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  • Bumper crop of mosquitoes, but not West-Nile Virus, yet

    According to INHS Medical Entomology Director Ephantus Juma Muturi, despite the large number of mosquitoes out now, the level of West-Nile Virus is still very low. The optimal breeding environment for West-Nile Virus bearing mosquitoes is dry, warmer weather, when the larvae are not washed away by heavy rains.

  • Butterflies of Illinois field guide is now available from University of Illinois Press

  • Camera-trap study captures Sumatran tigers, clouded leopards, other rare beasts

    Scientists deployed motion-sensitive camera traps across a 50-square-mile swath of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in southern Sumatra and, over the course of eight years, recorded the haunts and habits of dozens of species, including the Sumatran tiger and other rare and endangered wildlife. Their observations offer insight into how abundant these species are and show how smaller creatures avoid being eaten by tigers and other carnivores.

  • Camera trap study reveals the hidden lives of island carnivores

  • Canaries in the Catbird gets "Honorable Mention" in Green Book Festival

    The Green Book Festival is an annual competition honoring books that contribute to greater understanding, respect for and positive action on the changing worldwide environment. INHS publication "Canaries in the Catbird Seat: The Past, Present, and Future of Biological Resources in a Changing Environment" received an Honorable Mention in the 2011 festival. Published in celebration of our 150th anniversary, this book summarizes the important work done by INHS scientists over the years and integrate that with the work done by scientists elsewhere. Written in language accessible to the broad audience of citizens interested in our shared natural heritage and in context with the wider scientific community.

  • Canaries in the Catbird Seat now available

    Canaries in the Catbird Seat, the INHS publication celebrating the INHS sesquicentennial, is now available for purchase. INHS Special Publication 30 is 306 pages long, and includes color photographs and graphics. The book is edited by Christopher A. Taylor, John B. Taft and Charles E. Warwick. In celebration of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s 150th anniversary, this book incorporates observations made since 1858 by INHS staff and associates. These accounts are summarized and recounted in the chapters of this volume in a language accessible to the broad audience of citizens interested in our shared natural heritage as well as the wider scientific community. Canaries in the Catbird Seat can be purchased for $30.00 (plus shipping and handling) by calling (217) 244-2161 or emailing

  • Carp play a role in disseminating plant seeds in the Illinois River

  • Casting a net for conservation

    Go Behind the Scenes with graduate research assistant Benjamin Williams as he catches ducks and records data along the Wabash River.

  • Cat disease Toxoplasmosis found in muskrats and minks

    INHS Graduate student Adam Ahlers led a study on the prevalence of Toxoplasmosis, a disease spread by cats. The researchers found antibodies for Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, in 18 of 30 muskrats and 20 of 26 minks tested for the disease in central Illinois.

  • Cats pass disease to wildlife, even in remote areas

    INHS Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiologist Nohra Mateus-Pinilla and graduate students Shannon Fredebaugh recently published a study that found that even in remote parts of a natural area, cats spread disease to wildlife. Their study, Allerton Park in Monticello, does not have bobcats which strongly suggests feral house cats are responsible for spreading the feline dependent Toxoplasma gondii parasite.  Infection by the parasite causes neurological problems and possible death in humans and other animals. "If one infected cat defecates there, any area can become infected," Fredebaugh said. "It just takes one cat to bring disease to an area."

  • Cave microbe produces compound that inhibits the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome

    A new study from INHS Mycologist Andrew Miller and grad student Daniel Raudabaugh has found that the yeast Candida albicans produces a compound: trans, trans-farnesol, that inhibits growth of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats.

  • Champaign County confirms West Nile in samples

    Richard Lampman, an INHS entomologist, was interviewed by the Daily Illini about West Nile's appearance in Champaign County. Lampman said that this summer's hot, dry weather was perfect for the spread of mosquitoes.

  • Champaign Couunty mosquito sample tests positive for West Nile Virus

    Mosquito samples taken during the month of June have tested positive for the West Nile Virus (WNV). The samples were collected and processed by the Illinois Natural History Survey's medical entomology program, headed by Dr. Barry Alto. Interestingly, this is the first positive sample for WNV since October 2007. Since surveillance started this year in May, positive samples for WNV has been found in eight other counties throughout Illinois, including: Adams, Bureau, Cook, DuPage, Knox, LaSalle, Madison and St. Clair counties. The News-Gazette ran an article about the WNV sample in the July 8, 2009 edition. The article was titled, "Champaign mosquito sample tests positive for West Nile."

  • Chinese researchers visit INHS field station

    Dr. John Chick, Director of INHS' Great Rivers Field Station, spent the first part of August with Yangtze River researchers. Chick first met the researchers while visiting China last year. The Chinese researchers were particularly interested in learning about the methodology and techniques used in the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program on the Upper Mississippi River. A long-term goal of these exchanges is to have comparable monitoring programs set up on large rivers around the globe, which would provide an excellent opportunity to advance both the scientific understanding and management of large rivers.

    In addition, both Chinese and American researchers at the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center were interested in learning about Asian carp habitat. The Asian carp is native China, but invasive in the United States. To read more about this exchange, please read the August 7th article in the Belleville News-Democrat entitled, "Chinese Scientists Studying in Area."

  • Chris Phillips interviewed about venomous snakes

    INHS Herpetologist Chris Phillips was interviewed by the News Gazette in response to a reader's question "Are there any reports of venomous snakes and snakebites in Champaign County in the last 10 years? Last 100 years?” More information on INHS research on Massasaugas

  • Chris Phillips on WCIA Morning Show

    Ever wonder why the Illinois Natural History Survey keeps jars, shelves and cabinets of dead animals, plants and fungus? Are you wondering what reptiles and amphibians make good Christmas presents? (NOTE: Always make sure that the person receiving the gift really wants a pet and is able to make the commitment to care for it properly.) INHS Herpetologist Chris Phillips did two spots on the "In the Garden" segment with Sandy Mason on the WCIA morning show: Inside the INHS Herpetology Collection and Reptiles as Pets.

  • Chronic wasting disease in Illinois: resources and disease dynamics

    Protecting the deer herd from chronic wasting disease has economical value to the State of Illinois, recreational value to deer hunters, and a health value for CWD-susceptible animals. Currently, there is no treatment or vaccination against CWD. Management based on removal of infected deer in areas where disease is present is the only known strategy to control the spread of CWD.

  • Citizen scientist mussel survey finds 14 species

    INHS Field Biologist Sarah Bales accompanied a group to survey mussels at Lake of the Woods. The group of citizen scientists found 314 individual mussels of 14 native and one introduced species. According to Bales, only one species that was previously found there was not found by this group, and that species is rare. She also said that the range of sizes found indicates the mussels are reproducing and that the habitat had not been degraded significantly.

  • 'Citizen scientists' help track foxes, coyotes in urban areas

    As foxes and coyotes adapt to urban landscapes, the potential for encounters with humans necessarily goes up. A team of scientists is taking advantage of this fact to enlist the eyeballs and fingertips of humans – getting them to report online what they see in their own neighborhoods and parks.

  • Citizen scientists invited to participate in bioblitz

    INHS scientists will be participating in a Bioblitz organized by The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) at Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin and Hopper Lakes in Putnam County on June 13-14. Citizen scientists are invited to help document all of the flora, fauna, and fungi of the area over the course of 24 hours.

  • Coming back strong: Illinois Bald Eagle populations on the rise

    Bald Eagle populations in Illinois are on the rise. In 1980, Bald Eagles were found breeding only in extreme Southern Illinois, but in surveys during 2008, nesting pairs were found in 67 Illinois counties. Part of the increase is attributed to the ban of DDT in 1972, but according to INHS Ornithologist Mike Ward, that was just the beginning. Environmental regulations have led to cleaner waterways (enabling eagles to more easily catch fish) and eagles have become more comfortable around humans. Being able to be near people gives them a lot more places to breed in Illinois, Ward said.

  • Conservation efforts help some rare birds more than others, study finds

  • Conservation efforts work to improve migratory bird habitat

    INHS Ornithologist TJ Benson was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article about migratory birds and bird habitat restoration projects in the Chicagoland area. Benson says that there has been a decrease in shrub land birds over the past century and that studies are currently being done with miniature video cameras to document predation on these birds.

  • Conservation Maven discusses Dr. Jeff Matthews' paper

    Conservation Maven, a website for the conservation community, ran a post discussing a recent paper entitled, "Rate of succession in restored wetlands and the role of site context," co-authored by Dr. Matthews, INHS wetland plant ecologist, and Dr. Anton Endress, INHS affiliate. Conservation Maven writes that the paper will have implications for the Clean Water Act as all the wetlands used in the study were restored to comply with section 404 of the CWA.

  • Contaminated sediments affecting wetland mice

    Jeff Levengood and Ed Heske recently published an article entitled "Heavy metal exposure, reproductive activity, and demographic patterns in white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) inhabiting a contaminated floodplain wetland" in Volume 389, Issues 2-3 of Science of the Total Environment.The article discusses the effects of using contaminated sediments from Lake DePue, Illinois to create a wetland that is home to white-footed mice. View the Science of the Total Environment article at ScienceDirect. Accessible through subscription only.

  • Cornboy vs. the Billion-Dollar Bug

    There is, despite the name, nothing urban about Piper City, Ill. It is a farm town with a skyline of grain elevators, a tidy grid of pitch-roofed houses and, a few blocks beyond, endless fields: corn, soybean, corn, soybean, corn, corn, corn, perfectly level, perfectly square, no trees, no cows, no hedgerows, no bare land. In late August of 2013, a man named Joseph Spencer followed a corn-flanked county road northwest from Piper City until his GPS advised him to leave the road altogether and turn onto a gravel track. Spencer, an entomologist who studies farm insects, was looking for a farmer named Scott Wyllie.

  • Corn rootworm management webinar

    INHS Behavioral Entomologist Joe Spencer presented a talk on "Rootworm Biology and Behavior" in the webinar "Corn rootworm Management in the Transgenic Era." Over 300 people attended this webinar, archived at the link below.

  • Corn rootworm on the rebound?

    After a couple of years with low levels of damage from Western Corn Rootworms, INHS Insect Behaviorist Joe Spencer and his colleagues have found significant damage to roots and a higher level of adult emergence compared to last year. For more information, visit

  • Could Asian carp be competing for food with eagles?

    INHS Scientists Dr. Gregg Sass and Dr. John Chick were interviewed by Chris Young for an article that questions the cause of the decline of the Bald eagle, and other birds, at the Starved Rock Lock and Dam. One of the possible contributors to the decline may be due to the presence of Asian carp.

  • Cowbirds aren't just deadbeat parents

    A new study from INHS graduate student Matthew Louder, and INHS Ornithologists Wendy Schelsky, Jeff Hoover, and Amber Albores found that female cowbirds monitor nest success of their offspring and will lay their eggs in the most successful host nests. This, combined with previous work by Jeff Hoover and colleagues, shows that female cowbirds aren't just abandoning their eggs in a host nest. Nests that fledged cowbirds were much more likely to be parasitized by cowbirds again than those that failed to fledge cowbirds.

  • Cowbirds change their eggs’ sex ratio based on breeding time

    Brown-headed cowbirds show a bias in the sex ratio of their offspring depending on the time of the breeding season, researchers report in a new study. More female than male offspring hatch early in the breeding season in May, and more male hatchlings emerge in July.

  • Crows are back, but West Nile Virus here to stay

    During the years following the discovery of West Nile Virus in Illinois, Crow populations dropped from 300,000 to 110,000 birds. According to INHS Ornithologist Mike Ward, crows were highly susceptible to West Nile Virus, possibly because of their specialized immune systems and social lifestyle.  The cause of the rebound is not fully understood, but Ward stated that antibodies to fight off the virus have been discovered recently. Wet conditions during the summer may have also decresed breeding of the mosquito species that carries West Nile Virus.

  • Culling maintains low prevalence of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer populations

    INHS Wildlife Epidemiologist Nohra Mateus-Pinilla and postdoctoral researchers Mary Beth Manjerovic and Michelle Green conducted research on the effectiveness of culling deer to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is a 100% fatal disease in deer, likened to Mad Cow Disease. Their paper compared the culling strategy used in Illinois to the two different management strategies used in Wisconsin over a decade. Listen to the interview on Focus 580.

  • Cuts to Great Lakes Restoration funding cause worry

    Recently, the federal budget for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was cut. This long-range Great Lakes cleanup program provides money for habitat restoration, protection from invasive species, as well as the clean up of polluted areas of the Great Lakes. Wayne A. Brofka, a biologist at the INHS Lake Michigan Biological Station, pointed out that if the water of the Great Lakes is cleaned up, the fish would be safer to eat. Currently there are advisories for consumption of certain species of fish with high levels of contaminants.

  • Danville, crow capital of the world

    INHS Ornithologist Steve Bailey told the Chicago Tribune that Danville has "the largest winter roost of crows that we know about in the U.S. and Canada." Christmas Bird Counts found 121,500 crows, whereas a year ago, the count was 238,000. INHS Affiliate Mike Ward added that the drought caused a resurgence of West Nile virus, to which crows are particularly vulnerable. Crows rebound well, which might be bad news for the residents of Danville who have unsuccessfully tried many things including trucks with a "cannon" booming to scare the birds.

  • Decline in waterfowl documented in Pool 19

    The Evansville Courier & Press (IN) published an article by Phil Potter on 2 November 2008 that discusses the decline in bird numbers in Pool 19 of the Mississippi River. 1958 data collected by the Illinois Natural History Survey recorded 465,200 lesser scaup visiting Pool 19, while 2001 data collected by the Illinois Natural History Survey recorded 55,53 lesser scaup. To learn more, visit the Newsbank article, "Not as many birds as in the past are landing in Pool 19."

  • Deer ticks more adaptable than previously known

    Deer ticks, the host species for Lyme disease, feed on a variety of animals, with white footed mice (a forest species) as the main reservoir for the disease causing bacteria. INHS Wildlife Epidemiologist Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, graduate student Jennifer Rydzewski and Richard Warner (NRES) found that the highest prevalence of infection at Allerton Park was from the prairie, with prairie voles as the reservoir. "What's exciting about the new findings is that we are dealing with potentially new mechanisms of disease transmission that we just have not explored and perhaps we do not understand," Mateus-Pinilla said. "We need to think outside of what we already know about Lyme disease transmission."

  • DeWalt, Giordano, and Chabot discuss phylogeography of aquatic insects at ESA

    Drs. R. Edward DeWalt and Rosanna Giordano and graduate student Ember Chabot presented their research on the phylogeography of two species of stoneflies (Insecta: Plecoptera) at the December annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America, Indianapolis, IN. Central TN & KY and the AR & MO Ozarks both served as refugia for these species, with TN & KY contributing most to repopulation of the North. More work is underway to determine routes of dispersal, if other refugia were used, and to determine if these patterns hold for other species.

  • Digitization efforts make wealth of INHS collections more accessible

    INHS is home to over 9 million biological specimens, including plants, insects, fish, reptiles, and fossils. Learn how we're digitizing these specimens to make them accessible to everyone.

  • Digitization of biological collections will make fragile specimens more accessible for study

    The biological collections of the Illinois Natural History Survey are among the largest in the nation, with nearly 10 million specimens collected over the past 150 years. These collections document our natural heritage and can be studied to understand variations within and between species, changes over time, and countless other topics. Many of the specimens are fragile and must be stored and handled with extreme care. As part of a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation, researchers at INHS are working with several other institutions to digitize collections, taking high resolution images from a variety of angles. Scientists from around the world will be able to see the images of the specimens and physically handle only the ones that they need for closer examination. For more information on the invertebrate side of the project, check out the InvertNet website.

  • Digitization Project Finds Anthrax Samples in Collections

  • Digitization Projects Make Nature Collections Available to Everyone

    Extinct feather lice, invasive fish from the Great Lakes, and rare plants from Pakistan are a few of the millions of species no longer viewed just in dark academic warehouses and museums. Curators at the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) who have helped to preserve these biological specimens are digitizing them for anyone who is interested in science to view them online.

  • Dinosaurs may have had lice

    A recent article in Biology Letters, authored by INHS Ornithologist Kevin Johnson and his colleagues Vincent Smith, Tom Ford, Paul Johnson, Kazunori Yoshizawa, and Jessica Light, reveals that the ancestors of the lice found on modern day birds and mammals began to diversify prior to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs at the Cretaceous–Palaeogene boundary, 65 million years ago.

  • Disease-carrying coastal tick established in Illinois

    Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey and Southern Illinois University have new evidence of the Gulf Coast tick becoming established in Illinois. They also have found that it often harbors a pathogen that can make people sick. 

  • Dogs find turtles that researchers can't

    This past week INHS Herpetologist Chris Phillips enlisted the help of a team of 8 dogs to locate box turtles as part of a long term population study. The dogs, Boykin Spaniels, and their handler, John Rucker have helped researchers across the country locate box turtles. The study in Illinois is a collaborative effort between the INHS and the U of I College of Veterinary Medicine to monitor the health and ecology of the box turtle populations in an effort to conserve this species. Their small size, high energy, keen sense of smell and ability to fight through thorns enabled the dogs to out-turtle the humans 42 to 4 this week. They will return in June.

  • Double the traps, double the turkeys

  • Dr. Alto's research subject of Illinois' news release

    Dr. Barry Alto, Director of the Medical Entomology Program at the Illinois Natural History Survey, has recently published an article in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Animal Ecology. This paper is the subject of a news release by the University of Illinois.

  • Dr. Ed Heske discusses beaver behavior

    In an article entitled "BUSY WORK - Meadowbrook now has two beaver dams across McCullough Creek" published in the News-Gazette on November 22, 2009, Ed Heske sheds light on local beaver behavior. In the article, Dr. Heske explains why beavers build dams and why they are more active during the fall. The entire text of the article can be found at the NewsBank site for the article: BUSY WORK - Meadowbrook now has two beaver dams across McCullough Creek.

  • Dr. Heads blogs as part of UK National Insect Week

    The Illinois Natural History Survey's insect systematist, Dr. Sam Heads, has been asked by the Royal Entomological Society to keep a blog as part of the UK National Insect Week. This is an outreach project aimed at raising the profile of entomology.

  • Dr. Hoover's research on "Retaliatory mafia behavior by a parasitic cowbird favors host" featured in PNAS