16, 2021

As we move from winter toward spring, (a little sooner than I would have liked) I am getting excited to start biking around the Northwoods. I spend quite a bit of time road biking, which is not always compatible with one of my other favorite pastimes, looking for flowering plants. By early summer, my bike group and I will be logging 50 or more miles at a time, and there is plenty of Northwoods plant life to appreciate from a bike. We mostly ride on county and town roads out of town, so we aren’t likely to see the showy Forsythia, lilac or crab apples favored by homeowners.

Using Wood as Fuel

Feb 9, 2021
Scott Bowe

Humans have used wood as fuel for millennia. It has been used for cooking, heating, and more recently power production. I thought this topic would be timely given that we are experiencing our first real cold snap of 2021. In fact, I’ve had our wood stove burning all weekend – enjoying the fire inside while looking out our frosty windows.

Last summer, COVID-19 pushed more people outside and onto Northern Wisconsin’s lakes. For this month's Field Notes, Susan Knight tried to take the pulse of how residents felt about increased boat activity on our area lakes.

Joe Giersch, USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center

Walking from my truck into work last week, I noticed a frail looking insect flitting along the surface of the snow on the trail in front of me. On closer inspection, it was a stonefly. Stoneflies are small insects that live most of their lives in streams and rivers, emerging only to complete their reproductive life cycle. Like stone flies, many aquatic insects, including many flies, mosquitos, dragon flies and damselflies have a life cycle that is partly in water and partly above water. But, most of these species emerge and take flight in spring and early summer.

Sugar In Trees

Nov 10, 2020
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In this month's installment of Field Notes Scott Bowe of Kemp Station discusses sugar in trees, how Mother Nature makes trees and plant with simple sugars.

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For this month's Field Notes, Susan Knight explores the ecology of Indian Pipe, spooky looking white plants that skip photosynthesis and steal sugar from their forest neighbors.

As air temperatures in fall fluctuate between freezing at night and sunny 70 degree days, many deeper lakes within the region experience a phenomenon known as turnover. Journeying into the science of fall turnover can lead you into a wide berth of topics including physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, and biology. While complex and varied across systems, fall turnover influences how we use and interact with our beloved regional lakes.

Scott Bowe

In this month's installment of Field Notes, Scott Bowe of Kemp Station discusses bees in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

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For this month’s Field Notes, Susan Knight of UW-Madison’s Trout Lake Station shares three stories about strange lakes from around the world.

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Have you ever seen a bee emerging from a hole in the ground in the spring? There are many ground nesting bee species in Wisconsin and for this month's Field Notes, Gretchen Gerrish tells us more.

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For this month’s Field Notes, Susan Knight talks about the elegant , but short-lived mayflies common in our lakes and streams.

Scott Bowe

In this month's installment of Field Notes, Scott Bowe of Kemp Station discusses how maple trees produce sap for real maple syrup.