Here in Philadelphia…
The Dog Days of Summer are upon us and it is hot. The week of July 17th, the temperatures were in the 90s all week with little rain. Which was a blessing most days.
The Dog Days is the period from July 3rd through August 11th or so, each year. These are generally the hottest and most miserable days of the year. The term “dog days” is from the ancient Greeks and Romans, named after the Sirius, the Dog Star which rises with the Sun. These ancient peoples believed the heat form Sirius and the Sun combined to give us the hottest days of the year.
Our Dog Days heat is due to the tilt of the Earth. The Sun’s rays hit the Earth in a more direct angle during these days.
My Kitchen Garden
My kitchen garden is looking good despite the heat. The cucumbers are struggling, with wilting during the day. But that’s normal. The cucumber stems are thin and don’t transport large quantities of water throughout the plant, so the plants wilt during midday. It’s been so dry, I have to water them every couple of days. But they have been producing cucumbers like gangbusters!
Harvested this month: parsley, cucumbers, asian eggplants, swiss chard, lettuce (heat-resistant until last week), and Lebanese squash. Still waiting for tomatoes, beans, and melons.
Did You Know?
The best way to learn to identify hummingbirds is by watching a feeder? Those of you in the western region of the continent who have a variety of hummers in your area, are blessed with several kinds to distinguish between.
Us easterners basically have one kind, the Ruby-throated. But that doesn’t exempt us from hummingbird study. Sometimes I’m too quick to say a hummer is a Ruby-throated with just a glance. I could be wrong.
A feeder with several birds of the same or different species, gives us an opportunity to note size differences between the sexes and ages. Learn to tell juveniles from adults. Use binoculars to see individual details, such as feather patterns.
See my post on Attracting Hummingbirds
Native Plant of the Month: Summer Phlox
This month’s native plant is the Summer Phlox. The Summer Phlox blooms when the days are sultry. My flowers started blooming just as the Dog Days reved up. Here is a post about my favorite summer flower.
See also Summer Blooming Native Flowers
Invasive Species for August 2022: Asian Tiger Mosquito
The bite of these insects, hurt! The Asian tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus, is an invasive species native to Southeast Asia. It arrived in North America in a shipment of use tires form Northern Asia Why the U.S. needs to import used tires is mystery to me, but that’s how this pest arrived.
I noticed three summers ago that the mosquito bites I received while in my backyard hurt more than in the past. And the mosquitoes I slapped as they sucked away at my blood, had black and white striped legs. I had to identify these new vampires. That’s when I learned about the Asian Tiger Mosquito.
I removed my self-watering containers from my garden along with any plant saucers where water collected. The mosquitoes still made working in my garden miserable. And then I found out how to get rid of mosquitoes.
How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes
At the beginning of the summer I stumbled across a video by Doug Tallamy of Bringing Nature Home fame. He explained how to get rid of mosquitoes and I figured he should know since he is an entomologist and professor of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware.
I gathered my supplies (a bucket of water, straw, and mosquito dunks). I filled the bucket of water half-fulll of water, and placed a light covering of straw on top of the water. I waited a few days for the straw to ferment, then added a mosquito dunk.
And in a few days I saw wriggling mosquito larva in the bucket which I sprayed with insecticidal soap. The larva still wrinkled. I waited and they were still alive and growing bigger the next day. Finally I dipped the larva out with spoons, crushed them and left them to dry out in the hot summer Sun.
I’ve repeated the bucket routine four times. Now my garden is relatively free of mosquitoes, particularly the Asian Tiger Kind. I kept the bucket filled and check it everyday.
Here is the original video by Doug Tallamy.
August 2022 Good Environmental News
“Tribal leaders and federal officials to oversee Bear Ears together” WashingtonPost.com
“Kākāpō Population Soars to its Highest in Almost 50 Years” – GoodNewsNetwork.org (Kakapo is a giant parrot)
“Botanical Researchers Are ‘Thrilled’ After Discovering an Oak Tree Once Thought to Be Extinct” – GoodNewsNetwork.org
“Gone for Thousands of Years, Wild Bison Return to the UK” EnvironmentalNewsNetwork.com
Citizen Science Projects
The squirrels have eaten every Asian eggplant and most of the cherry tomatoes in my garden. The sunflowers don’t have long either. I know they are hungry but so am I. If you aren’t similarly disgusted with the little bandits, perhaps you might be interested in these five squirrel-themed projects on SciStarter.org.
August 2022 Nature Almanac
What to Observe, Draw, and Photograph Right Now
- Hummingbirds at feeders – See Attracting Hummingbirds
- The few plants that manage to thrive in summer heat
- Keep track of the Dog Days, star positions, temperatures, and humidity
- Observe duck eclipse plumage
- Hummingbirds are migrating south, notice when they leave using phenology
Summer Solstice June 21 at 5:14 a.m. EDT in the Northern Hemisphere. For natural-living people this is summer’s midpoint the beginning.
Summer last 93 days and 15 hours from the Summer Solstice on June 21, 2022 until the Autumn Equinox on September 22, 2022.
August 2022 Nature Almanac: In the Sky This Month
The next full moon will occur on August 11 and is known as the “Sturgeon Moon.” It will also be a supermoon — the final one of the year.
July 28th – New Moon – Green Corn Moon
August 5th – First Quarter Green Corn Moon
August 11th – Full Green Corn Moon
August 19th – Last Quarter Green Corn Moon
August 27th – New Moon – Full Corn Moon
- New moon always rises near sunrise, sets at sunset
- First Quarter near noon, Rises at noon, sets at midnight
- Full Moon always rises near sunset, sets at sunrise
- Last Quarter rises near midnight, sets at noon
- Moonrise occurs about 50 minutes later each day
August 1 – 3, You can see green Uranus next to orange Mars through binoculars during morning twilight begins (the early dawn).
August 11 -13 – The Perseid meteor showers happen in the predawn hours. They originate in the NE area of the sky. This is also the time of the full Moon. The Full Moon rises near sunset, and sets at sunrise justs as the meteors shoot across the sky. The light from the Moon is obscure a clear look at the meteors.
That’s it for this issue. Look for the next issue at the end of August.
My Latest Nature Guide
Butterfly Life: How Butterflies are Born, Live, and Support the Earth’s Ecosystems, $4.99 pdf, Read more here.
More Nature Almanacs
The next almanac October 2022 Nature Almanac
Last month: July 2022 Nature Almanac
Last July: July 2021 Nature Almanac
The WayBack Machine: Naturalist News Summer 2013