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Nature Almanac

Hidden Pond Nature Center

[ 8511 Greeley Blvd. ] [ Springfield, VA 22152 ] [ 703-451-9588 ]

Garden Spider

Almanac for August 2016

Natural events, happenings, and fearless predictions based on 30 years of observations at Hidden Pond. Your observations may vary! Hidden Pond is not responsible for errors, erratic behavior or other whims of nature.

  • 1st Week:  Annual cicadas buzz during the day, katydids and snowy crickets converse at night. The katydids have a raspy voice that says “katy-did, katy didn’t”, while snowy crickets create a high-pitched trilling din. This is often the driest time of year. Keep birdbaths full but remember to change the water weekly to prevent the growth of mosquito larva. A few goldfish will keep backyard ponds mosquito-free and they will survive the winter. Spicebush swallowtail butterflies are now very evident as they sip nectar from tall flowers. They deposit their eggs on spicebush and sassafras trees, which are common in our stream valleys; the young larva must feed on these plants.
  • 2nd week:  Apples ripen. Drought stressed trees, especially sycamore and river birch, drop brown leaves to reduce water loss. Goldenrod is blooming now; the earliest goldenrod is best for dried flower arrangements. The spiny spiders now blocking trails with their large orb webs are called spined micrathenas. They don’t bite but their spines are pointy. The sun’s rays now get more oblique; water in ponds and swimming pools begins to cool off.
  • 3rd week:  Full moon August 18. The ragweed’s drab green flowers now release pollen, carried by wind to other ragweed and our noses. Goldenrod, also in bloom is much more conspicuous and is often blamed for the pollen, even though it is pollinated by insects rather than the wind. Meadow wildflowers are at their peak of growth; unlike wildflowers of the forest, the makeup of a meadow changes year to year as it tends to revert first to a thicket, then in a little time to a forest. Squirrels feed on the green acorns of white oaks.
  • 4th week:  Nighthawks are now migrating south at night. These birds have large eyes, huge gaping mouths, and feed on moths and other night-flying insects while on the wing. Hummingbirds feed on touch-me-not (impatiens) flowers. Walnut tree leaves are among the first to change color (yellow) and fall. Monarch butterflies are strong fliers with rugged bodies (for butterflies). These traits help make possible their long migration south, even as far as Mexico, and we see them passing through now. New-mown grass smells different in the fall.


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