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June Phenology

Did You See That?

Are you observant? Phe-nol-o-gy is the study of changes in plants and animals as they respond to weather, climate, and the seasons. Each spring we anxiously await the first returning robin in the hope of warmer weather. That is a phenological event. It happens every year but the return date depends a lot on the weather. Migration and flowering are two more examples of phenological events.

Look around for the following seasonal/phenological changes...

  • Listen at night near water for the twang of a loose banjo string. This is the sound of the green frog. If you hear the sound of horses’ hooves trotting over a cobblestone street, that's the mink frog.

  • Loon chicks appear this month. You might see chicks riding on a parent's back. Remember, if you see a nest or chicks, stay back and don't disturb.

  • Bluebirds might be nesting for the second time this year.

  • The tundra swans that passed through this spring are now at their summer home near the arctic circle. The female tundra swan, called a pen, lays an average of four eggs which hatch in late June.

  • Prairie grasses like sideoats gramma and indian grass add color to the prairie this time of year.

  • Sit on the banks of a wetland and let the dragonflies dart past you at top speeds. In Wisconsin, many dragonfly nymphs change into adults this time of year.

  • The wood violet, Wisconsin's state flower, is purple and small. Look for the blooms in wet woodland and meadow areas and along roadsides.

  • Look for lupine in bloom and watch for adult Karner blue butterflies to emerge out of their cocoon-like chrysalis and feed on the nectar.

  • Ruffed grouse chicks hatch this month.

  • Dark skies bring out fireflies.

  • Wood duck young leave the nest. Ducklings take that first big step jumping from the nest hollow to follow mom.

  • Bright lights at night attract the beautiful luna moth.

  • A sure sign of summer in Wisconsin is when the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is in bloom. Watch for it later this month. If you find milkweed, you’re also likely to find monarch butterflies.

  • When you’re walking through a thick forested or grassy area, two types of ticks may check you out for a meal, so be on the lookout.



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