Summertime in the outdoors

Mosquitos

Earlier this week, I went into my backyard about 90 minutes before sunset. Thanks to the mosquitos (and other flying insects), I lasted about a minute! This was the worst I’d seen the mosquitos all summer. So, I tried to figure out WHY there were so many of them. My theory: a whole bunch of mosquito eggs were laid in the aftermath of storms that dumped 2.79 inches of rain on Madison on July 21 and caused flooding around the city. Maybe those mosquitos were now mature and looking for blood. As I related this theory to a colleague, I realized I could look up information on a mosquito’s life cycle. Lo and behold, one of my first results was from the federal government, the Environmental Protection Agency to be exact. Its website on Mosquito Control includes a page on the Mosquito Life Cycle. Given the life cycle of the mosquito, it’s possible my theory is correct, though I’m not sure I’ve had enough standing water in my backyard to hatch many mosquitos.

When discussing government publications about mosquitos, I feel it’s my duty to mention Dr. Seuss’s contribution to the “genre,” a pamphlet entitled This Is Ann: She’s Dying to Meet You. You can learn more about this publication from an April 12, 2012 post by Erin Rushing on the Smithsonian Libraries blog Unbound.

Wisconsin Outdoor Report

On a more pleasant note, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issues an Outdoor Report each Thursday. There’s a general report, followed by five regional reports, for Northern, Northeast, Southeast, South Central, and West Central Wisconsin. The reports tend to be heavy on fishing news, at least in the spring and summer, but do include some information on bug populations, plant life, and general water conditions. In the fall, these reports have information on the state of fall foliage.

National Park Service Centennial

August 25, 2016, marks the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service. In Wisconsin, there’s a John Muir Centennial Event on August 6, at the Ice Age National Scenic Trail at John Muir County Park in Marquette County (about seven miles south of Montello. Registration is required to attend the festival, which will feature a children’s art exhibit, workshops, hikes and poetry recitation by Wisconsin State Poet Laureate. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail passes through this park.

Beth Harper, Government information/reference librarian, Memorial Library, UW-Madison

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Did you spot any snowy owls during the Christmas bird count?

The winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 saw an unusually large number of snowy owls coming through Wisconsin.  What about this year?  Check out the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources’s page on snowy owls:

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/SnowyOwls.html

(A co-worker of mine, who is an Audobon Field Trips coordinator and leader, strongly recommends paying special attention to the “Viewing Considerations” tab.)

In November the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted “8 Fascinating Facts About Snowy Owls:”

http://www.fws.gov/news/blog/index.cfm/2015/11/23/8-Fascinating-Facts-About-SnowyOwls

And the Christmas Bird Count?  It’s not a government thing; it’s an Audobon Society thing (though quite a few counts take place on government refuges.  You can read about the history here.

Beth Harper
Government information reference librarian
Memorial Library, UW-Madison