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Tom Lewanski

'Don't worry, I come in peace!' Meet the one-of-a-kind pelecinid wasp

Check out that pointy abdomen!

As young bees and wasps mature, you're more likely to spot this unusual pollinator: a pelecinid.
Photo by Kristin Lee, Creative Commons license

Of the 18,000 species of ants, bees and wasps in North America, the pelecinid wasp is among the most interesting. This insect is so unusual it shares its family (Pelecinidae) with just three other species in the world, with no others in North America. But don't worry, that 'stinger' isn't what it looks like.

July 12

Saying goodbye to a dear friend, Tecla Karpen

Tecla Karpen and students in "Karpen Woods"

Tecla Karpen and local Hastings students helping to restore "Karpen Woods" on the blufftop.

Local conservation hero, educator and environmental advocate Tecla Rose Karpen passed away in late May.

I first met Tecla in 1999 during a visit to her bluffland home along the Mississippi River in Hastings. As the relatively new conservation director at FMR, I was spending a lot of time out of the office meeting landowners and trying to understand the lay of the land. Tecla was one of the first.

June 21

Red fox: Two paws, one print

Red fox

The red fox is a common yet fascinating animal in the Mississippi River valley.

The red fox is a common yet fascinating animal in the Mississippi River valley. Winter's a great time to spot their tracks — if you know what to look for.

December 8

Spring nighthawks: Acrobats of the bird world

Common nighthawk

The common nighthawk is known for its distinctive "peent" and graceful swoops and dives at dusk. Photo courtesy of Kim Taylor.

When you hear the distinctive call of these late Mississippi River flyway migrants, look to the early evening skies to enjoy their graceful dusk-hour dives.  

May 4

Unpredictable weather, fuzzy eaglets and great horned owls

The eaglets have hatched!

This time of transition between winter and spring can be a wishy-washy, ambivalent affair. It’s sunny and 50 degrees, then 20 and snowing. Likewise, some bald eagles are still hanging out in their winter homes or migrating along the Mississippi River, while others are nest-bound, feeding fuzzy eaglets. Another impressive hunter, the great horned owl, is also nesting these days. Luckily, there's great local spots to see all of this avian action, both outside along the Mississippi River and online.

March 4

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