Monday, August 6, 2012

Things to Look For in August

As the temperatures and humidity hover at their yearly highs, I've been soaking through my t-shirts on walks lately. But there's still plenty to see outside, if you're in town and you're willing to put up with a little sweat. Links are to previous LOOK FOR posts:

meteor
Photo credit: Rongem Boyo
The Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 11 -- a Saturday night, with a crescent moon that won't interfere with the show until early morning. The shower has already started, it just isn't at its peak yet...you have increasing chances of seeing shooting stars all week.
ruby-throated hummingbird on cardinal flower
hummingbird on cardinal flower in our yard
We've been seeing hummingbirds in our yard nearly every day. What a treat to watch them go from hovering in mid-air, to zipping away, fast as lightning.
monarch caterpillar
Monarch larva by The Natural Capital
Monarch butterflies are laying their eggs, and if you look closely on milkweed, you may see some stripey caterpillars. Every year, we bring a few inside and raise them. It's a pretty amazing process. (This post on raising monarchs has been one of the all-time most popular posts on the Natural Capital.)

joe pye weed
Joe Pye weed by Garden Beth
Joe Pye Weed is another butterfly magnet at this time of year -- not so much for the monarchs as for the swallowtails. Keep an eye out for Joe Pye weed in wetland areas and then watch for the butterflies...look closely and you'll find lots of other pollinators, too.

Passion Flower Close-Up
Passionflower by Texas Eagle
Joe Pye is one of our tallest flowers; passionflower is surely one of the most exotic-looking. The tropical look of this flower may lead you to think of steamy nights of passion, but the 17th century missionaries who named it claimed to have religion in mind.


Halloween pennant dragonfly
Dragonfly by afagen
Dragonflies are common sight this time of year. They hang out around water, because they lay their eggs there and spend their nymph stage as aquatic creatures. In our post we highlighted 6 common species, and shared a video of a dragonfly shedding its aquatic skin to become an adult.

Sumac berries by j.e.s.1981VA
Sumac has extremely distinctive clusters of dark red, hairy berries in the late summer. They're great for making pink lemonade! Check out our post to find out how.
Last year we really enjoyed watching a sphinx moth nectar on jimson weed by the Potomac River. So much so that we're hoping to head back to the same spot this year. If we end up just watching the sunset by the river, that's not so bad either.

What have you been seeing lately? Leave a comment and let us know!