ST. PAUL NOTES | Hawks, butterflies, earwigs and Klingons online in St. Paul


I belong to a lot of neighborhood forums, where I mostly lurk, keeping an eye out for potential stories and writers. Lately, there’s been a lot of wild conversation, and I asked the writers for permission to share a selected few entries from the always-interesting St. Anthony Park Yahoo forum:

About a month ago, a family of hawks moved into our back yard–well, actually, onto the railroad easement just over our backyard fence. When they first showed up, I thought, “Cool. Hawks!” I don’t think that anymore. Bye bye squirrels, chipmunks, voles and songbirds. All gone. Our formerly melodic and heavily-trafficked backyard is now a scene from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. I am told by my DNR bird specialist friend that the hawks will move on, now that they’ve killed everything, once their young are independent. Can’t be soon enough for me!
Adam Granger
In the shadow of the trestle

But how cool to be able to watch hawks up close! It sounds like they might be Coopers Hawks – there are several nests in the neighborhood.

The hawks are very cool. They are pretty noisy too. I haven’t spotted their nest, but it must be about on the level with my second floor office. The first few days of listening to their calls was wonderful. But when I was trying to concentrate on a difficult (read that as “losing”) argument, I  found them a bit distracting. But watching them fly and seeing them preen on our fence and listening to the calls of their young are all really thrilling.

Our Monarch babies are all doing well in their respective habitats. This morning I checked the milkweed behind our garage and there are no Monarch caterpillars to be found — and so many predators prowling — spiders, beetles and wasps — oh my! And earwigs. Do they mess with Monarch eggs/caterpillars? It is nice to know that our little ones are safe and munching toward adulthood.

There are lots of hazards for monarch babies – almost none of them make it to adulthood. Female monarchs lay many hundreds of eggs, and only two have to make it to adulthood for the population to stay stable.

I don’t know about earwigs – they are scavengers, so if they come across eggs, they might well eat them.
Marcie O’Connor

It is weird how everyone — young and old — has heard the frightening legends about earwigs getting into our ears and eating our brains. Like tiny pincered zombies. Some of the Star Trek movies include scenes of the baddies putting pincered earwig looking wiggly things into the ears (early Star Trek) or mouths (latest movie) of the good guys in order to control their brains. Too bad they evoke such nightmares, they seem harmless enough — at least to humans. I not sure about Klingons though.

If you are referring to the corn earworm (order Lepidoptera), it is the larval pest of corn that becomes a moth as an adult. Earwigs are in their own order, Dermaptera, and really do not have any connection to ears or wigs, but the stories began years ago and continue. Since they are nocturnal and like to hide in dark places during the day, and they do frequently end up in our houses, if one fell asleep on the floor at night or outside on the ground, I suppose one could end up in your ear, but very unlikely.

Earwigs were not even found as far north as MN back in the 80’s but have progressively moved north and now are a significant pest in gardens damaging the flowers of many kinds of plants and preying on various insects, like butterfly and moth larvae. Along with the Japanese beetles they are very abundant pests this year.
Margot Monson

Cooper’s hawks have also been spotted in Seward and Standish-Ericsson, and duly reported on those E-Democracy forums, along with other wildlife, links to bird identification sites, and much more.

Many Twin Cities neighborhoods have on-line forums, with more coming all the time. You can check out the E-Democracy forums here, and sign up as a member of your neighborhood forum. You can read the E-Democracy forums even if you are not a member. The St. Anthony Park forum is here, but you can’t read it unless you have been accepted as a member, and its focus is on the neighborhood, not on wildlife in general.

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Collaborative.