June was a month of glorious weather, the temperatures comfortably average and the rainfall just right. We will need to remind ourselves of just how pleasant this stretch was, when the true heat of summer arrives. How often does it actually rain about once a week and roughly an inch +/- at a time? Only quibble was with the timing, which often made it too wet for our Sunday morning crew to help with hoeing. Both crops and weeds grew very well, so we were quite busy. We did, however, take a little time for photography, so there are lots of pictures this month.
Featured reptiles of the month: June is mating season for Three-Toed Box Turtles. This Fence Lizard hung out for a while on the screen of the greenhouse .
Featured amphibians of the month: The greenish tree frog on the left is actually a Grey Treefrog. Right: The terrestrial phase of the Central Newt’s life cycle is called an eft. This one visited the greenhouse one evening.
Featured odonates of the month: Left: Ebony Jewelwing male, a type of damselfly, observed near the stream. Right: Spangled Skimmer male, a type of dragonfly, observed near the pond.
Featured beneficial insects of the month: Ladybug larva & adult, both on timothy. Bumblebee on milkweed. Right: Potter Wasp nest on asparagus. First time we’ve ever seen these here. They’re considered beneficial because the adults put paralyzed caterpillars in the nests for the young to eat. I confirmed this when I found a nest that had accidentally made it into the compost pile on the stem of a weed; since I didn’t know if it had been cooked in the compost, I opened it up to see what was inside and sure enough found several green caterpillars.
Featured flowers of the month: Wild petunia and rose.
Featured pests of the month: Left, grasshopper, unknown species, on wild black raspberry. Right: Caterpillar on eggplant. These went to town on the eggplant when the row cover was on; one round of squishing post row-cover removal took care of most of them. Many had rolled an edge of a leaf over for shelter with some silk-like threads. Not certain of ID. Maybe the Tobacco Budworm (Heliothis virescens). Anyone know for sure?
Left: Treehopper (Enchenopa spp., we think) on hop tree. Also saw some of these on redbud. Middle: Nymph of an herbaceous-plant dwelling treehopper, perhaps genus Ceresa; these were quite prevalent on some vegetables this month, causing minor damage. Right: Parasitoid of the Ceresa nymph. Squished a specimen and started to see a white squiggly thing. Thought process went along the lines of “hey, insects don’t have intestines, what the heck is that?” Soon it became clear that it was a parasitoid, and we assumed horsehair worm at first, though after consulting Garden Insects of North America, we’re not sure if it is a horsehair worm or a nematode.
Featured blood suckers of the month: Left: Lone Star Tick male (we think). All in all, tick numbers didn’t seem particularly high for June. Right: Horsefly. Though present and annoying, horsefly numbers weren’t too bad, either. Maximum nightly one-person swat/kill count (our informal measure of how bad they are) for the month was only 5 or 6, but is is still early in the season for horseflies….
Featured lepidopterans of the month: American Lady Butterfly, Spotted Apatelodes Moth on sage, Mourning Cloak Butterfly. Butterflies seemed especially prolific at the beginning of the month, but seemed to be less abundant later on; perhaps multiple rounds of rain were hard on them?
In June 2013 we recorded far more birds than in the previous two years, and with this year’s numbers going back to “normal” it seems that something unusual was going on then. We are now unfortunately certain that our Broad-Winged Hawks aren’t back this year, after three years enjoying their presence hunting the pastures and woods of our valley. Robins and sparrows were also oddly absent, for which we have no particular explanation other than being busy and perhaps not noticing an occasional visit. Robins seem to be sporadic visitors here in the summer anyway. We think we heard some of the mimics during the month, but never confirmed. The Bobwhite Quail was heard on a single morning during the month, very clear & loud (not a mimic), but we suspect that upon finding no prospective mates, the bird moved on.
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