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Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) on bracken fern / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) on bracken fern / © Bryan Pfeiffer

TICK NUMBER 26 made her fatal move while I was eating broasted chicken (whatever that is) and drinking a Bud at the Back Door Cafe in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. She tried to get better purchase near my right arm pit. I “disengaged” and tossed her out the front door. That was the first of four trips to the door during supper with my pal and colleague Mike Blust (not-so-recently back from his Peace Corps gig in Mexico*).

By my rough count, I picked up 32 ticks getting these two photos yesterday: 10 found as we walked a shrubby pine barrens with purple lupine in flower, 10 more back at the truck after, 5 during the drive from Eau Claire to Ladysmith (those went tumbling along Wisconsin highways), 4 during supper, and 3 at the campground last night.

But ticks are well worth the federally endangered Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) and the globally restricted Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle (Cicindela patruela). Residential and commercial development in these oak-pine barrens puts both these species at risk. Grazing and prevention of natural fire regimes factor in as well, and perhaps off-road vehicles in the case of the tiger beetle. These insects were among highlights on a day when cold temperatures and overcast skies kept dragonflies from taking flight in a big way.

I’d write more, but I’m rushing off for the first official day of the DSA meeting here in Ladysmith. So check out those two links above about each insect. Meanwhile, I’ll keep you posted on the running tick total. (It brings back fond memories of the ticks I picked up – and picked off in the tent each night – while photographing Regal Fritillaries in Missouri. About Regal Fritillary I have written: “…an animal so pleasing that when you see it taking nectar from a purple coneflower you might decide to quit your job, sell your home and become a lepidopterist.”)

Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle (Cicindela patruela) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle (Cicindela patruela) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

* Mike worked to promote sustainability in edible insects populations in a Mexican village. More on that in another blog post.

  1. Sue says:

    Having Lyme I have to say this blog triggered me. Best wishes to you…

  2. Beautiful, Bryan! I managed to pick up a deer tick in my back yard, weeding! Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park, north of Saratoga Springs, New York, is growing Blue Lupine, to provide habitat for Karner Blues. I managed to get some photos of this year’s first hatch, puddling, on June 1, 2014.

    The Lady’s Slippers were in bloom, too, which was a special treat!

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