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Sax-Zim Bog BioBlitz IX 2021 Wrap-up

August 5, 2021 Category: , ,
Field Trip Leader Kelly Beaster (right) with intrepid Plant and Shrub Field Trip participants. (Photo by Sparky Stensaas)

On July 17, 2021 the 9th Annual Sax-Zim Bog was held! This year’s bioblitz was back in person, came close to breaking a few different records (attendance, species documented, new species added to the Master Species List), and continued the tradition of documenting and learning about the abundant biodiversity in the Sax-Zim Bog.

It never ceases to amaze me that there can be so much learning and teaching done during the BioBlitz each year. Each bioblitz gives us an opportunity for experts to teach interested field trip participants about the plants, bugs, fungi, etc of the region. This year was no exception and with the addition of two new field trips, folks got an opportunity to spend time searching for species never documented before during a bioblitz! If you didn’t have a chance to attend in person, a virtual wrap up of the bioblitz was done, which considered this year’s results, as well as some history of bioblitzes in the Sax-Zim Bog and can be viewed here. For the third year in a row we also utilized iNaturalist as a way to keep track of observations and you can check out those observations here.

Field Trip participants checking out the insect diversity that can be found on Common Milkweed!

This year’s BioBlitz was the best attended yet, with a record 65 participants! On average, our bioblitzes attract around 35-40 folks, so it was nice to see so many out and about, ready to learn and document species in the Sax-Zim Bog. With our amazing field trip leaders, we were able to offer 11 different field trips throughout the day. Two new field trips were added this year: Bumblebees and allies, as well as Galls, Rusts, Brooms, and Non-metazoan Plant Diseases! Over the day field trip leaders covered the bog from north to south, including a couple of groups checking out areas south of Cty 133 (which was a new area of coverage for our bioblitzes).

Head Naturalist Clinton addressing field trip participants at the start of the BioBlitz!

So what did we find during the BioBlitz? We documented a grand total of 725 species of which 114 were new to the Master Species list! These impressive totals are the second highest ever for a bioblitz and contained some truly amazing species! Of the 114 new species to the species list, 53 additions came from the Galls, Rusts, and Brooms Field Trip, 21 new species from the Moths Field Trip, and 19 new additions from both of the Plant focused field trips. Below are a few photos and a rundown of what each field trip found:

Trip Leaders Kristina (left) and Clinton (center-back) Dexter-Nienhaus showing off their catch during the Aquatic Biodiversity Field Trip.


9 species of bumblebee documented, with 4 additional bee species identified. Highlights for the group include observations of a number of Frigid Bumblebees from a new location in the Bog! This northerly distributed species of bee seems to have a stronghold in the Sax-Zim Bog and was a lifer for field trip leader Tony Ernst!

(Photos from top to bottom: Frigid Bumblebee, Sanderson’s Bumblebee, and Yellow-banded Bumblebee by Tony Ernst)


29 species observed with 6 new additions to the species list. Covering new ground, field trip leader Chad Heins did it again and documented some awesome spider diversity, including the 2nd state record of Striped Jumping Spider and and a 2nd state record of Cantrall’s Wolf Spider (the first record was BioBlitz 8!)!

(Photos from top to bottom: Striped Jumping Spider, Cantrall’s Wolf Spider, and a young Ant-mimic Spider in the genus Castianeira by Chad Heins)


95 species documented! Though not all of these species were seen during one field trip, Kim and Cindy Risen lead their bird trip through the bog seeing 66 species total. Four other field trips added to the remainder. Kim noted that July is hard to time find birds, but their group got to enjoy a number of species feeding young and saw a few Dickcissels (in an unprecedented northern irruption this season).

(Top photo of a disheveled looking male Chestnut-sided Warbler, no doubt taking care of fledglings by Jason Heinen. Bottom photo of an obliging Black-billed Cuckoo by Sparky Stensaas.)


25 species of butterfly documented; 4 species of ladybug documented! Butterfly numbers were lower than normal (with the exception of Dun Skipper!) during this year’s bioblitz, likely due to the heat and drought influencing plant production. That didn’t deter folks from enjoying some butterfly diversity. Perhaps the highlight of the BioBlitz (at least for Field Trip Leader Jerry McCormick) was 4 species of ladybug! Ladybug numbers have been incredibly low over the last couple of years. To find one ladybug was exciting, but having four total species was wonderful (even if two of the species were non-native).

(Photo on right of a non-native Seven-spotted Ladybug by Julie Grahn. Photo on left of Dion Skipper by Chad Heins.)


~60 species of bird, 15 species of dragonfly and damselfly, ~15 species of butterfly. This field trip featured components of three different field trips wrapped up into one! Welcome Center Naturalist Jason Heinen led this trip to see what flying critters the group could find and came through with some nice diversity!

(Top photo of an ever interesting Scorpion Fly (Panorpa sp.) by Jason Heinen. Bottom photo of Swift River Cruiser by Clinton Dexter-Nienhaus.)


15 species documented, 13 of which were new additions to the Master Species List! Field Trip Leader Jason Husveth noted that he may not have documented a lot of species, but per capita, likely the most new species documented! And he was right! A full 86% of the species found by his group were new for the Master Species List including a county record plant (Great Plains Goldenrod), documentation of the southern-most population of Brown-beaked Beakrush (Rhynchospora fusca), and documentation of a fairly new-to-science species of rush, Mammilate Spikerush (Eleocharis mamilata)!

Field Trip Leader Jason Husveth scouring the bog for sedges and other rare bog plants (Photo by Randy Bunney)


208 species documented with 6 new additions to the species list. Field Trip leader Kelly Beaster has been to almost every bioblitz since the start of the Sax-Zim Bog BioBlitzes and continues to find new species in new locations. Her group documented 196 species during the day, covering a variety of trees, shrubs, grasses and sedges, as well as other vascular plants.

(Top photo of Lesser Purple-fringed Orchid by Chad Heins. Bottom photo of a robust growth of Ghost Pipes by Cindy Risen.)


62 species observed with a staggering 53 new species added to the Master Species List! This field trip name may be a mouthful, but it filled a gap in the understanding of biodiversity in the Sax-Zim Bog. Many of the odd bits of color, bumps, or crinkled leaves on plants that you see on a walk through a park or green space are actually from mites, flies, wasps, fungi, or bacteria! Sam Guida was the Field Trip Leader for this trip and shared his expertise with this collection of species groups with a good number of field trip participants. A few of the species observed during this field trip are still undescribed by science and one species seen is entirely unknown to science!

(A selection of galls, rusts, and non-metazoan plant diseases! From top to bottom: Rust fungus Uredinopsis pteridis on Braken Fern, Currant Mite in the species Ribesia on currant species, Fungus on balsam fir needle Lophodermium lacerum, and a two-fer with Carboniferous goldenrod gall mite (Asteromyia carbonifera) being attacked by a mite fungus Botryosphaeria dothidea. Photos by Sam Guida)


152 species documented and 21 new species added to the Master Species List! This field trip was offered the night prior to our BioBlitzes and this was the first year with attendance to the trip! 8 folks joined field trip leaders Clinton and Kristina Dexter-Nienhaus. Included in this total were a couple of new moths found outside of the main field trip, including Rose Hooktip, Gallium Sphinx, and a new leaf mining species Scrobipalpula manierreorum! The field trip also documented two species of bat, a new species of cricket for the Master Species List, as well as a few katydid species singing during the evening.

(Photos from top to bottom: The Herald, Wavy-lined Emerald, and the tiny Caloptillia canadensisella by Clinton Dexter-Nienhaus)


11 species of fish, 4 species of amphibian, 14 species of aquatic macroinvertebrate, 2 mollusks, 1 crustacean, 1 leech, and ~24 species of aquatic plant. From this list, there were 2 new additions to the species list (North American Medicinal Leech and Black Sandshell). After the night-shift of moths, Clinton and Kristina led a trip to investigate the aquatic ecosystems around the Sax-Zim Bog. Offering up some awesome survey equipment (backpack electrofishing unit) was Murphy Steininger, who has lead an aquatic invertebrate field trip in one of our past BioBlitzes!

(Top photo of a waterbug (Belostoma sp.) eating a Brook Stickleback by Sparky Stensaas. Middle and bottom photos of a Logperch and young Smallmouth Bass and Black Sandshell by Clinton Dexter-Nienhaus.)

Next year is the 10th Annual Sax-Zim Bog BioBlitz! This milestone event hopefully will have a few new field trips, a new timeframe…. And who knows what else! I, for one, I am very excited for what this event might hold. What new species will we find? How many folks will attend? What field trips can we organize for the day? BioBlitzes offer a lot for our participants and I hope the event gives a chance for participants to see the bog in an entirely different way.

Field Trip Leaders Chad Heins (center) and Sam Guida (bottom right) chatting with field trip participants and trip leaders at the species compilation following the completion of field trips.

Special thanks go out to our field trip leaders this year: Tony Ernst, Chad Heins, Kim and Cindy Risen, Jerry McCormick, Jason Heinen, Jason Husveth, Kelly Beaster, and Clinton and Kristina Dexter-Nienhaus!

We hope to see you at the 10th Annual Sax-Zim Bog BioBlitz, but until then, we will see you in the Bog!

— Head Naturalist Clinton