One of my favorite insects to find in the city, and they're incredibly easy to see if you know what to look for, are the hover flies. The family Syrphidae contains about 6,000 species (890 in North America). They're known as Syrphid flies but more commonly they're called hover flies or flower flies, and can be found around the world in a variety of habitats. You've possibly seen them but mistaken them for a bee, as many of them resemble them so convincingly, their images are often wrongly used on articles about bees. Look a little closer and you'll see these are not bees;...
While many species may come to mind with the term 'urban wildlife', otters are not likely among the first to come to mind. Despite this, they can be seen in urban areas. In fact in three of the last cities I've called home, I've seen River Otters in two of them. River Otters can be found throughout most of North America in fresh and even salt water. While River Otters may be common throughout the region, they are less common in urban areas. When I saw a River Otter in Eugene, Oregon along the Millrace which runs through town, nobody believed me...
Common Name: American Wigeon Scientific Name: Anas americana Family: Anatidae The American Wigeon is a dabbling duck, which are ducks that tip their front ends into the water to forage while their back ends stick up in the air. They maintain a large geographic range, breeding as far north as the Bering Sea and wintering from Canada through Central America. They can be found in a wide range east to west as well and cover most of North and Central America at some point during the year. Their preferred breeding habitat are grasslands where they nest in proximity to water with cover in the...
Common Name: Eight-spotted Skimmer Scientific Name: Libellula forensis Family: Libellulidae The Eight-spotted Skimmer is a common urban dragonfly that can be found in many parks, wetlands and other landscapes with water. Their range includes the Pacific Northwest, northern California and east to the Rockies. The Skimmer family is the largest odonate family and also among the dragonflies most likely to be seen. They are further categorized among the Skimmer family as King Skimmers, a group which includes some of the most familiar species due to their large size and often conspicuous wing markings. They are considered perchers instead of fliers because they hawk prey much in...
Common Name: Mylitta Crescent Scientific Name: Phyciodes mylitta Family: Nymphalidae The Mylitta Crescent butterfly (Phyciodes mylitta) is a common sight to the west coast of North America. Mylitta was an ancient Babylonian goddess of fertility, their name for Aphrodite and perhaps the butterfly is appropriately named because they often produce multiple broods each year. Another urban species, like the Woodland Skipper, these butterflies are frequently found in disturbed sites such as vacant lots, roadsides and fencerows. They also can be found in fields, wet meadows, water edges, woodland openings, canyons and weedy areas. The Mylitta Crescent is a bit of a bully and will chase...
In the Pacific Northwest there are over a dozen different species of bumble bees and close to 50 in North America. There are over 250 species world-wide but the majority of them live in the more temperate climates of the northern hemisphere. Bumble bees are members of the Apidae family which also includes honey bees and carpenter bees. In the Pacific Northwest they vary in color, some with red, white, pale yellow,and orange, but the most familiar are black and yellow. The various species are gentle and unlikely to sting unless their nests are disturbed, in which case they can...