Naturalists Afield

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  • Mole salamanders in Illinois

  • Tracks in the Snow: Part 2

  • Tracks in the Snow: Part 1

  • Woodpeckers in Illinois

  • Butterflies on the wing in November

  • Waterfowl in Illinois: Part 1

  • Owls in Illinois

  • Prairie grasses in Illinois

    A prairie is a largely treeless grassland dominated by grasses and forbs (herbaceous flowering plants). Prairies were once widespread in Illinois, but are now relegated to only a few thousand acres scattered across the state. Even though vanishingly rare, prairie is often very diverse, with upwards of 500 species of plants. Here are some of the grass species that can be found in Illinois prairies.

  • 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.

  • 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.