Thursday, May 31, 2012

Things to Look For in June

It's June and the world is abuzz with life. It's no coincidence that we've written a lot about insects at this time of year!


Mosquito by James Jordan
Mosquitoes: We're definitely starting to get bitten when we go outside, but the mosquitoes don't seem to be terrible yet. See our tips on looking for spots where they might be breeding.

Tiger swallowtail
Tiger swallowtail in our backyard
Tiger swallowtails: In the fall, tiger swallowtail caterpillars form a chrysalis in which they'll spend the whole winter, waiting for the right time to emerge. And then, on some warm, sunny day in April or May, you'll see one fluttering by. And you'll know: winter's over. In June, you'll start to see more. To me, tiger swallowtails are one of the things that make summer summer in Washington, DC. If you spend enough time outside on a sunny day, you're bound to see one.

firefly
Firefly by James Jordan
Fireflies: J.M. Barrie wrote: "when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies." I feel like you could say the same of fireflies. They've been out for several weeks now, but they're really starting to be plentiful now. We sit and watch them almost every night in our backyard. What better way to celebrate the summer?

mulberries
Mulberries by akeg
Mulberries: These berries are bane of some homeowners' existence as they drop and ferment on sidewalks and driveways throughout the metro area...not to mention the purple bird poop. Still, we choose to see mulberries as a glorious abundance of free fruit, rather than an annoyance.

ramp flowers (allium tricoccum)
Ramp flowers by milesizz
Ramp flowers: Ramps are sought out earlier in the spring for their edible leaves and roots. But later in June, they send up flower stalks topped with a puffball of white flowers. If you can find a big patch, it's a very impressive sight. We've seen a lot at Scott's Run and Carderock...keep an eye out and let us know if you see some.


Cicada lyrica by DaynaT
Cicadas: Also toward the end of the month, keep an eye and an ear out for the dog-day cicadas. It doesn't take much work to hear them: they're some of the loudest insects on the planet.


Photo credit: The Natural Capital
Milkweed is a beautiful, once-common roadside plant that is struggling in modern times. If you love monarch butterflies, you should show milkweed some love. Their lives depend on it: monarch larvae can only survive by eating milkweed leaves.

Deer tick
Photo credit: XplosivBadger
And while you're out looking for all these things, don't forget to keep checking for ticks. Lyme disease is rampant in our area, and a big deal if you get it. But if you find a tick within 24 hours of it attaching itself to you, chances are you won't get Lyme. So just suck it up and look for the little bloodsuckers.

What else have you been seeing on the trails lately? Leave a comment and let us know!

6 comments:

District Inroads said...

I've seen a few leaf-footed bugs (like this one http://instagr.am/p/LPCHemizP2/) along the edge of Rock Creek Park. I'm hoping not to see any ticks...

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

Fun pic! Matt came home with 4 ticks the other day. He roams off trail like a dog and seems to pick up ticks like one too.

Ren said...

Great post. I love mulberries. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out what they were, but I go every year to a parklet and pick enough for several crisps. Am I actually picking from a native tree? Seems too good to be true.

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

I think most of the mulberries in our area are non-native descendants of Asian mulberries that were brought here as an effort to start a silk industry. The silkworms never really took hold but the mulberry trees did. Native mulberries (morus rubra) have leaves that are rough on top and downy underneath, and longer fruits (1-2 inches). Non-natives (morus alba) have smooth glabrous leaves and shorter fruits (under 1 inch). To make things more complicated, they can hybridize!

montreal home inspection said...

Oh how i hate cicadas because they are breaking my ears . I remember when we had our group study just last last week and we really can't concentrate ! Thanks to this blog . Now I know why there are many cicadas last week .

wordpress developers said...

Mosquitoes are always present anytime of the year . My classmate got dengue fever because of this insect .

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