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Ilze V-G., Contributor
Full name:
Ilze V-G.
City, state, country:
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

I have always been a mesmerized insect watcher -amazing lives, such transformations! What would we do without them?

I feel privileged to have seen a dragonfly crawl out of a lake, pop out of its "water bug" exoskeleton, dry its wings in the sun, then soar to the sky to gobble at the nuisance mosquitoes that pain us all. Caterpillars, what a variety of adults they become! Moths, there is nothing drab about them, what an incredible variety of shapes and sizes, wonderful patterns, and amazing colours !!!!

When my camera and an insect are about, I cannot help but become a "shutter bug"! I like to get my lens an inch or two away from my subjects, next I want to learn more about them, hence this site and bug books! {I find it frustrating that there are few books that show the larva as well as an adult on one page!}.

From 2001-2014, I avidly captured images of insects on the shores of Fairbank Lake, Ontario. Since my daily life was computer bound, I treasured the times I could be out and about! Now my focus is around Sudbury and McFarlane Lake.

I have a keen interest in the natural world. Half a century ago, Ontario was alive with insects and wildlife, spotting Monarchs and praying Mantids was expected. Could we have imagined that there would be such a drastic decline in insect populations? The survival of almost all life on earth, of vertebrates (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians), of invertebrates (insects, crustaceans, mollusks…) and plants depends on insects.

Today I aim my lens at everyday life, capturing “moments” in this ever changing world. Photographers Ansel Adams (1902-1984), environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand (1946-) and Edward Burtynsky (1955-) inspire me to continue capturing images of what resides in nature and the city around me as the changing climate and our actions threaten what is.

I thank John Acorn for recommending this site to me after a presentation he had at Science North in 2010!

Please do “frass” any images I post that do not contribute to this wonderfully useful guide. And thank you to Everyone who adds comments, and helps identify the insects I snap!

Ilze Villers-Golde

(Note that i hope that my images, that has accepted over the years, remain on the site and with the university in the event of my passing.)

Bee in November 2022

2012 _October 10 _It is fall in Northern Ontario. The bright oranges, yellows and reds have already turned to maroon, rust and ochre, leaves are now falling, many trees already bare. Overall, this summer has been one of few insect sightings. Is it climate change or due to the many traps that people set out to alleviate the pain of mosquito bites and the annoyance of wasps. Note also that bats and frogs at Fairbank Lake have been noticeably fewer or absent compared to 10 years ago (though at Misery Bay I did see a few bats)...this may be due to construction and associated loss of habitat or has the fungus that began plaguing bat caves in the States a few years ago reached us as well?; Thurs.Oct.11, Mon. the 15th _Huge wet flakes of snow fell, they melted as they hit ground but, on the 15th they were accumulating on cooler objects! (This is too early, to my recollection, in the past 25 years, snow flakes had not fallen earlier than Oct 30th.) Luckily it flaked only a few hours, and we may still have the proverbial "Indian summer"! I hope!... Nov 4th we shut the water system down at the lake the next day temperatures were to drop to -8C. Heard from family that overnight Nov.22-23,Toronto(Bathurst & St.Clair neighbourhood)had their first frost of this season.

2013 _February 22 _There is deep snow covering the Greater City of Sudbury, 60 plus centimeters. It had been a white and cold winter (snow, ice rain, rain). A real winter as we had not seen for several years...Water levels will most likely be up this spring as runoff should fill lakes, streams, ponds, etc...The last two summers many marshes were very dry... (note that there would me more snow accumulated by now if we had not had rain a few weeks ago that melted away at least 20 cm of it in a few hours,causing flooding.); Feb 24th _The snow at Fairbank Lake is more than 65 cm deep, the day is overcast and hovering around 0 C. The footsteps Peter and I left behind quickly filled with tiny near invisible jumping specks that I can only assume were snow insects (fleas?) of some sort_too small for my eyes and camera to ID.

March 21 _Spring arrived yesterday, though the days are longer and the sun brighter, it is still cold -7 C at 11 am, and snowflakes are falling. The ground is snow-covered, the wind cold, humidity 80% at the moment. The lakes are beginning to open up at the edges yet there remains much ice and snow, at least 30-40 cm deep in most yards, to yet melt away. Though on sun drenched hillsides the snow has melted, on the shaded sides cliffs still are laden with ice flow!

April 28 _Hixon's Bay is still white with ice. For the first time this year weekend temperatures reached plus 20 C. The snow is gone except for where it had been shoveled into piles. Insects have awoken: a mourning cloak butterfly was flitting around as were a wasp, bee, many spiders, a 2.3cm beige grasshopper jumping among old leaves by the septic and a fuzzy short black caterpillar was alive in my shed! Summer is finally on its way despite the cold breeze from the lake! I heard that on the Eastern shores of the lake it may be more ice free as someone had visited their camp by boat. The water level is higher than we have seen in years due to the winter melt and few rainy days around April 18th! In town Ramsey lake became almost totally ice free this week end! ; I understand from the news that water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan are down 25 cm, speculation is that this is due to global warming and lake water evaporation and because the shores of the St Clair River are eroding and the water there is rapid?

May 12_It snowed all day at Fairbank Lake (further North, Timmins and area received about 30cm!),here however it was a wet snow that only remained on the coolest of things and spider webs...The temperature was plus 1 Celsius all day. Insects were not in motion but could be found under loose birch bark and in crevices as well as in dry warmer locations...(ice was out on Fairbanks sometime around May the 5th, water level is high, at least a foot or more higher than in other springs...locals say they recall such high water maybe 3 decades ago...); May 18-22 _Black-flies are out across the City of Greater Sudbury, it has been a rainy week and some are reporting mosquitoes as well. (Many prayers go out to the US Oklahoma City area that was devastated by a 300km wind tornado this week).; May 24_It is 1 Celsius the sun is trying to peek out amongst the windblown clouds.

June 3_Fairbank Lake water level is higher than it has been on this date in the past decade! Air temp did not rise above 12C today.; June 9_Misery Bay, Manitoulin Island: Many mosquitoes greeted our arrival. The alvar was wet and Lake Huron's water level has decreased over the past 4 years (yet inland water levels are high? is someone siphoning?). There were no dragonflies or bats to be found?
June 20th_Summer begins tomorrow, spring here has been wet and cold though sunny. CBC news stated yesterday that the water level in Ramsey Lake here in Sudbury is 30cm higher than at this time in many years.... Summer has begun_wet humid and heating up, water levels remain high.

July_We had 2 weeks of hot sunny days up to 34C plus feeling like 40C plus with the humidity. Though I saw some Luna moths, I have seen few varieties of moths larger than an inch or so but many smaller ones (especially liter moths and micro moths) as well as many different spiders (seems like more than any other year). As for caterpillars, there seem to be few only the GYPSY Moth cats are everywhere in great abundance though a noticeable defoliation has not occurred (that I have seen). Water levels have stayed high though they have gone down a few inches. The last 2 weeks of July cooled down with night temperatures to lows of 10C and days not warming much over 22C.

August_was a mix of wet and cold, the lakes cooled down quickly. Then a few hot days then again cold nights and cooler (low 20's days). I still have seen almost no caterpillars, nor butterflies and few insects. Though mosquitoes are still prevalent when the sun hides behind clouds, and as early evening approaches. The end of August has been wet but temperatures are back in the high 20's and it has been humid, lake temp actually did rise a degree or two!
[I heard a CBC radio show stating that bears have vanished around Timmins and Chapleau in northern Ontario, later a woman called in with her theory that they may have drowned in their dens when we had snow melts, freezes, rains and floods....After this I had a confused thought:"Could it be that with water resting on land and freezing and thawing and the unusually high water that remained pooled on the ground well into the year, that larva, cocoon, pupae and insects that stay under leaf refuse and in the ground could have drowned or been buried deeper than they should be? _ hence there seem to be fewer insects this summer?]..Oh I recommend the 2012 IMAX film Flight of the Butterflies, it is about monarch migration.

Sept._Our friends at Misery Bay, Manitoulin Island say they saw many spiders, bees, and miscellaneous insects (no monarchs and few butterflies) in the last two weeks of August! and at Fairbank on the Labour Day week end the lake had surprisingly warmed up to 20C again! All around the Greater City of Sudbury BIRCH LEAVES are dropping, an ugly skelletonized brown and dull yellow...turns out we have tiny caterpillars (Bucculatrix canadensisella perhaps?_approx 1cm, and a transparent yellow green colour) creating this pre-fall leaf drop...their frass is also everywhere...(were these larva of the small brown and white moths we saw so many of earlier this spring?) All of Greater Sudbury is affected...In addition to 2nd year of these tiny caterpillars on mass, these leaves have a fungus (small white spots_"septoria leaf blight"). According to Forest Entomologist at MNR Taylor Scarr (who spoke on CBC Morning North Sept 5th), the insect will overwinter on the fallen leaves bellow the snow.

October 11-15_Four days of promised showers did not come, Environment Canada seems unable to make definite predictions as of late. However I must report that when walking through the already fallen leaves, insects that I am certain were black flies were numerous, annoying and even biting...yes in October? They came out when the temperature soared over 14 Celsius...Just as in September mosquitoes were still out in the Greater City of Sudbury, as well as in Algonquin Provincial Park South East of effect of the so called CLIMATE CHANGE? (note: Tiny polka dotted yellow insects and similar aphid like brown ones were quite numerous, saw a mourning cloak butterfly and some grasshoppers as well. My friends at Misery Bay reported seeing praying mantis, monarchs and bees just last week.). Oct 24th awoke to a sugar coating of snow this morning! Oct 29 it was MINUS SEVEN Celsius overnight now it is sunny but it has not climbed above 0 degrees.

Nov 23-24_There are approx 10cm of snow on the ground,air temp is -15C and the windchill is -27C despite the sun! Nov 29_Ramsey Lake is covered in ice, it does not often look like the smooth surface of a mirror with few ripples, tonight it will snow again_with that solid base of ice, it seems that winter has arrived and is here to stay for the duration, barring any unforeseen warm spell or much rain?!!! If it stays till spring "bugs" will be happy :)

2014 _March 21st and it is SPRING!!! Who could guess most of the greater city of Sudbury is STILL covered in a thick white blanket of snow (2-4 feet depending on how the wind has blown it and of course over the head man made piles) Since the snow started at the end of October it has stayed with little noticeable melt away. It was -12C last night and fresh snow is still expected though as I write the sun is hot on my face and the sky blue with a temp. of 0, the lakes are frozen and snow covered, even the great lakes froze more than they have in many years.... I assume that this has been a great winter for hibernating animals and for many insects. Sadly it was difficult for deer as there was so much snow that many have died of starvation being unable to reach food sources because the snow was too deep and exhausting for them to wade through...
Worry... if the snows do not disappear soon MONARCHS may arrive to find no milkweed sprouts to lay their eggs on...There may be more mosquitoes than there have been but there may also be more frogs as there were no freeze thaw cycles that i am aware of...what does all this mean to the invasive species population? could they survive as well? no idea... questions as we await the weather to catch up to the calendar.
June 17_Water levels remain high in local were a plenty and seemed larger than usual...mosquitoes are out(note that in 2013 there were more than 50 confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus in Ontario. The health unit in Sudbury reported its first and only case of human WNV in 2006).
July_We had several hot days but overall the end of July has arrived with temperatures that are about 8C colder than average. Bees few bees ...thought V&P tell me there were many, as well as monarchs at Misery Bay, Manitoulin.
August_overall Sudbury has been cold, or humid and left us with booming thunder and lightning shows and many mm of rain! Peter and I have our Fairbanks camp for most of my snapping is now at McFarlane Lake, Greater City of Sudbury.
September cold wet...first Frost September 18th then again's still summer on the calendar..morning temperatures those two days -1 and 0 C, windy on the 19th, felt like -5C in the am. According to environment Canada, it was not much colder only .2 degrees over the summer, the big difference was we here in Sudbury had 0 days of temperatures over 30c where the normal is an average of 6 days of over 30C in July/August...
El Niño will control our winter, it will be mild they believe (vs the polar vortex of 2013-2014). Water levels are up to the old "normal" thanks to all the rain. There was NO Smog this last summer (wonderful).
October, why are mosquitoes still around and biting? October 31, Halloween a FOOT of snow fell today, streets were slippery...(note that it melted soon in November).
Christmas eve we had RAIN that froze over night (this followed the ice rain of Dec 23rd.)

2015 January, McFarlane Lake_cold (had -41C windchill Jan 6th air temps around -30 that day), snowy, windy.
September 7th_already, compared to the summer of 2014, 2015 was dry and hot and now it is still hot and humid with few rainy days. In Toronto temperatures often climbed over 30, here I think 32 was the hottest though with humidity it often felt hotter than the thermometer showed. Around Sudbury water levels at first seemed low, but around Manitoulin Island they are higher than last year causing the alvar edges to be submersed and the death of short cedars and shrubs. Insects are not a plenty, but then there are many birds about our home (robins, grackles, orioles, common red-poles, crows, blue jays, sparrows, mourning doves)....
December,snows finally came to stay after the 26th...till then it was relatively warm and green!

2016 April_has been colder than usual (-23 windchill/-13C temp on the am of April 10th). Though there were a few days slightly above 0, we have had several 15 cm or so dumps of snow, the latest on the 6th-7th. It is to warm up to 6C today (11th) and the light snow that fell yesterday may yet again melt to reveal grass where the snow drifts have not remained in the shadows. The strange thing is the wind, we seem to be getting more wind than I ever recall, higher velocity and more sustained gusts...also note these winds are not just predominantly coming from the South West (lakeside), but many seem to be coming from the North as well? The sun is higher in the sky at noon as it no longer lets its rays several feet into the living room as in the winter months. Birds Common Redpoles have returned and with Chickadees are a plenty at my feeders,Blue Jays have vanished and geese can bee seen flying and settling into marshes in the area where waters have been in a continuous freeze melt cycle with the day and night temps fluctuating so much this month.The final visible ice flows vanished on April 30th.
May mostly cool, 4 or so warm over 20C days with some rain and light frost with below zero temps still till May 16th. It should warm up from now on? And so it has, everything is greening in the glorious bright green shades that distinguishes different plants in spring before green turns green...on the 19 the black-flies started to bother and bite.
June has been warm to hot with several close to 0 nights in the first week, but the 18 and 19th were scorchers at a sunny, blue skied 34C, the latter with wind gusts of 50 km/hr.
Summer was altogether sunny, dry and hot, mosquitos around us were hardly any though in the city and in Capreol they were a plenty. Bears were also to be seen all over Greater Sudbury. Fall came with expected rain and much wind, and happily coloured leaves were glorious. It is Dec. 7th, temps have been around zero C (not the usual - 10ns).
late Nov and early Dec, Snow fell but melted. today there is a thin layer of snow remaining on the ground from the three or so inches that fell this week..looks like this year will be a white Christmas (last year it was not) Surprisingly, in late November insects were still to be seen fluttering in the sun.

2017 a second warm winter with swings in temp. There is about two feet of snow. Feb. 19 temperatures broke records, it was a sunny blue skied morning with clouds in the afternoon, temperature was PLUS 6 C. Awoke to -8 the next morning, then rain and warmer. 23 Feb dreary rain, hail and thunder n lightning filled morning, it rained, lightning-thundered all night after a day of dense fog yesterday and just above 0C temps. The lake is glossed over with water.
This is winter??......l..March 2017 roared in with a winter blizzard, we had the tallest snow dump of this winter (almost two feet, blown taller in places). And a cold half month of -34C wind-chills followed...the lake began to make "mumph" sounds and crack mid month. Yet spring has arrived and it is still around 0 daytime, and we have had much wind.p, but also sunnier days than most of Jan and Feb. April 19th ICE was out on McFarlane Lake. Grass needed mowing almost weekly after the first mow on May 13th. July and August were rainy. Mosquitos came out at dusk even in September...(hurricanes Harvey and then Irma down south)....At the end of September local temperatures hit +34.9C on our home thermometer, we had two weeks of dry and October leaves looked like they were just gonna dry up but then they suddenly changed overnight! We were still kayaking in October.
Nov 17 snow fell. In the last two weeks of December a cold spell hit. Temperatures dipped to -35C and wind-chills hovered around -40C even when temps rose to -26C.

2018, Jan 7 : It was -26C overnight but rose to -16C and is snowing. More snow and warmer temps are promised for the rest of the week.
2018 weather recap : cold April; May 4th saw windstorms across Ontario; in July and August "Parry Sound 33" FIRE raged 100km south of Sudbury destroying over 11,000 hectares (there were fires North and to the South East of the city as well;(terrible fires raged in California USA));June was hot and Humid; July 9 Sudbury had a short lasting rain, a DOWN-BURST (a very strong wind that comes down from a thunderstorm and hits the ground spreading outward in all directions) with winds topping over 100 km/hour that took down many trees esp in New Sudbury and Gatchell; Toronto and Ottawa saw flooding;Aug 31st it was over 33C in Sudbury; It was a HOT DRY summer with very few insects to be seen; Sept 17th we had a sprinkling of snow temp was -1C; Sept 21 Tornadoes hit Ottawa and Gatineau Quebec;Snow came before Nov and stayed covering the ground (not the freeze thaw we saw in 2017) We had a lovely white Christmas.

2019 Jan has been COLD with record breaking wind-chills and temps in Sudbury. 28th Jan it was -39 C at 7am and wind-chills were at -49C snow cover of 45cm, the morning misty and the sun painted the sky pale pink!
Winter 2019 Sudbury , Ontario broke a record with Total snow fall over 390cm / 13 feet.
June - was quite wet. On the morning of June the first we still had Frost on our roofs! Winds are noticeably stronger than in the past and also often change the direction they are coming at us from....
July - quite dry with three instances of drenching rain two with thunder and lightning.( One on Jl 13th was localized to NewSudbury, the rain driving horizontally...). I have seen a good variety of insects though none in great numbers. Most nights cooled to around 15C.(Note that there are fires burning in the arctic.)

2020 A winter of average snow fall. Ice of McFarlane Lk April 29th. End of June beginning of July above average temps, ie instead of daytime highs around 24C its been up to 36C feeling like 44C. Dry and sunny. Winds seem stronger and direction varies much. It the yr of Covid 19, perhaps with less vehicular traffic this spring there seem to be more insects about! Still have to search for them, not like in Toronto in the 60s and 70s, when insects seemed to be in greater abundance. — The last two weeks of July have had a few short rainfalls, it has been humid with temps just under 30C. There have been a variety of insects but not multitudes of any and certainly a lack of bees.; Sept to Nov were very wet. December was green except for one snowfall that by Christmas had all but melted.

2021 Jan winter? Warmer that average little snow, little sun; Sunny 19.9C Apr. 7th, the birds loudly rejoicing!, the lake ice very thin, Chipmunks n bears up n about and waterfowl returning! There has been no snow on the ground except in heavy shadows for over a week! It has been dry, promised precipitation keeps passing us by. Ice out on McFarlane Lk Thurs April 8th, Butterflies and other insects are about! Ontario starts a 4 wk covid lockdown.; May cool most nights, days over 20 and up to 30 C. It has been very DRY if there was a drizzle it amounted to nothing.; June was dry and hot until its last week when we had some rain.;July arrived with humidity, mosquitos emerged, and gypsy moths are easily found, though terrible in Southern Ontario they say this 2021.; August scorching and sweltering “feels like” temperatures reached up to 38 C. It was humid with only a few days with rain, mostly drizzle that did not last long here and there. (Aug 29 hurricane Ida hit Louisiana US as a category 4 storm, same day as Katrina 16 yrs earlier…here its was rainy windy hot when the sun shone and a tornado watch was issued for late afternoon eve).

2022: Freeze thaw cycles all winter, not much snow, temperatures with windchill down to -40C, but on our thermometer only -34C. Jan and feb days hovered around -20 ish, March in the -ve teens up to +5 ; June has been rainy, windy, humid, and temps (as in May) dipped to low single digits yet also climbed to 30C.;

Seeing few insects…happened to be hm when i noticed a well protected young man with a co truck walking with an odd backpack along property lines spraying tree undersides, bushes, under decks….when questioned i was told the active ingredient, though diluted, is a chrysanthemum flower derivative equivalent, (dragnet/…) looked it up found the following in a National Pesticide Information Centre fact sheet re Pyrethrin:
“Pyrethrins are practically non-toxic to birds but highly toxic to honey bees. However, some of the risk to pollinators is limited by their slight repellent activity and rapid breakdown. Pyrethrins are highly to very highly toxic to fish. They are also very highly toxic to lobster, shrimp, oysters, and aquatic insects. This may be partly due to their higher toxicity at lower temperatures. There is evidence that long term exposure to pyrethrins can cause reproductive effects in fish and aquatic insects. In separate studies, minnows and water fleas were exposed to very small amounts of pyrethrins for one month. Fewer minnow eggs hatched and fewer water flea young were produced.”
Some neighbours are paying for this service and its to come every 20 or so days…thus twice to date in 2022. :(
A summer and fall of few insects- what did birds feast on this 2022?
September dry, Oct 3 wks quite wet, the 20th first few mm of snow stuck around till noon. Cold nights frosty mornings. It wa# a white Christmas.

2023: Jan and Feb were windy and dark (darkest winter in 73 yrs around the great lakes), snow blanket over 2 feet, much less under trees and in windblown places (as expected)…Late Feb and March sunnier days, some rain in Mr, but nasty freeze thaw cycles causing grass to show and iced areas…It was not a particularly cold winter very few -30C nights….; June has been hot, 30C+, and dry, no rain from May 20-Jn 25 forest fire smoke in the air on and off at first from Alberta then from North of us and from Quebec. July 5th real rain!

First CANADIAN records on BG:

First ONTARIO records on BG:

2014 April 4th_Thought re BEES:
Entomologists like to say that children love insects...and from day one that may be true. Later on MANY, too many, pick up fear from others ...they learn to squash the bug...scream and freak... I am certain that insects sense fear and aim to protect themselves.

Stores are full of insecticides, specifically stressing poison/control of ants, bees, wasps, roaches, earwigs...poison is poison. Zap the mosquitoes, how many other insects wander into these light traps? (not to mention how it may affect us)...We have legislation now against weed poison why are we still allowing other poisons, feeding our fear... (why perhaps because industry depends on products that sell)

City neighbourhoods fear hives, not in my back yard, my kids play in that park there is a hive get rid of it......Where are the insects to go? We pave over lawns in fact the latest is artificial turf on many home properties, another threat for the earthworms, insects...hmmm...

WE have to go into schools and educate the young...get them before fear them hold the insects etc...Yes many science centres are doing this opening up the eyes of lucky individuals...yet places like that are expensive and most families can only afford one or two days out a year, lucky the class that goes on a field trip today...Sadly most children learn something at school from teachers that may also exhibit fear and the cycle of "kill the bug continues" ...

The connection between starvation and agriculture is often in science/ geography classes the association made with drought/ water/climate change. Why not add insects to the home economics class curriculum as well....
The connection of pollinators = fruit + vegetables must be made and stressed just as equally, over and over. Protect your insects! Love the bees! This is no easy task.