Hidden Pond Nature Center

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Visitor Center: Weekdays 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Weekends Noon to 5 p.m.

TTY 711

8511 Greeley Blvd.
Springfield, Virginia

Mike McCaffrey,

Hidden Pond Almanac

Natural events, happenings, and fearless predictions based upon 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.


First Week 

Tiger swallowtail butterflyTiger swallowtail butterflies are seen all summer flying high in the treetops (maybe more than usual this year) where the females lay their eggs on tulip poplar and wild cherry trees among others. Besides the usual yellow and black tiger-like markings, some females also have a nearly all black form. There may be three broods in our area. Adults feed on nectar flowers and flit about until their wings wear out.  

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.


Second Week 

Blackberries are ripe for the picking. 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 people, but their spines are pointy. The sun’s rays now get more oblique; water in ponds and swimming pools begins to cool.

Third Week

Full moon is August 15. Ragweed’s drab green flowers now release pollen, carried by wind to other ragweed and to our eyes and 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, say 40 years, to a forest. Squirrels feed on the newly dropped green acorns of white oaks.

Fourth 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. You may see them working around parking lot lights.  Hummingbirds feed on orange 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. Jupiter remains bright in the southwest after sunset. New-mown grass smells different in the fall – the smell of after school sports.

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