July 2022 Nature Almanac

Eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa)
Eastern Prickly Pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) in my garden.

Here in Philadelphia…

Summer is here! June was actually full of beautiful sunny days with enough rain for explosive plant growth. The Lantern Fly is back, a few here and there in my garden. I keep a spray bottle of insecticidal soap to knock out the pest. I wrote about Lantern Fly traps here.

There are many birds in my neighborhood. I hear them in the evening as they call and sing to each other. Check out the posts on the “Birding: Best Bird Posts” on this blog.

My kitchen garden is growing and the cucumber plants are full of tiny cucumbers. The tomatoes have grown over a foot in the last 5 days. The warm days and rainy nights must be just the kind of weather they need.

July is usually hot, hot, hot in Philly. I am not looking forward to it.

Swarms of midges
Swarms of midges. Credit: NOAA

Did You Know…

…insect swarms are how male and female insects find each other for mating purposes? Most insects in swarms are male but any female that joins the swarm quickly find a mate.

Non-biting Midge Photo:
Katja Schulz from Washington, D. C., USA, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

The swarms commonly consist of non-biting midges, small two-winged relatives of flies, hovering  2 to 20 feet above the ground.


roma tomatoe harvest
Roma tomatoes ready for canning.

July 2022 Environmental News – All the (mostly) good news that’s fit to print

Business Embedded in “Nature”

It seems to have finally dawned on the financial folks and the corporate heads, that their business and finances are embedded in the Earth and her biodiversity. Who knew?

The Masters of Universe who “run the world”, have now realized they won’t be living high above Earth in an artificial biosphere or a bio-engineered planet, and that their future and life is tied to all the rest of us, maybe things just got a bit more hopeful. What do you think?

For those who are interested and need a break from preparing their Plan B, read the following article which outlines the methods and reports the corporate world use to assess “environmental risk”.  Read the Vox article, “Why investors suddenly care about saving the environment.”


Positive and Upbeat

The health of our Mother Earth is distressing. It can feel like we are providing hospice care for her and us. Let’s stay hopeful and upbeat. Here are all the positive environmental stories from 2022 so far from Euronews.com

Urine for better tomatoes

Serious, hard-core organic gardeners have been using human urine to fertilize gardens for thousands of years. Human urine is usually sterile and full of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium the key nutrients for plant growth and health. And it’s free and super locally available. See “Human urine could be an effective and less polluting crop fertilizer.”

prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa)
prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) in my garden.

July 2022 Native Plant of the Month: Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa)

My Eastern Prickly Pear is blooming. The delicate golden yellow blossoms open wide in the morning. Insects crawl all over the fleshy leaves and delicate paper-like blooms.

As noon approaches, the petals close half way shut Last year the plant had just one bloom and no more. I didn’t realize the blooms lasted for just one day. So, I didn’t get a photo.

Eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa)
Eastern Prickly Pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) in my garden.

This member of the cactus family is actually indigenous to the Philadelphia area. It is the only cactus native to the Northeast.  I first saw this plant at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. The plant I have was given to me from a neighbor.

There are more surprises to this plant. Read my post for more about the Eastern Prickly Pear.

Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans)
Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans). Lewis Hulbert, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Invasive Species of the Month: Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans)

.One way to curb the destructiveness of the invasive Lionfish is to make leather. That’s right, leather made out of fish skin.

The Lionfish is devastating coral reefs in Atlantic waters from Florida to the Caribbean and Brazil to the Mediterranean. The Lionfish eats young marine life depleting coral reefs of life.

Read more about the project to make fish leather at  “Fish Leather is here, it’s sustainable, and it’s made from an invasive species to boot”.  on theGuardian. com. Also see “What is a Lionfish?”  (https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/).


Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) in Donna's Garden
Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) in Donna’s Garden.

The July 2022 Nature Almanac

What to Observe, Draw, and Photograph Right Now

This month’s moon is the Raspberry Moon, the berries are ripening now

  • Male deer (bucks) are growing their antlers. For hunter’s this month is the Buck Moon
  • Black-eyed Susan bloom this moon
  • Adult Gypsy moths emerge
  • Planets can now bee seen in the night sky around midnight
  • Damp warm air the ideal climate for growing corn. Beware allergy sufferers
  • The Dog Days (July 3 – August 11) are the traditionally hottest days of the year
  • Delta Aquarid predawn meteor shower July 30th  in the southern sky
  • Season Dates

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.

July 2022: In the Sky This Month

July 6th – First Quarter

July 13th – Full Moon

July 20th – Last Quarter

July 28th – New Moon

  • New moon always rises near sunrise
  • First Quarter near noon
  • Full Moon always rises near sunset
  • Winter Full Moons are high in the sky
  • Last Quarter near midnight
  • Moonrise occurs about 50 minutes later each day

June 2022 Nature Almanac

July 2021 Nature Almanac

That’s it for this issue. Look for the next issue at the end of July 2022.


  1. Thank you for another interesting post.

    Have you noticed temperatures getting hotter where you live? I live in the UK and average summer temperatures over the last 30 years have increased by almost 1 degree C and our winters are getting much wetter causing flooding. I know that in some countries (Pakistan & Iraq) temperatures have been very high this year, on the brink of what human life can survive It is very worrying and sadly there seems to be a lot of talk but not much action. I’m glad you posted some good news stories to remind me it’s not all bad news.

    • Hi Anne, Thanks for your comment. I’ve heard about Pakistan & Iraq, too. My heart is heavy when I think about the suffering there. I was talking to a climate-denier I know and I reminded him that space has no oxygen, no water, you have to take all your own food, and that astronauts say space has a burning smell. He was genuinely shocked. There actually are people here who think they will escape the coming troubles because they are not poor, not a person of color, don’t live in the southern hemisphere, they’ll immigrate to another planet and that God likes them best. Not kidding. Our climate has warmed here in Philly. About twenty years ago the USDA changed the gardening zones here in the US. The higher the zone the warmer the climate. Climate not just weather. Philly went from 6a/6b to 7a/7b. It warms up so fast in the spring, there are cool season crops I no longer try to grow. The first week of this past May, saw a 97 degree F (36 degrees C) day. It’s usually in the 70s (21 C). To ease anxiety I focus on preparing for the events that lie ahead, Plan B.

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