You Discover

By | June 1, 2012
From Xplor: June/July 2012

School’s out, and the best way to beat summer boredom is to get outside. With creeks to seek, baby animals to watch and fireflies to catch, there’s plenty to do in June and July. Here are some more things for you to discover.



Grab some friends and a jar. It’s time for a backyard big bug hunt! Which of you will find the most colossal creepy-crawly? Maybe you’ll score a Hercules beetle. The pointyheaded males are as long as your pointy finger. Pray you find a praying mantis. They can reach the size of your hand. But to score the biggest insect, you’ll need to get up before sunrise and check your porch light. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a saucer-sized cecropia moth fluttering about. Now that’s one immense insect!

Snap a photo

Photographers have a saying: “f8 and be there.” It means to take great photos, don’t fret too much about camera settings. Worry instead about being at the right spot at the right time. June 15 is Nature Photography Day, and it’s as good a day as any to get up early, grab your camera or smartphone, hit the trail, and be there. For photography tips from Nop and Dave, Xplor’s dynamic duo of shutterbugs, visit

Watch fireflies

The twilight twinkle of fireflies is a sure sign summer’s on its way. Unfortunately, the blinky-bottomed beetles have vanished from many places. Join Firefly Watch and help scientists figure out why. It’s fun and easy. All you have to do is search for fireflies in your yard or a nearby field for 10 minutes each week throughout the summer. Get the details and learn more about fireflies at


Fish take a siesta when temperatures soar. A popping bug is the perfect lure to jolt them awake. Fling a popper amongst some lily pads and let it sit for a bit. Then twitch your rod to make the popper POP. If you’re lucky, a bass will rocket up from the depths and explode at the surface to engulf your lure like a mini great white shark. All you have to do is hang on.

Bathe a bird

The beaked ones in your backyard could use a bath. Help ‘em out by building a tweetie tub. Set an old cake pan where you can watch it, preferably under a tree so birds have a place to dry off or escape the neighbor’s cat. Anchor the pan with a few heavy rocks, and pour in about an inch of water. Voilà! Your sparrow spa is complete—just remember to change the water daily to keep it fresh and mosquito-free.

Plan a sunset Picnic

Here’s a tip to beat the heat: Wait until sunset to have a picnic. When the sun drops, so does the temperature. As you munch your PB and J, you’ll be serenaded by trilling tree frogs, yipping coyotes and whip-poorwilling, um, whip-poor-wills. You’ll see bats flit in the twilight— they have to work for their meals—and watch nighthawks perform death-defying dives. After supper, you can search for shooting stars—or did someone say “s’mores”?

Don't miss the chance to Discover Nature at these fun events.

  • Go fishing during FREE-FISHING WEEKEND. Statewide, June 9–10, 2012 For details, visit
  • Savor the flavors at a WILD GAME SAMPLER. Andy Dalton Outdoor Education Center, Ash Grove, July 7, 8:30 a.m. Register at 417-742-4361
  • Learn about ticks, mosquitoes and more of Nature’s Vampires. Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, July 12, 2–8 p.m. For information, call 573-290-5218
  • Can you survive the wild? Find out at SURVIVOR DAY CAMP. Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, St. Louis, Ages 9–13 June 25–28, 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Register at 314-877-6014
  • Fling spears as our ancestors did at PRIMITIVE SKILLS—ATLATL. Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, Blue Springs July 20, 10 a.m.–noon Register at 816-228-3766

Looking for more ways to have fun outside? Find out about Discover Nature programs in your area at

What is it?

  • I’m a tot with lots of spots.
  • I have a twin, but we’re not close.
  • Do you smell something? It’s not me.
  • Doe you know where mom went?

Baby deer avoid predators by lying quietly, relying on their spots to help them hide in sun-dappled vegetation. Newborn fawns also are nearly odorless, so predators can’t sniff them out. Mother deer, called does, usually give birth to twins but stash the siblings in separate locations. If a predator finds one fawn, it won’t find the other.

Critter Corner

Red Fox

Like domesticated puppies, red fox pups love to play. They wrestle, toss feathers around, play tug-of-war with bones, and pounce on anything that moves. When they’re 10 weeks old, pups put their play into practice by tagging along with

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This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White
Kipp Woods