Invasive Quagga Mussels-Help Needed

Quagga Mussels on Propeller Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Faith Jolley, Photographer
Quagga Mussels on Propeller
Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Faith Jolley, Photographer

Quagga Mussels Exposed at Lake Powell Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Phil Tuttle, Photographer Quagga Mussels Exposed at Lake Powell
Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Phil Tuttle, Photographer

Quagga Mussels Exposed at Lake Powell Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Phil Tuttle, Photographer Quagga Mussels Exposed at Lake Powell
Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Phil Tuttle, Photographer

Watercraft Inspection Point. It is unlawful to drive past an open inspection station when carrying watercraft. Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Faith Jolley, Photographer Watercraft Inspection Point
It is unlawful to drive past an open inspection station when carrying watercraft
Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Faith Jolley, Photographer

Technician Pressure Washing Watercraft with 140 F Water
Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Faith Jolley, Photographer Technician Pressure Washing Watercraft with 140 F Water
Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Faith Jolley, Photographer

Entering Decontamination Dip Tank Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Michael Christensen, Photographer Entering Decontamination Dip Tank
Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Michael Christensen, Photographer

Nature lovers need to be concerned about invasive aquatic species, especially the devastating potential of quagga mussels and their close relatives zebra mussels. Although these invertebrates don’t move much as adults, it is important to understand how they traveled here, the reasons these mussels are dangerous, and the ways their proliferation can be prevented.

Dan Egan in his Death and LIfe of the Great Lakes explains that quagga mussels and zebra mussels migrated from the waters of the Black and Caspian seas to the Great Lakes in the ballast tanks of ocean-going freighters. Since 1989, these mussels have hitch-hiked on boats across the Great Lakes and throughout the Mississippi River drainage. They traveled up the Missouri into Montana and across the continental divide to Lake Mead, down the Colorado to California, and upstream to Lake Powell. Currently, they cover much of the United States except for parts of Utah and the Northwest.

The threat from quickly spreading, voracious, mussels is real. Quaggas reproduce better than most freshwater mussels, each spawning as many as one million microscopic veligers per year. Since mussels filter plankton from freshwater so well, little is left to nourish fish and aquatic insects. Mussels also grow quickly where water moves: piling on top of each other, clogging pipes, and fouling propellers. Unfortunately, the damage is not limited to watercraft. Water delivery pipes and power generation structures also suffer. Even death doesn’t get rid of them. Shells make beaches dangerous for bare hands and feet. Where quagga mussels take hold, the mitigation costs to private citizens and municipalities multiply dramatically.

Utah is using education, licensing, and assistance to keep invasives from spreading to other waters. Everyone operating motorized watercraft of any kind in Utah is required to take and pass the informative, mussel-aware boater course every year; pay an invasive species fee; affix stickers to watercraft; and display documents in each launch vehicle. The education effort emphasizes why watercraft surfaces, piping, and enclosed spaces must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent new infections. Although not licensed, rafts, float tubes, waders, and fishing equipment also require attention.

Stopping proliferation is the emphasis of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Aquatic Invasive Species Lieutenant, Bruce Johnson, reminds everyone to “Clean, Drain, and Dry” all watercraft. Then he explains how the DWR can assist owners navigating the mandatory statewide inspection and cleanout stations. There, wildlife technicians inspect all watercraft and have the option to pressure wash visible and hidden recesses with 140-degree water. Alternatively, they can apply a seal, sequestering watercraft from relaunch until after a mandated 7-30 day drying period passes. But pressure washing a boat and trailer takes about 45 minutes and drying takes weeks. So recently, to improve treatment quality, enhance safety, and speed up the process, the DWR installed decontamination dip tanks. Dip tanks take about 10 minutes, and are much faster than a lengthy power wash. As officials add more dip tanks across the state, only the invasive species come up short.

The threat posed by invasive mussels requires everyone’s attention. Cleaning watercraft is the beachhead. Making sure mussels don’t get carried to new waters is the quest.

I’m Lyle Bingham for Bridgerland Audubon and I’m Wild About Utah and controlling invasive species.

Credits:
Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Faith Jolley, PIO
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio upr.org
Text: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

Lyle Bingham’s Wild About Utah Postings

Hellstern, Ron, Invasive Species, Wild About Utah, September 24, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/ron-describes-exotic-invasive-species/

Egan, Dan, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, W. W. Norton & Company, 2017, https://www.amazon.com/Death-Life-Great-Lakes/dp/0393246434

Egan, Dan, How invasive species changed the Great Lakes forever. Zebra mussels, quagga mussels have turned the lakes’ ecosystem upside down, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 2, 2021, https://www.jsonline.com/in-depth/archives/2021/09/02/how-zebra-mussels-and-quagga-mussels-changed-great-lakes-forever/7832198002/

Dan Egan, Leaping out of the lakes: Invasive mussels spread across America. Officials at Lake Powell fought for a decade to keep out quagga mussels. They lost the fight., Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 2, 2021, https://www.jsonline.com/in-depth/archives/2021/09/02/leaping-out-lakes-invasive-mussels-spread-across-america/5562151001/

Mull, Ann, Spears, Lori, Quagga Mussel (Dreissena bugensis) and Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), Extension, Utah State University, https://extension.usu.edu/pests/research/quagga-mussel-and-zebra-mussel

Mull, Ann, Spears, Lori, Quagga Mussel (Dreissena bugensis) and Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), Utah Pests, USU Extension, June 2021, https://extension.usu.edu/pests/research/quagga-mussel-and-zebra-mussel

Mull, Ann, Spears, Lori, Quagga Mussel and Zebra Mussel, Dreissena polymorpha Pallas and Dreissena bugensis Andrusov, Fact Sheet, USU Extension, https://extension.usu.edu/pests/factsheets/quagga-mussel-and-zebra-mussel1.pdf

Benson, Amy, Chronological history of zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissenidae) in North America, 1988-2010, USGS Ecosystems Mission Area, https://www.usgs.gov/publications/chronological-history-zebra-and-quagga-mussels-dreissenidae-north-america-1988-2010

Quagga Articles on USGS.gov https://www.usgs.gov/search?keywords=quagga

Quagga mussel – Water Education Foundation https://www.watereducation.org/aquapedia-background/quagga-mussel

Zebra mussels: What they are, what they eat, and how they spread, Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams, Grace College, October 7, 2020, https://lakes.grace.edu/what-are-zebra-mussels/

Invasive mussels Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, August 14, 2023, https://wildlife.utah.gov/fishing/invasive-mussels.html

Quagga Mussels (AIS) | Utah State Parks https://stateparks.utah.gov/activities/boating/quagga-mussels-ais/

What are Aquatic Invasive Species, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, https://stdofthesea.utah.gov/ais/what-are-they/

New boat decontamination dip tank installed at Utah Lake; other locations announced, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, June 29, 2023, https://wildlife.utah.gov/news/utah-wildlife-news/1699-new-boat-decontamination-dip-tank-installed-at-utah-lake.html

Other Ways to Prevent Invasive Species:
Don’t ditch a fish!, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, https://wildlife.utah.gov/dont-ditch.html

Don’t Let it Loose, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, https://www.dontletitloose.com/rehoming-a-pet/utah/


Tigers

Tigers: Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Courtesy US FWS, Thomas Maurer, Photographer
Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Courtesy US FWS, Thomas Maurer, Photographer

Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio rutulus Lucas, Courtesy & Copyright Shalayne Smith-Needham, Photographer Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio rutulus Lucas,
Courtesy & Copyright Shalayne Smith-Needham, Photographer

Western Swallowtail Butterfly Seeking Salt From Soil, 6/24/2017 Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart, Photographer Western Swallowtail Butterfly Seeking Salt From Soil, 6/24/2017
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart, Photographer

The year of the tiger. Our mountains, canyons, and valleys are replete with tigers-there’s no escaping them, tiger swallowtail butterflies! Even my grandkids captured one, which entertained them for days. It had a damaged wing and preferred crawling to flying. It’s angelic beauty transfixed the onlookers. Although injured, it hung on for a week- about the average life span of an adult butterfly.

The normal range of the western tiger swallowtail covers much of western North America, from British Columbia to North Dakota in the north to Baja California and New Mexico south. Individuals occasionally turn up in eastern North America, though it is generally replaced by the similar eastern tiger swallowtail.

Western tigers emerge from winter chrysalids between February and May, the date depending on the temperature. They are seen earlier in the more southerly and coastal parts of their range. These are high energy butterflies, rarely seen at rest.

The females lay up to a hundred eggs on a wide variety of host plants including willows, aspens, ashes, poplars, alders, and cottonwood. The eggs are deep green, shiny, and spherical. They are laid singly, on the undersides of leaves. The caterpillars emerge about four days later.

The caterpillars molt five times, eventually reaching a length up to 2 inches before pupating to adults. In summer, the butterfly can emerge as quickly as 15 days after the caterpillar’s pupated, but when the caterpillar pupates in the fall, the butterfly does not emerge until the spring. For camouflage, the young caterpillars, strangely resemble bird poop as they hatch. Once they begin to molt, they turn bright green in color, with large, yellow eyespot marks studded with black and blue pupils. These fake eyes may frighten predators, along with retractable, iridescent, horn-like structures on their head.

To harvest nectar, a butterfly unfurls its proboscis, a tube that functions like a straw and is coiled below the head when not in use. It inserts the proboscis into the flower and sucks up nectar by rhythmically contracting the muscles in its head. Sugars in the nectar provide energy for flight, defense, reproduction, and other daily activities.
Tigers also obtain nutrients and replenish fluids through “puddling,” where they congregate in large groups on mud or wet sand around puddles, streambanks, or on piles of fresh manure. I’ve observed puddling many times, always a levitating experience! Here they take up salts, proteins, and minerals. Salt is scarce in the butterfly diet, but is essential for reproduction and flight.

Puddling is primarily a male behavior, and during mating, a male butterfly transfers salt to the female in a sperm package, which she incorporates into her eggs. Researchers have found that sodium increases reproductive success in some butterfly species. During puddling, groups of males are conspicuous to females seeking mates. Males also patrol at treetop level looking for mates, swooping down to intercept females.

Thus, if you see a tiger, don’t be alarmed, just relax and enjoy their exquisite beauty and fascinating behaviors.

This is Jack Greene for Bridgerland Audubon Society, and I’m wild about Utah, and its puddling tigers!!

Credits:
Image: Courtesy US FWS, Thomas Maurer, Photographer, https://www.fws.gov/media/western-tiger-swallowtail
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/
Additional Reading: Lyle W Bingham, Webmaster, Bridgerland Audubon, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/author/jack/

Agyagos, Janie, Attracting Butterflies, USDA Forest Service, https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd899349.pdf

Backyards for Butterflies, Division of Wildlife, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, State of Ohio, Publication 5089, January 2020, https://ohiodnr.gov/static/documents/wildlife/backyard-wildlife/Backyards%20for%20Butterflies%20pub089.pdf

Carroll, James, 2006, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails gathered at mineral trace along Blackwater River tributary in Western Florida, BugGuide.net, https://bugguide.net/node/view/79626

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio canadensis, [Click to second picture to view puddling], Montana Field Guide. Montana Natural Heritage Program, https://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=IILEP94250

What’s On Your List?

What's On Your List? Canoeing in Benson Marina, Benson, Utah Courtesy & Copyright Shannin Kishbaugh, photographer
Canoeing in Benson Marina
Benson, Utah
Courtesy & Copyright Shannin Kishbaugh, photographer

A Leech on Trip Armstrong’s Thumb Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer A Leech on Trip Armstrong’s Thumb
Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer

A Leech Escaping a Container Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer A Leech Escaping a Container
Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer

If I were to ask you to craft a list of words that represent your connection to the natural world, which words immediately pop into your mind? Of course, President Theodore Roosevelt said, “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm.” Yet, Brooke Smith published her book “The Keeper of Wild Words” in response to learning that nature words she loved were replaced in the Oxford Junior Dictionary for words like chatroom and voicemail.

Grandmother Mimi tells young Brook, “If we don’t use words, they can be forgotten. And if they’re forgotten, they disappear.”

That voice was the person who gave me this beautiful book, fellow Edith Bowen Laboratory School teacher Shannin Kishbaugh. I invited her with me to talk about wild words.

What words top your list? I would say calm, peaceful, freedom, exploration, and wonder.

My list evolves, but it always has wapiti and mica schist. It includes caddisfly casings on river rocks and cumulonimbus clouds in the sky. I love red-winged blackbirds I saw this morning in the phragmites along the roadside, curlycup gumweed I discovered at Hardware Ranch, stinging nettle walking the banks as a child with my father just off Fireclay Avenue in Murray, and hoodoos in Goblin Valley.

My most recent word is leech. Shannin, when you hear that, what are your words? Uncertainty, fear, dirty, slimy, old documents and uses in medicine. I’ve become a lover of water bugs this year, but still leeches feel extreme.

Well, those are very different words from your nature words. Not long ago at a conference cleverly titled “In Mud” about place-based education for young children, I stood with teachers from Washington state to Washington D.C. While the goal was discussing developing nature inquiry projects based on interest of the students, a colleague saw a dark blob on another’s boot and for the remainder of the workshop, we as educators huddled in a circle playing with the leech like children. It slithered and reached; we gazed in wonder and some apprehension. I realized I’d never spent time appreciating a leech.

There are lots of leech species, including some found only in Utah. They begin life in a cocoon which surprised me, they have suckers that give them the reputation as selfish parasites even though they don’t all suck blood, and they play an important role in the food chain. This spring when we took our first graders out again to explore what lives in the water, this time to Benson Marina of Cutler Reservoir, our students canoed past an osprey nest, captured the cattails in watercolor, and even observed a leech clinging to our guest scientist Trip Armstrong’s thumb. As the students worked, your idea was to collect the words, their exclamations, and offer them back to them to use in writing list poetry.

Let’s end with some of the nouns, adjectives and verbs from their list: “paddle whirlpools, dunking ducks, pelican peace, and ripple reflections.” And of course, “little leech. It was the best feeling. Happiness all around me.”

We are Shannon Rhodes and Shannin Kishbaugh, and we are wild about Utah words.

Credits:

Images: Canoeing – Courtesy & Copyright Shannin Kishbaugh, Photographer
Leeches – Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Friend Weller, https://upr.org/
Text: Shannon Rhodes, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Shannon Rhodes

Additional Reading:

Wild About Utah Pieces by Shannon Rhodes, https://wildaboututah.org/author/shannon-rhodes/

Andrews, Candice Gaukel. (2009). Nature Words on the Brink of Extinction. https://www.nathab.com/blog/nature-words-on-the-brink-of-extinction/

Black, Riley. (2021). New species of leech found in Utah. https://nhmu.utah.edu/articles/2023/05/new-species-leech-found-utah

Govedich, Fredric R. and Bonnie Bain. (2005). All About the Leeches of Montezuma Well. https://www.nps.gov/moca/learn/nature/upload/montezuma_well_leeches.pdf

Morse, Susan. A Few Words for Nature Nerds. https://www.fws.gov/story/few-words-nature-nerds

Smith, Brooke. (2020). The Keeper of Wild Words. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. https://www.chroniclebooks.com/products/the-keeper-of-wild-words

U.S. Department of the Interior. (2020). The Conservation Legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. https://www.doi.gov/blog/conservation-legacy-theodore-roosevelt

Utah State University Extension. Key to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates in Utah. https://extension.usu.edu/waterquality/macrokey/no-shell/worm-like/

The Bees and the Birds

The Bees and the Birds: The Bee Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
The Bee
Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer

The Bees and the Birds: The Bird [A Mallard Drake] Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer The Bird
[A Mallard Drake]
Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer

March is a thrilling month to be in an elementary school. Besides fifth grade maturation sessions, shamrocks pop up and many spotlight the impact of Dr. Seuss. Besides green eggs and ham eaten by children wearing tall red and white hats, we read and re-read books filled with fanciful characters and rhymes that roll off the tongue. I learned this year along with my students that Dr. Seuss’s father was the superintendent of parks in Springfield, Massachusetts, so naturally young Theodor took his sketchpad and pencil to observe and record whenever he could. When an animal lost an antler at the zoo, he would use it to craft a sculpture just as whimsical as the imaginative ones in his books. He called them pieces of The Seuss System of Unorthodox Taxidermy and placed them early in his career as promotional advertisements in bookshops. Kangaroo Bird with its teal stripes and pouch-perched hatchling and the Andulovian Grackler’s fur tufts and orange bill intrigue me. He also painted the stunning “The Birds and the Trees” featuring a white flock flying between red and pink palm trees that inspired the Dadake Day in “Oh the Thinks You Can Think.” As we studied Dr. Seuss’s “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” released 50 years ago this year, students noted how many birds appeared in the pages, leading us to do a Seuss bird scavenger hunt, our version of the birding counts chronicled in Mark Obmascik’s “The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession” (that’s f-o-w-l).

I do know I was lucky to teach once on a fifth grade team with a man students called Mr. J. Among many other things, he taught them how to recognize and identify birds. He preserved a time each day to review birds they had learned and add facts about a new species, how it looks, how it sounds, and how it behaves. He could display photographs and even silhouettes; students knew the shapes enough to identify them. He could play short audio clips, and students shouted out the corresponding birds too. I’ve discovered since The Bird Song Hero app that provides a spectrogram showing pitches visually that allow people like me another way to memorize those various bird songs. I remember I popped in the day they were discussing how our loggerhead shrike impales insects, rodents, snakes, and lizards on fences and really anything sharp and off the ground. When we took them on the bus through the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, I couldn’t believe my ears as kids with binoculars and without them were confidently shouting, “I see…” and tallying on their clipboards. For weeks that spring I would find students at recess peering up in the sky above the schoolyard doing the same thing. When I marveled at this phenomenon, Mr. J. smiled. “You know, Shannon, it isn’t about the birds. It’s about being aware.”

So often his “It’s about being aware” mantra pops in my head, like it did this week when my students huddled around our class pet cage housing a bee that emerged early from my Crown Bee tube “free-bee” from a recent science-teaching conference. Just like Dr. Seuss’s Bee-Watcher-Watchers, these six- and seven-year-olds eagerly missed romping in the fresh powder playground to watch a bee perched on a strawberry. I’ve done the same thing, standing mesmerized, lost in thought, watching a bee on a western coneflower, repeating the Seuss rhyme “Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky.”

For Wild About Utah, I’m Shannon Rhodes.

Credits:

Images: Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Friend Weller, https://upr.org/
Text:     Shannon Rhodes, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Shannon Rhodes

Additional Reading:

Wild About Utah Pieces by Shannon Rhodes, https://wildaboututah.org/author/shannon-rhodes/

The Art of Dr. Seuss Collection. The Birds and the Trees. https://www.drseussart.com/the-birds-and-the-trees

The Art of Dr. Seuss Collection. The Bee-Watcher. https://www.drseussart.com/illustration-art/the-bee-watcher

The Art of Dr. Seuss Collection. The Seuss Collection of Unorthodox Taxidermy. https://www.drseussart.com/taxidermy

Bird Song Hero. https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/features/bird-song-hero/bird-song-hero-tutorial

Cane, Jim. The Native Bees of Utah. July 7, 2011. Wild About Utah. https://wildaboututah.org/the-native-bees-of-utah/

Kervin, Linda. Shrikes. October 31, 2013. Wild About Utah. https://wildaboututah.org/shrikes/#:~:text=Utah%20has%202%20species%20of,with%20their%20thick%20hooked%20bill .

Newberry, Todd & Holtan, G. (2005). The Ardent Birder: On the Craft of Birdwatching. Random House LLC. https://www.amazon.com/Ardent-Birder-Birdwatching-Newberry-2005-10-01/dp/B01FGJKGUS?asin=1580087159&revisionId=&format=4&depth=1

Obmascik, Mark. The Big Year. https://www.markobmascik.com/books/ and https://www.audubon.org/content/mark-obmascik

Seuss, Dr. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? (1973). New York: Random House.https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/42980/did-i-ever-tell-you-how-lucky-you-are-by-dr-seuss/

Seuss, Dr. Oh the Thinks You Can Think. (1975). New York: Random House.https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/43101/oh-the-thinks-you-can-think-by-dr-seuss/