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.
The middle of September marks the peak of Missouri’s monarch migration sensation. To escape cold weather, they migrate south to the forests high in the mountains of Mexico. It can take monarchs two months to make the 1,500-mile trip! One of the mysteries of the butterfly world is how monarchs find their overwintering site. Somehow they find their way, even though the butterflies returning to Mexico each fall are the great-greatgrandchildren of the butterflies that left the previous spring. Learn more at monarchwatch.org.
As summer cools down, turn up the heat on your archery skills. Practice bull’s-eyeing your target from a variety of distances and get ready for archery deer season (from September 15 through November 14; and November 26 through January 15). Learn more about archery deer and turkey regulations at mdc.mo.gov/ node/3917. Don’t have a bow? Learn how to make your own longbow at mdc.mo.gov/node/23955.
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!
A millipede’s name means “1,000 feet.” Although it doesn’t have quite that many, that army of feet sure gives it a leg up to burrow down deep into dirt and piles of leaves. Millipedes like damp and dark places. On your next hike, dig down a few inches next to an old stump to study them. Remember — each body segment has two pairs of legs. They don’t sting or bite, but some can emit a foul-smelling substance. Beware of biting centipedes — they only have one pair of legs per body segment.
Take a walk under a towering oak and you may see dozens of acorns sprouting. Carefully dig up a few and you’ll see the newly emerged taproot sprouting from the acorn. These perfect little trees-tobe are easy to transport to another ideal spot. There, you can replant them and improve the odds of watching another mighty oak grow.
What’s small and gray, flies at 40 miles per hour, and performs mid-air dips and dives that would make a stunt pilot queasy? It’s a mourning dove, and there’s nothing more challenging than trying to drop a few with a shotgun. Dove season opens September 1, so grab an adult, put on some camouflage, and pack plenty of shells. Doves flock to fields with lots of seeds and bare ground — mowed sunflower fields are perfect. For tips, visit xplormo.org/ node/15696.
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.
Bur oaks produce the largest acorns of any tree in Missouri. The nuts, which are covered by fuzzy “caps,” drop in the fall to the delight of squirrels and other animals. Uneaten acorns can grow into massive trees. Missouri’s largest bur oak is 90 feet tall, with limbs that spread 150 feet and a trunk 8 feet wide. The tree has been living near the Missouri River south of Columbia for about 400 years.
Let’s ditch this pad! When startled, bullfrogs squeak out short, high-pitched yelps as they hop to safety. When they’re looking for mates, male bullfrogs make calls that sound like deep, rumbling burps. The calls can be heard more than half a mile away. Males battle for the best calling spots, pushing and shoving each other like slippery, green sumo wrestlers.
Nichole LeClair Terrill