Jul 03 2009

Milkweed or What to look for in early July

Published by at 7:48 am under Phenology

Common Milkweed close-up (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

If you've never looked at milkweed up close, this is the month to do it.

All across western Pennsylvania a wide variety of milkweed is blooming and with it come the insects who depend it, most notably monarch butterflies.

What else can you expect to see this month?

Here are the highlights for early July.

  • Most birds have fledglings or second broods.  Most bald eagles fledge in early July.  Robins are on their second or third set of eggs.
  • Cedar waxwings and American goldfinches are just starting to nest.
  • Some shorebirds begin their fall migration.  Watch for short-billed dowitchers and yellowlegs at pond edges.
  • The first cicadas begin calling.  In Pittsburgh they used to emerge around July 15th but I've noticed that date has moved up in the last 10 years.  How early will they be this month?
  • Katydids will start to "sing."  As a child I never heard katydids but I often heard about them as joke on my first name.  They're a much better bug than the jokes were.
  • Look for flowers, fruits, dragonflies, butterflies and moths.
  • And don't forget to look closely at milkweed.  If you find small white dots on the underside of the leaves, they're monarch butterfly eggs.

Read more in Chuck Tague's July phenology here.


(close-up of Common Milkweed by Marcy Cunkelman)

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Milkweed or What to look for in early July”

  1. Hollyon 03 Jul 2009 at 9:10 am

    I am fairly sure that I will be collecting and planting milkweed next year. If I am not completely mistaken, isn’t it a very sweet and strong aroma?

    A friend sent this very very cool link to a woman who makes sure a few of the Monarch butterflies hatch and get away safely each year, it was what inspired me to plant some in my garden next year.


    it is fascinating for me to watch how quickly the caterpillars grow!

  2. Hollyon 03 Jul 2009 at 9:10 am

    errrr…that should have read, collecting and planting milkweed SEED.

  3. John Englishon 03 Jul 2009 at 11:57 am

    I’ve noticed that praying mantis also like milkweed. I’ve often found monarch eggs and mantis egg bundles on the same plant.

  4. Marcy Con 03 Jul 2009 at 5:33 pm

    I just dug up and potted common milkweed, so if anyone would like to visit, I share, esp for the monarchs. I raise “kids” every year and this year I am starting on my second generation. I already release 20 in June…which was a month early from my earliest record for caterpillars and eggs (May 30).

    The milkweed smells so good and it is busy with everything from bees, bugs, birds and butterflies. I will be cutting down about 1/2 of my plants after they are done blooming, so I can have fresh, tender leaves for the monarch caterpillars to munch and grow on. I also save the dried stems and put those out about mid-April for the Orioles to use for nesting material…they prefer the gray fibers over anything else I put out including untwisted baler twine(you get with bird seed). Other birds use the fibers also….it’s one of my favorite plants and it’s a native….

    (If interested in plants, email me and I can share, as long as I have plants.)

  5. Kate St. Johnon 10 Jul 2009 at 8:57 pm

    First cicada called tonight, July 10, 2009.

  6. Nellie Curranon 26 Jul 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Rowing on the Alleghrny River July 25 by the 62ed St. Bridgre we saw a Peregrin Falcon resting and enjoying the sunshine on one of the beams. Sorry I did not have a camera with me.

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