Kaw Valley Almanac
this week’s Almanac
Some people get confused between poison ivy and virginia creeper this time of year because their leaves both turn red. But virginia creeper has blue berries; poison ivy’s are white.
Insects continue to be prolific, with lots of monarchs and other butterflies, dragonflies, cicadas, grasshoppers, mantids and walking sticks, and katydids and moths after dark. Help tag monarchs from 8 a.m. to noon this Saturday at the Baker Wetlands Discovery Center.
With morning lows dropping into the 60s and even 50s this week, it’s the season for fog. If there is no wind, you can sometimes see steam devils, which like dust devils are caused by warming air rising in a vortex that is made visible in this case by fog.
As the Dog Days of summer slip away, here is a picture of a Sun Dog Day, taken on Sunday, with mini-rainbow bright spots to the right and left of the setting sun. Sun Dogs are caused by sunlight reflecting off ice crystals in cirrus clouds formed by an isolated thunderstorm that injected moisture into the stratosphere.
Monarch butterflies have benefitted from enough moisture and not too much heat to recolonize well in this region.
Showy partridge pea, a native annual, yellow-flowered legume, has begun to bloom in area prairies. Ragweed will be pollinating soon.
The Perseid meteor shower will be peaking Wednesday evening/Thursday morning after midnight, and with moonless skies, if the clouds don’t interfere, you could see more than 100 meteors per hour.
When it gets too hot and dry, some animals aestivate, a type of summer hibernation where they typically hole up in the ground and wait for cooler, moister conditions.
Now is the time to enjoy the purple wildflower called gayfeather or blazing star.
Katydids fill the night with their song and lightning bugs and crickets continue. With cicadas droning in the daytime heat and the full moon, the evening is full of wildlife activity – look for treefrogs on your window, ready to catch a moth or two.
There are still wild raspberries and blackberries for the picking, check currants, wild plums and gooseberries, while elderberries are beginning to form and will be ripening in a few weeks.
Recent rains have caused many mushrooms to emerge, including fairy rings, which are caused by the fungus spreading out in an ever expanding circle from where it started, living on dead plant material that it breaks down.
Wildflower fireworks continue, including yellow black-eyed susans, red butter-fly milkweed and purple prairie clover. This Independence Day, celebrate by visiting a prairie near you to appreciate how everything is really delightfully interdependent!
As fireworks season approaches, now is the perfect time to enjoy the pink bursts of color on sensitive brier, with each pink filament tipped with a bright yellow anther like a spark.
Many animals are becoming more nocturnal to beat the heat these days, and with the waxing moon, expect more night activity, so be careful when you drive in the country after dark.
Mulberries are ripe, elderberries and blackberries are blooming and wild raspberries are forming. But don’t forget about ticks and chiggers if you are out picking berries!