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Phenology Talkbacks: Kids dart after dragonflies, look for loons

A large dragonfly sits on a plant. It has a brown body, blue tail, and 3 black and 2 white spots per wing.
Lorie Shaull
A twelve-spotted skimmer alights on a plant near Detroit Lakes on July 3, 2024.

This week brings five reports, including the return of the Newstok family and a surprise check-in from our friend Chad Kaddatz in Little Falls!

Chad Kaddatz from Little Falls

“Hi, John and Charlie, this is Chad Kaddatz from Little Falls. Feels like forever since I've touched base, and I thought I would check in with a little summer report.

“The kids have stayed active this summer. They've been submitting a lot of pictures for our Instagram page, so if anybody's available to check that out, if you look up Little Falls Phenology you'll find our our photos on Instagram. That's definitely been a lot of fun.

“The big change we've seen around here in Little Falls is that we have moved from our springtime flowers into our more summer-mode flowers. In the spring, we had so many of the more delicate, more showy spring ephemerals and flowers: a lot of different colors.

Chad Kaddatz phenology report: July 9, 2024

Two weevils feed on a spotted knapweed flower near Little Falls in early July, 2024. The flower is purple with long, thin petals and two brown beetles in it. On the plant, there are a few other buds waiting to open.
Two weevils feed on a spotted knapweed flower near Little Falls in early July, 2024.

“Now we're getting into a little more of our heartier flowers, maybe a little smaller. Not a lot of variety in colors. It seems like everything is either purple, white or yellow, especially with the prairie flowers that we still get around here in Little Falls. So that's been a definite change.

“I did hear Charlie talking last week about watching some of the families of birds, and that's one of the things that I've noticed too. We have a groups of cardinals and chickadees that have been hanging around the feeder, but also a group of House Wens and four Gray Catbirds that hang out here every day. It's kind of fun to watch. They like to hide out underneath the juniper shrub right outside the windows in our basement. I get to watch them quite a bit.

“I've been kind of fascinated this last week with some of the insects that are hanging around on plants: two of them in particular. One of them is more of a pest species than anything else - the Colorado potato beetles. We have a lot of bittersweet nightshade growing around our house, and they are just covered in several generations of these Colorado potato beetles, from the larva to the adults.

“They're bizarre looking creatures. The adults are a beige/cream-colored beetle with dark stripes, and the larvae look like something out of a muppets or a science fiction creation. They're... they're bizarre. They are devouring the nightshade plants, and I'm really curious what will happen to all of them when those plants are gone. They're not going to last forever.

“There's some spotted knapweed and when I got a closer look at it, I noticed that the top had several of these little weevils. I keyed them out, and they're called seedhead weevils. And every flower of knapweed that I found had two or three of these weevils on them. Apparently what's happening is they are adults laying eggs on those knapweed flowers. Then the larvae will end up feeding on the seeds of the knapweed, and they'll turn to adults and then they'll overwinter in the leaf litter near where the knapweed grows, then they’ll come back next year. But that's another thing that, you know, I'm not going to say I've never seen them before, but I've definitely never paid close attention to them.

“So, I would recommend to anyone who gets a chance to get out there: look at some of the flowers and plants that are growing and blooming around their house. Get a close-up look and see if there's any other organisms living on them.

“All right, well that is my short report for this week. I hope everybody's having a fantastic summer and I hope to touch base with you guys again soon!”

Hartley and Eddie from Sugar Lake Lodge

Sugar Lake Lodge phenology report: July 9, 2024

“Hi, my name is Eddie and I'm from Eagan. I'm going into fifth grade at Faithful Shepherd Catholic School. I'm visiting Sugar Lake Lodge.

“Today, I was going around the property and I saw damselfly and a dragonfly and I found a leopard frog that was massive. I found the spotted touch me not and it helps with bug bites a lot.”

“Hi, my name is Hartley. I'm from Eagan, Minnesota. I am going into fourth grade at Faithful Shepherd Catholic School. I am visiting Sugar Lake Lodge, and today I saw a bunch of frogs and I saw a dragonfly.

“There was a twelve-spotted skimmer dragonfly, and we tried to catch it, but it was too fast. And then we ate these little tiny apples and they were super sour.

“And there were these plants that were shaped like hearts, and then we ate them, and they were also super sour. Then we found some plants that are called touch me not, and they help with bug bites.”

Newstok family near Grand Rapids

Newstok family phenology report: July 9, 2024

“Hi, this is Ruth, Axel and Pearl.

“We have seen two foxes and the beaver almost every evening. The loon is still sitting on her nest. We wonder what the average date is that the loon chicks hatch?

“We've seen many daisies, some black-eyed Susans and many hummingbirds at the feeder. We've also seen yellow and white water-lilies.

“Last week, we saw our first raspberry, and there's been a bear sighting on the other side of our lake. We are so glad to be listening to KAXE again for the rest of this summer. Bye!”

Wanda regarding robins

Wanda phenology report: July 9, 2024

Lisa regarding chanterelles

Lisa phenology report: July 9, 2024

What have you seen out there? Let us know: email us at or text us at 218-326-1234.

That does it for this week! For more phenology, subscribe to our Season Watch Newsletter or visit the Season Watch Facebook page.

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

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Charlie Mitchell (she/they) joined KAXE in February of 2022. Charlie creates the Season Watch Newsletter, produces the Phenology Talkbacks show, coordinates the Phenology in the Classroom program, and writes nature-related stories for KAXE's website. Essentailly, Charlie is John Latimer's faithful sidekick and makes sure all of KAXE's nature/phenology programs find a second life online and in podcast form.<br/><br/><br/>With a background in ecology and evolutionary biology, Charlie enjoys learning a little bit about everything, whether it's plants, mushrooms, or the star-nosed mole. (Fun fact: Moles store fat in their tails, so they don't outgrow their tunnels every time conditions are good.)