With summer winding down and autumn gearing up, there’s plenty to discover outside in August and September. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Bur oak acorns can grow larger than a golf ball. Pin oak acorns are usually smaller than gum balls. Some acorns are round; others are oval-shaped. Gather acorns in a variety of shapes and sizes to make a-corny mosaic. Once you decide upon a design, glue the acorns by their caps to a piece of cardboard. Place your mosaic under a tree and weight it down with rocks. Hungry chipmunks, squirrels and blue jays will soon stop by for a snack and lend a paw—or beak—to transform your art.
By the time you read this, athletes from throughout the world will have gathered in London for the Olympics. Why not gather some friends and host your own Olympics—with a wild twist? Instead of awarding medals to the fastest swimmer or highest jumper, see who can spot the most birds, catch the heaviest fish or capture the biggest bug. For other event ideas, sprint to xplormo.org/node/18169.
Male white-tailed deer grow a new pair of antlers every year. Throughout spring and summer, newly sprouted antlers are cloaked in a fuzzy covering called velvet. In the fall, bucks scrape off the velvet by rubbing their antlers against small trees and shrubs. Head to the woods in September to search for “buck rubs.” If you find some, it’s a good bet there’s a buck nearby!
The Katy Trail is Missouri’s longest and skinniest state park, stretching 237 miles from the town of Machens in the east to Clinton in the west. Late September, when temperatures have cooled and trees are beginning to show spectacular fall color, is a great time to bike a stretch of the Katy. Nearly a dozen conservation areas line the trail and offer places to fish, camp, explore or just make a scenic pit stop. To plan your trip, pedal over to katytrailstatepark.com.
Cool autumn weather can make catfish hungry. So dig up some worms, grab a cane pole and find a stream. Search for trees that have overturned in the water. Minnows and insects hide in the roots, and hungry catfish lurk nearby hoping for an easy meal. Drop a baited hook upstream of the roots and let the current pull your bait toward the target. If you feel a tug, set the hook and hang on! For more catfishing tips, cast a line to mdc.mo.gov/node/7567.
Arachnologists (scientists who study spiders) estimate that a typical acre of Missouri is home to between 30,000 and 2.5 million spiders. Most spiders go unnoticed, but in early fall, orb weavers announce their presence by spinning spectacular webs in gardens and near houses. The webs offer the perfect opportunity to watch the eight-legged animals in action. To become a true spider insider, see how many webbuilder behaviors you can check off our spider-spotter list at xplormo.org/node/18168.
Don't miss the chance to Discover Nature at these fun events.
Looking for more ways to have fun outside? Find out about Discover Nature programs in your area at xplormo.org/node/2616.
Giant swallowtails are Missouri’s largest butterflies. They start life as caterpillars that look like bird droppings. Looking yucky helps the caterpillar avoid being eaten. If a bird figures out the disguise, the caterpillar waves a forked organ that resembles a snake’s tongue. If that doesn’t scare away the bird, the caterpillar sprays a stinky fluid.
Nichole LeClair Terrill