Animal Tracks

March 18, 2023 clifftop CliffNotes

Winter and snow bring the opportunity to discover an abundance of animal tracks, turning a simple path into a deer superhighway. It’s fascinating to see where the critters go in their travels in the woods.  Perhaps they feel the same way when they see our footprints or UTV tracks. Let’s take a look at some […]


Cicadas of Illinois

August 31, 2022 clifftop CliffNotes

There are 22 species of cicadas that can be found in Illinois, including two species that within Illinois are only found in clifftop prairies in Monroe and Madison County. Prior to 2018, no one even knew that Beameria venosa and Neotibicen auriferus (Plain’s Dog-day Cicada) were here in Illinois. Over the past few years Catherine […]


Seed Collecting

August 4, 2022 clifftop CliffNotes

By Laura Walther Schaefer Fall is often the season when seed collecting comes to mind, but waiting until then means likely missing many of the spring to early summer flowers that have either finished their seed-producing cycle or are about ready for harvest now. Collecting your own seed, as opposed to buying plants from a […]


The Importance of Moths

June 28, 2022 clifftop CliffNotes

By Deanna Deterding, M.S., SIUE Did you know that moths outnumber butterflies 14:1 globally? In Illinois there are roughly 2000 members of the insect Order Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). Of the 2000 species of Lepidoptera over 90% of these are moths and less than 10% are butterflies. Despite how numerous moths are, conversations about pollination […]


Total Lunar Eclipse

May 26, 2022 clifftop CliffNotes

By Dr. Michael Krawczynski, Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University, St. Louis Eclipses are astronomical events that have fascinated human beings throughout history. These transcendent occurrences have always frightened, fascinated or inspired fantasy. Overnight on Sunday, May 15, into the early morning hours of Monday, May 16, there will be a […]



January 25, 2022 clifftop CliffNotes

Vast. Pristine. Remote. Penguins. Seals. Whales. Seabirds. Glaciers. Icebergs. Amundsen’s description:  “It was easy to see that here, nature was at her mightiest.” It is difficult to express in a few words or show with a collection of photos Antarctica.  Facts are Antarctica is 4.59 million square miles and the surrounding Southern Ocean covers 13.9 […]


By the Light of the Moon

November 24, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

Most of us take the moon for granted and pay little attention to its movements. After all, it is 238,900 (221,500-252,700) miles away. In reality the moon’s movements change daily, rising about 50 minutes later every day.  Sometimes it rises in the daytime and sometimes at night. It revolves around the earth every 27.3 days reflecting the […]


Help Save the Hill Prairies

October 23, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

The hill prairies of Illinois are shrinking and at risk of being lost from the Illinois landscape forever. Hill prairies are home to several rare and endangered plants and animals, and they need our help to protect them from threats like brush and other weedy invasive plants. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Friends […]


Fults Hill Prairie NP Turns 50

October 23, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

by Phil Borsdorf, IDNR District Natural Heritage Biologist Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve had a very special birthday in October 2020. This beloved natural inspiration celebrated 50 years as an Illinois Nature Preserve within the Illinois Nature Preserves System. Officially dedicated as such in 1970, it became Monroe County’s first Nature Preserve, and the 30th […]


Citizen Science is the Bee’s Knees

August 29, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

Text and photos by Laura Schaefer Shutterbee is a Citizen Science project of Webster University, St Louis University, the St Louis Zoo and Missouri Botanical Garden with additional support by Missouri Department of Conservation and the Living Earth Collaborative. It seeks backyard gardeners and bee enthusiasts of the St Louis region to monitor their flowers […]


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