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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

    Arb Notes

    <b still looks pretty brown, but given time to romp around their are fascinating tid-bits cached all over. On one of our recent expeditions, led by Myles Bakke, the naturalists took to the woods and prairie to look for animal sign of all sorts. The meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus, which, fun fact, are what most people think of as field mice) are out and about, or at least the patterns of chewed grass tell us they are. In grassy patches you can see where they’ve cut long stems of grass off at the base, and left little hollow patches. Meadow voles are kind of like the Thompson’s Gazelle of the Arboretum, in that all predators consider them a tasty treat. You can often find their bones in raptor (both hawk and owl) pellets. Good places to go pellet searching are at the base of the nest boxes or big posts out on the prairie. The birds like to use the top as a slaughtering block. Often blood or even pieces of gut can be found on top, or decorating the surrounding tall grasses. One interesting find was the ovipositor of an ichneumonid wasp. The ichneumonid wasps are quite large and reproduce by drilling a hole into solid wood with their ovipositors (One of the ovipositors we saw was at least two inches long, and that was just the part sticking out of the tree!) and lay their eggs near the larvae of another insects, which the wasp larvae will then feed off of before emerging as an adult wasp. The ovipositors are occasionally left behind, when, it is thought, that a bird comes down to snatch the female wasp while she is otherwise occupied. The ovipositors can be found in large snags riddled with holes (caused by other insects or birds, not the ichneumonid).

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