A freshly molted cicada, near an exoskeleton. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region / Flickr Creative Commons)

What's that you say? Cicadas have been uncommonly loud all day long? There's likely a simple explanation for the sustained volume.

A green sweat bee is just one of the pollinators Chicagoans might spot in their local parks. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The Chicago Park District is joining a national community science project designed to raise awareness of all the bees, butterflies, beetles, moths and wasps that rely on urban green spaces for food and shelter.

A spongy moth caterpillar. (Feliciano Moya Lopez / Pixabay)

Several sites in northeastern Illinois — including Waterfall Glen, Des Plaines Riverway, Hidden Lake and Wood Ridge forest preserves — will be sprayed with fake pheromones to confuse spongy moth males and disrupt mating.

A midge swarm on Lake Erie. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Swarms of gnat-sized midges, which look like mini-mosquitoes, minus the bite, have been reported along the Chicago lakefront. But in this case, “swarm” is relative. 

A spongy moth caterpillar. (Feliciano Moya Lopez / Pixabay)

The gypsy moth has been going by its mouthful of a scientific name — Lymantria dispar — since July, when scientists scrapped the insect’s derogatory common name and began weighing alternatives.

Grubs have laid waste to Welles Park, making it hard to tell where ball diamonds' infields end and outfields begin. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Treatment by the Chicago Park District of a grub infestation, which laid waste to a third of Welles Park’s 15 acres, will shut down the affected area to all activity for months, and spring sports are in jeopardy.

An infestation of beetle grubs has decimated a huge swath of Welles Park in Lincoln Square. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

A freak grub infestation has laid waste to roughly one-third of Welles Park’s 15 acres in Lincoln Square. The scope of the destruction — which the Chicago Park District is working to address — is so out of the ordinary, even experts say they’re stunned.

The rusty patched bumble bee, pictured here, was the first bee in the continental U.S. to receive an endangered species listing. More bumble bees are now being considered. (Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

One of North America’s most common native bumble bee species, the aptly named American bumble bee, is on the ropes. Among the threats to its survival: competition from honey bees.

The endangered rusty patched bumble bee. (Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Four years after the rusty patched bumble bee was placed on the endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its final recovery plan for the insect, a plan critics say manages to go too far and yet not far enough at the same time.

A periodical cicada. (Dan Keck / Pixabay)

Nearly 200,000 people downloaded an app, Cicada Safari, created by researchers to track observations of Brood X. Scientists will be reaping the rewards of that communal effort for years to come.

A lymantria dispar caterpillar, awaiting its new common name. (Feliciano Moya Lopez / Pixabay)

Moths have been nabbing international headlines of late, thanks to a declaration by the Entomological Society of America that the gypsy moth is no more. The destructive insect hasn’t gone extinct, but it’s common name has been mothballed.

An Atlas moth dispels the myth that moths are drab. (Bar Bus / Pixabay)

They are often thought of as a nondescript bugs — or even pests — and are misunderstood in large part because of their nocturnal behavior. But moths are excellent pollinators and play a key role in the food web. Here’s what else you should know about moths’ incredible diversity.

Periodical cicadas are identifiable by their red eyes. (Dan Keck / Pixabay)

Spicy popcorn cicadas, anyone? Not so fast, the Food and Drug Administration warns, if you have a shellfish allergy. The insects are related to shrimp and lobster. 

White clover lawns are a buffet for pollinators, especially bees. (zoosnow / Pixabay)

Clover was once commonly included in lawn seed mixes, but then gained a reputation as a weed. It’s time, horticulturalists say, to revisit clover’s environmental benefits.

Periodical cicadas are identifiable by their red eyes. (Dan Keck / Pixabay)

Reports that millions of 17-year cicadas will emerge from underground in the Chicago area this spring aren’t true. They’re coming in 2024. 

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

From a sociological perspective, we rake because no one wants to be the neighbor with the messy lawn, but ecologically speaking, the benefits of a little mess outweigh the merits of a pristine yard.