Another busy and late night but a productive one. I added several more species to the checklist but this one was already on the list after I found a caterpillar of the species last fall. It is the Laurel Sphinx Moth (Sphinx kalmiae). There is an abundance of potential food plants (ash and lilac) for this moth to choose from right around my house so I am hoping to find a few caterpillars later this summer.
More flowers on shrubs and trees from around here. Trees like red maple (Acer rubrum) and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) and shrubs such as tag alder (Alnus incana), hazel (Corylus spp.), and willow (Salix spp.) are the first flowers of spring appearing before the more familiar spring ephemeral wildflowers that grow in forests.
Soon there will be other flowers in bloom. Hepatica (Anemone americana), stalked sedge (Carex pedunculata), and wood rush (Luzula acuminata) will come into flower in the next few days. These low growing plants occupy spaces on the forest floor and today on one of my rambles I noticed that many already have unopened flower buds.
Here it is already April 12 and there is still two feet of snow on the ground and more in the forecast. Temperatures have been hovering around freezing with occasional warm days in the mid-40s followed by nights near zero. Ice is still on the lakes in Minnesota when at this time of year it should be breaking up.
In just over two weeks it will be May and I am wondering what that month will be like. During most years in May I’d be getting my garden ready, planting onions and potatoes, and putting off mowing the lawn. At this rate all of that may have to wait until June. Instead, I need to get more gas for the snow blower just in case we get the half-foot of snow predicted. And get some more oranges and grapefruit. And mushrooms for pizza.
Below is a serenade by spring peepers and wood frogs at 3 in the afternoon on April 14th last year (hit play and the video straightens out). The high for the day was 68º F. This year it is predicted to be 29º F. Looks like the frogs will be sleeping for a few more weeks.
Its hard to believe when I walk in the woods now but last year by the second week of April almost all of the snow had melted, plants were beginning to grow in sunny patches under the trees, frogs were laying eggs, and insects from bees to bugs were active. But this year everywhere I look there is deep snow and cold temperatures. In the spruce and tamarack woods there is only the occasional call of the chickadees and nuthatches. Spring flowers are a long way off.