Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Third week of July

Nature Watch
July 16, 2008

By Sue Benson
CNHM, Director of Education

What is new in the natural world this next week? In the bird world, watch around your house for the Eastern phoebe—gray-brown above, and white below, and often seen pumping its tail when perching— it has begun its second nesting brood. By now pheasants and ducks have hatched, and egrets and great blue herons will have fledged from their nests.

The first generation of monarch butterflies 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 as they feed in oak, cherry, and maple trees. In the world of spiders, the young ones, called spiderlings, can be seen riding the wind to new homes by casting their long-spun threads into the air from tree tops.

Deer flies are now out in force. The adults are hardy, strong fliers; males feed on flower nectar, honeydew, plant juices, and other liquids. Deer fly females feed on the blood of many warmblooded animals, including humans. When they bite, you feel it! Deer flies do not have piercing/sucking mouthparts like mosquitoes. Instead, 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 then lap up the blood with a sponge-like proboscis.
Wild raspberries are beginning to ripen. Wild bergamot, a lavender colored flower, will begin blooming. Queen Anne’s lace is a white flower, so called because the flower resembles lace. The tiny red flower in the center represents a blood droplet where Queen Anne pricked herself with a needle when she was making the lace. Watch for these flowers in sunny areas.

Become a phenologist! Plant your own butterfly garden, and see what comes for a visit. Turn on a night light and observe and record what flies in—try looking at different times during the summer to see different moth species.

Nature Watch is 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. The Museum invites you to visit its facility in Cable at 43570 Kavanaugh Street or on the web at to learn more about exhibits and programs.

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