July 11, 2007
By Sue Benson,
CNHM, Director of Education
What is new in the natural world this next week? The Eastern phoebe, gray-brown above, and white below, often seen pumping its tail when perching, is beginning its second nesting brood. By now pheasants and ducks will have hatched, and egrets and great blue herons have fledged from their nests.
The first generation of monarchs is appearing right now. Male katydids can be heard at night as they rub their legs over their rasped and ridged wings like a fiddle and bow as they call. They can be seen in trees as they feed on oak, cherry, and maple trees. In the world of spiders, the young, called spiderlings, can be seen riding the wind to a new home by casting their long-spun threads into the air from tree tops.
Deer flies are out in force. These adults are strong fliers, and appear in early summer with females feeding on blood while males feed on flower nectar, honeydew, plant juices, and other liquids. Deer fly females feed on the blood of many warmblooded animals, including humans. Deer flies do not have piercing/sucking mouthparts like mosquitoes. They bite a hole in your skin with their strong mandibles, put a little saliva-like material in the wound to keep the blood from clotting and lap up the blood with a sponge-like proboscis.
Wild raspberries are beginning to ripen. Black-eyed Susan’s are blooming, and are usually found surrounded by a host of butterflies, wasps, bees, flies and beetles. Wild bergamot, a lavender colored flower, found in sunny areas, will begin blooming.
Looking south at night, the brightest "star" in this area is the planet Jupiter. Aim a pair of binoculars at them to view any of this planet’s moons. Around July 16, the new moon will be close to Saturn, Venus and Leo’s bright star Regulus – all visible on the western horizon.
Become a phenologist! Plant your own butterfly garden, and see what comes for a visit, or turn on a night light and observe and record what flies in – try it different times during the summer to see different moth species.
Brought to you by the Cable Natural History Museum. For 40 years, the Museum has served as a guide and mentor to generations of visitors and residents interested in learning to better appreciate and care for the extraordinary natural resources of the region. They invite you to visit their facility in Cable on 43570 Kavanaugh Street or at the website at http://www.cablemuseum.org/ to learn more about their exhibits and programs.