Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Phenology - October

As October begins, start listening as the trill of field crickets replaces the nighttime chorus of frogs.


Golden rod and asters are blooming.  Goldenrod pollen is nothing to sneeze at - it gets all the blame for ragweed pollen.  Asters provide much needed late season nectar.

Pigmy rattlesnake

Snakes den up and find sites to overwinter.

We think about birds that migrate away to the south from the Ozarks, but juncos migrate down from Canada to the Ozarks for the winter.  

Trills of field crickets will be replacing the frog chorus in the fading light.  Jay Barber tells us that the jumping bush cricket is the last one to sing before winter hits.  Tune in to learn its song here.

With the first cold snap, lady beetles begin to congregate in houses and outbuildings, covering a small space as though to share each others' warmth.  Turn on the furnace and they will be flying around in the house, leaving a little stink if they are squished.

October 29 is average first day of frost in the Ozarks.  When the first hard freeze is predicted, get out early in the morning to look for frost flowers.  They are extruded from the base of frost weed (Verbesina virginica) and other plants.  You may be able to report a new parent species!

Blue jay with acorn
Not only do squirrels and chipmunks gather acorns for their winter feed but the blue jay does too! Blue jays carry food in their throat and upper esophagus—an area often called a “gular pouch.” They may store 2-3 acorns in the pouch, another one in their mouth, and one more in the tip of the bill. In this way they can carry off 5 acorns at a time to store for later feeding. Six birds with radio transmitters each cached 3,000-5,000 acorns one autumn. 

Their fondness for acorns and their accuracy in selecting and burying acorns that have not been infested with weevils are credited with spreading oak trees after the last glacial period.  Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Peak fall colors are coming.  These are just a few of the types of oak leaves you will see.



  1. Great article...phenology makes nature even more entertaining when you know what to look for! However, this is the first attribution I have seen for the Silvery Checkerspot using asters as a larval host plant. I have seen it listed as a host plant for the Pearl Crescent that looks very similar. Are you trying to confuse me?

  2. I try to confuse my editor, but you, never! Check out silvery checkerspot on BAMONA (http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/) where they list black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia), sunflowers (Helianthus) as host plants, all of which are in the aster family. Hope this helps.