Ways to connect with nature
Butterfly weed, Missouri’s only milkweed with bright orange flowers, blooms through September. It’s one of our few truly orange native flowers. While you’re admiring it, keep an eye out for coral hairstreak butterflies. This uncommon butterfly has been described as addicted to the blossoms of butterfly weed — other flowers are practically ignored when this plant is present. Another uncommon visitor this month? Bella moths. Also called the calico or rattlebox moth, this is one of the most beautiful moths in North America. It’s active during the day, feeding on goldenrods, but look for bella moths at night near light.
Early Morning Caller
A variety of flying insects, including click and scarab beetles, crane flies, and plume moths, are attracted to lights at night. Many of them hang around until morning. Look for them on the side of your house in the early morning hours.
Time for Wine
Missouri’s summer grape matures in July. Look for its dark blue to black globe-shaped berries. This species, in its “Norton” hybrid/cultivar form, is the state’s official grape. Producing a dry, “big” red wine with complex flavors, Norton is the cornerstone of the Missouri wine industry. It is probably the oldest native American grape variety used for commercial wine production.
You may notice your lawn or ornamental plants dotted with webs. Each of these webs is home to a grass spider. Grass spiders build delicate, sheetlike webs in grass and shrubs. They live beneath them and come out to catch their prey, keeping the insect population in check. If you tap on one of these webs with a stick, you might capture the spider’s attention and it may emerge thinking it has caught dinner!
Flowering Frenzy Many of our native wildflowers, including several varieties of sunflowers, coneflowers, and black- and brown-eyed Susans, begin blooming in July. To help you identify wildflowers, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Zri.
Thursday • July 15 • 12–1 p.m.
Virtual event at Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO 64110
Registration required at the Deep Roots website at deeproots.org/native-plants-at-noon
Virtually tour the native landscape at MDC’s Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center. Guided by native landscape specialists Alix Daniel and Cydney Ross, this monthly series features a live look at native plants of interest throughout the year. This program is a partnership with Deep Roots.
Natural Events to See This Month
Here’s what’s going on in the natural world.
- Bluegill nesting continues into late July.
- Southern red-backed salamanders lay eggs through July.
- Eastern bluebirds are territorial during breeding.
- Broad-banded watersnakes can have up to 40 young in one litter.
- Young striped skunks begin foraging.
Also In This Issue
This Issue's Staff
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler