For those with milkweed in their yards, the color and scent of the flowers adds to the landscape and may even attract monarch butterflies. But, what happens after the blooms have faded? What is the best way to maintain a patch of milkweed for both landscaping and the monarchs? Lois Stack, Horticulture Specialist and Signs of the Seasons adviser, offers some guidelines:
There are three approaches to managing a colony of milkweed. First, the milkweed can be left on its own. If there’s enough space, this is a great method because the seed heads break open and the seeds can spread in the wind. This enhances the likelihood of milkweed establishing in a new site from one of the seeds.
The second method, if the seeds are not wanted, is to remove the seed heads before they mature. Monarch larvae do not feed on the seed heads, so removing them does not threaten the insects.
Finally, if mowing is necessary, milkweed can be cut down very late in the season, after all butterfly larvae have metamorphosed from pupae into adults. If some of those pupae (called chrysalises) are still hanging on the plants, allow more time for them to mature and develop into adults. If there are no chrysalises hanging on the plants, then the plants can be mowed. Wait as long as possible before mowing. The safest timing is following a hard frost. However, if that is not possible, check for pupae in late September and decide about mowing.
Undeterred by winter weather, the first robin appeared at about the same time as the previous two years, around the beginning of April. However, not all species were as eager for spring. Leaf-out of our maple species came weeks later than prior recorded years. Learn more about data comparisons across the country by viewing the National Phenology Network’s Summary of Spring recorded webinar or compare your site to other Maine sites using the visualization tool.
Image Description: Graph of the first appearance of robins by year
Elissa Koskela, an assistant coordinator of the Signs of the Seasons program coordinated by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant, wrote an opinion piece for the Portland Press Herald about the decline of the monarch butterfly population. Signs of the Seasons is a phenology program that helps scientists document the local effects of global climate change through the work of volunteer citizen scientists who are trained to record the seasonal changes of common plants and animals in their communities.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a youth 4-H club focusing on entomology from 9 to 11 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, Aug. 4–20, at the UMaine Extension office, 28 Center St., Machias. Activities are designed to teach youth ages 8–10 about the environment through bugs. Cost is $10 per child; registration is limited to 10. For more information, to register or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.255.3345 or email email@example.com.
Imagine finding an attic full of journals detailing leaf-out, returning migratory birds and bloom times for species in Oxbow, ME. Between 1940 – 1957, L.S. Quackenbush kept detailed phenology records that have become the focus of modern day research. When scanned copies of these records were sent to Boston University, Caitlin McDonough was given the opportunity to examine change over time. Read more
For generations of folks returning each summer, the varied habitats within Acadia National Park may appear stable. However, a closer look at the historical record shows changes in both species abundance and the timing of life cycle events. Researcher Caitlin McDonough is focused on the phenology at this local site. Read more
Frank Drummond, an entomology specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and a UMaine professor of insect ecology, spoke to the Bangor Daily News about a five-year, $3.5 million research project on the role bees play in blueberry production. Drummond is leading the project that involves biologists, economists, anthropologists and graduate students from UMaine, as well as researchers from other states. Drummond said renting commercial beehives is, on average, the most expensive production cost for Maine’s blueberry growers. The project aims to study the role native bees play in blueberry pollination, the status of native bee populations, and which species of bees are best for adequate pollination. “The whole purpose of this project is to look at what are some of the best pollination strategies that growers might be able to use,” he said. The project also includes outreach to blueberry growers in the form of workshops hosted by Drummond to teach growers about pollination.
Through the process of photosynthesis, trees take in water and carbon dioxide and, in the presence of sunlight, produce oxygen. A new report in Nature Climate Change shows that Northeast forests are starting this process earlier in the spring and extending further into the fall, adjusting their phenology based on warmer temperatures. The short term result of these changes is an increased uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, the long term results are not fully known. Read more
Curious about trends and anomalies from the spring data? If you have been tracking red maples or sugar maples, your observations are part of the Northeast Green Wave. Learn how scientists are using the information from this and other campaigns in a Nature’s Notebook Webinar on Tuesday, June 10th from 2-3:30PM. Advanced registration is required.
Elissa Koskela, an assistant coordinator of the Signs of the Seasons program coordinated by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Sea Grant, wrote an opinion piece for the Bangor Daily News titled “Wondering how climate change is affecting us now? Citizen scientists have a role to play.” Signs of the Seasons is a phenology program that helps scientists document the local effects of global climate change through the work of volunteer citizen scientists who are trained to record the seasonal changes of common plants and animals in their communities.