There’s tons of fun in the sun for you to discover in June and July. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Fish turn finicky when the weather gets steamy. Coax carp and catfish to bite with this homemade bait. Cut the crusts off two slices of bread. Spread peanut butter on each slice. Add just enough water to make the bread slightly soggy then squish it up with your hands. To really drive fish into a feeding frenzy, mix in something stinky, such as garlic powder, cinnamon, or bacon grease. Roll the dough into marble-sized balls, pinch a ball onto a treble hook, cast the hook into a pond, and get ready for a fight.
If you find more berries than you can eat — we should all be so lucky — turn some of them into paint. Put half a cup of berries into a bowl and use a fork to smoosh them into mush. Stir in 1/4 cup of water and pour the mixture through a sieve to strain out seeds. Blackberries make dark purple paint, raspberries make red, and mulberries make pinkish-purple. The paint works best on watercolor paper, but it will stain nearly anything, so be careful!
Fungus-finding fun doesn’t end when morels vanish in May. Summer offers plenty of fungi to forage for — if you’re willing to sweat a bit. Chanterelle (shan-tur-ell) mushrooms are easy to identify and yummy to eat. Look for the yellow, trumpetshaped ‘shrooms in oak-hickory forests throughout Missouri. Few mushrooms look like chanterelles, but you should always have an adult double-check your fungi before you feast. For ID tips and recipes, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/4121.
Streams are nature’s blood vessels, and about 110,000 miles of water-filled arteries flow through Missouri. Like human arteries, streams can get plugged up by trash, dirt, and unwanted critters. You can help. Join a Stream Team to keep thriving streams clean and nurse sick ones back to health. Plus, nothing beats splashing in a stream when the sun starts to sizzle. To sign up, flow over to mostreamteam.org.
Hey you, take a hike! No, really. June 1 is National Trails Day, and thousands of kids and adults will celebrate America’s tangle of trails by taking a walk in the woods. Missouri recently was named "Best Trails State," and for good reason. Nearly 700 miles of trails zigzag through conservation areas, including 40 miles of the beautiful and rugged Ozark Trail.
Summer’s a great time to explore a shore, whether it’s a pond, stream, or marsh. To get a close-up look at the creatures that live there, duct tape a large kitchen sieve to the end of a broomstick. (Ask your parents before you swipe a sieve!) Swish the sieve through the water — especially around plants and algae — and see what gets trapped in the strainer. Bring a magnifying lens for a better look at ittybitty creepy-crawlies.
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.
Luna moths flutter April through August, but many folks never see them because lunas come out about midnight. Female lunas attract males with pheromones, which are like perfumes. To scare predators, lunas have wing spots that look like large, glaring eyes. Adult lunas lack mouths and can’t eat. The only thing fueling their flight is fat put on when they were caterpillars. When the fat runs out, they die.
Is that a crawfish stuck in your craw? In coastal areas, yellow-crowned night-herons focus their feeding on crabs. Here in Missouri, they target crayfish. Yellow crowns have shorter and thicker beaks than most herons. Although they swallow small prey whole, their burly beaks come in handy to pluck off pincers and crush shells of larger, crankier crustaceans.
Nichole LeClair Terrill