Kaw Valley Almanac
this week’s Almanac
You can identify many more prairie plants than you might suspect by their leaves. Wild indigo, featured in this photo, keeps its leaves on all winter long.
The sycamore leaves are dropping away, revealing the white barked limbs that will make them easy to spot in the winter. Their white figures typically line creek and river beds; look for the large nests built by herons in the biggest trees.
With the continuing drought, tree colors seem muted as is evidenced by the trees in the background; however, the sumac at Prairie Park Nature Center didn’t get the memo! Colors or not, this coming weekend is Baldwin City’s Maple Leaf Festival — check it out and take a walk with a friend, too.
Some goldenrods are still blooming, attracting a northern paper wasp on the right. These wasps are omnivores and this one clearly likes carbohydrates!
Asters of many color have begun to bloom across the state, including these purple New England asters, which also bloom as far west as the Plains states and as far south as Mississippi.
Monarch migration is in full swing, though south winds this past week have made it difficult to move ahead. This monarch was finding refuge in some goldenrod.
This gayfeather/blazing star can be found blooming into October. Its flowers attract many types of bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds, and other birds like its seeds in the winter.
Ashy sunflowers continue blooming this week. They are shorter perennial sunflowers with lighter green leaves than many other sunflowers.
Tall thistles are in the middle of their blooming season, and if you watch a fresh flower for any length of time, you will see any number of pollinators coming to check out their sweetness.
Walking sticks are around and about, as are praying mantises, which are superficially similar. Praying mantises blend in to the vegetation to catch unsuspecting prey, while walking sticks blend in so they don’t become prey.
Pitcher’s sage, also known as blue sage or Salvia azurea, has begun to bloom in some northeast Kansas prairies and will continue to grace late summer prairies for the next month or so.
Ornate box turtles are found in every county in Kansas. These fine omnivores beat the heat this time of year by burrowing and being active in the coolest parts of the day.
Sumac produces seedheads that can be collected and the crushed berries soaked and strained create a delicious “sumac-ade.”
This beautiful little moth with furry legs is found throughout eastern North America. Take your own photos of moths and submit them to nationalmothweek.org all week long!
Ironweed is a sturdy perennial that attracts butterflies and other pollinators this time of year. The purple blossoms are like a daisy without the “petals” and supposedly provide a brief, sweet chew.
Pollinators and their predators are very busy these days: flies, moths, butterflies, beetles, as well as spiders, wasps and other predators. Watch a clump of flowers to catch the unfolding drama.