This July really ought to be discussed in two parts. The first 3 weeks or so, it was seasonal to warm and really dry: we only recorded 0.25″ of rain through July 20. That’s worse than the equivalent period in July 2012, in the midst of the brutal drought. We were getting really worried about a growing repeat of that year, especially given the less than two inches recorded in all of June. As we noted in last month’s natural post, “With some reasonable rain soon, we could be primed for a nice summer”. It took another three weeks, but then two and a half inches in the last ten days turned things around and got us headed into August with wonderfully seasonal to cool temperatures. All in all, we’ll look back on this month with fondness, now that we know how it ends. Still, only 2.71″ total compared to a monthly average of 4.37″ means we remain in a dry spell that could quickly turn problematic again.
Dragonflies have been really active this month, with clouds of them hovering over the field, presumably vacuuming up all sorts of crop pests. Same for birds; we always enjoy the diversity of insect-eaters that congregate among the crops, flitting about through the plants and trellises while using the fences as hunting perches. It’s an ecological vibrancy we find very rewarding. We managed to photograph some especially interesting creatures:
Above: Mating Luna Moths.
Above left: Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Above right: Caterpillar of the Cecropia Moth.
Japanese Beetle populations have been the highest we’ve ever experienced (though we’ve heard account & seen photos of much worse). Wild grape & wild rose have been hit pretty hard, and our young apple trees have suffered the most damage of domestic crops. Otherwise, insect pest populations levels haven’t been terribly problematic. However, we did find two insect pests that we don’t recall previously finding here: 1) Whiteflies set up shop on eggplant & potatoes in July and 2) we found a single Harlequin Bug in on of the young brassica plantings.
Wild Turkeys have been a major presence this month, with a large flock using our north pasture on a near-daily basis. There’s a stretch of wheat nearby which we never finished harvesting, and they’ve been grazing on that every day while roosting in the pasture trees. Eric sees them almost every morning when he goes out to do animal chores; the highest one-time count has been 5 adult hens and 14 young. On to the bird list:
RECORDED IN JULY (45 species, 2 new relative to June, 12
unobserved since June). Great Blue Heron
Red-Tailed Hawk (killed a rooster 7/12)
Louisiana Waterthrush [likely here, but failed to record]