Rhizocarpon geographicum “Map Lichen" 

Mount Rainier National Park, WA
August 9, 2013
Robert Niese

Map Lichen is an easily recognizable montane species of crustose lichen that can be found throughout the Pacific Northwest. Look for its characteristic yellow thallus with black apothecia (the black dots surrounded by yellow). Individual lichens are bordered by a thick black line (seen clearly in the center left of this image) which makes them look somewhat like delineated countries on a map (hence the name).

Mantis religiosa “European Mantis” Mantidae

Woodinville, WA
August 13, 2013
Robert Niese

Native mantids are exceedingly rare in Washington, but that doesn’t make the introduced and abundant European Mantis any less photogenic. If you’re interested in finding natives, try scouring sagebrush habitats in central Washington for Litaneutria, a small gray ground mantis.

Calypso bulbosa “Calypso Orchid” or “Pink Fairy Slipper” Orchidaceae

Glacier National Park, MT
June 22, 2014
Robert Niese

The Calypso Orchid has an amazingly broad circumboreal distribution. From Japan to Mongolia, Scandinavia to Newfoundland, New Mexico to Alaska – this single species can be found in nearly every montane coniferous forest in the Northern Hemisphere. In spite of this C. bulbosa is considered endangered in Sweden, Finland, and several U.S. states due to its extreme sensitivity to even the slightest human disturbances. 

Pentidotea (Idotea) wosnesenskii “Kelp Isopod” Isopoda

Olympic National Park, WA
June 1, 2013
Robert Niese

This is an abundant intertidal crustacean that feasts on algae growing among mussel and barnacle beds throughout northern Pacific rocky coastlines. They range in color from purple to red to brown to green, depending on their current algae diet.

Sinodendron rugosum “Rugose Stag Beetle” Lucanidae

Tacoma, WA
July 2, 2013
Robert Niese

This adorable stag beetle is the only member of its genus found in North America. It is also commonly consumed by the endangered Spotted Owl.