Naturalists Afield

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Enjoy this collection of natural history stories, images, and videos captured by Illinois Natural History Survey scientists while visiting natural areas around the state.

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  • Cottonwood Borer

  • Monarch magic

  • Turkey Tango

  • Trapping a state-threatened turtle

  • Stink bug babies

  • Skimmer dragonflies in Illinois

    Here are nine of Illinois' many skimmer dragonfly species. Skimmers have large eyes that meet in the center of the head, and many species have distinctive markings on their wings. Look for these beauties around the edges of still waters.

  • "Punctuation" butterflies in Illinois

    To kick off the school year, here are Illinois' common "punctuation" butterflies—the Question Mark, Comma, and Gray Comma. These butterflies have distinctive silver marks on the underside of their hindwings. Look for a crescent and dot on the Question Mark, a c-shaped mark on the Comma, and an L-shaped mark on the Gray Comma.

  • Field of butterflies

  • Illinois milkweeds

    Illinois is home to many milkweed species. Here are 9 of them!

  • Swallowtail butterflies in Illinois

    Swallowtails are the largest butterflies in Illinois. These beautiful insects are easily identified by their large size and hindwing tails, which are reminiscent of the forked tails of swallows. Swallowtails are welcome visitors to flower gardens—they are adept pollinators for a number of herbs, shrubs, and trees.

  • Illinois silkmoths

    Illinois is home to a number of large moths known as imperial moths or silkmoths. These moths are mostly nocturnal insects of forests, so they're not observed as much as their relatives that are active during the day—butterflies and skippers. However, silkmoths can occasionally be spotted around lights in the evening. Here's a short video featuring nine of these nocturnal beauties.

  • Pileated Woodpecker sibling rivalry