Thistles and moths or What to look for in early August

Clearwing moth and bumblebee at Swamp Thistle (photo by Chuck Tague)

Summer has turned the corner.  In August it's on the ebb.

If you didn't have a calendar, how would you know?  Here's a quick list of what to look for outdoors.  For a detailed list, especially flowers and butterflies, see Chuck Tague's phenology.

  • Hummingbird Clearwing Moths drink from Swamp Thistles.  This moth resembles a hummingbird when it flies.  Look closely; don't be fooled.
  • Late summer flowers are here -- Coneflowers and Bonesets, Wingstems and Sunflowers, Goldenrods and Asters -- and so are their accompanying butterflies and moths.
  • Bird song is rare.  Only cardinals sing at dawn in my neighborhood and soon they'll be silent too.
  • Hummingbird migration begins.  Visit any place with lots of flowers and you'll see hummingbirds zipping by.  In the eastern U.S. we have only ruby-throated hummingbirds, but during migration there's a chance a rufous hummingbird will arrive.  Keep a watch on your feeders.
  • Warblers and shorebirds leave for the south.
  • Many adult birds, including peregrine falcons, are molting.
  • Some trees show late-season insect or fungal disease.  Stands of black locusts are brown.  Fall webworms will make tents in the trees.
  • By mid-August we should be hearing katydids but I'm not holding my breath.  I'm still waiting to hear cicadas and crickets in the numbers I expected in June and July.  What a strange year!

(photo by Chuck Tague)

3 thoughts on “Thistles and moths or What to look for in early August

  1. I can’t believe it’s already time for the hummingbird migration!  Remember to keep your hummingbird feeders full.  They’ll need the energy for their long journey.  Also, look for them next year by checking the hummingbird migration map!

  2. I FINALLY got a hummingbird!! I’m so excited!! I just saw it! I need to immediately go out and put fresh liquid in the feeder. It seemed to be all brown. Beautiful little thing!! This is just thrilling!!

  3. At last, I finally identified these THINGS I saw in my daughter’s back garden. They flew like hummingbirds and hovered over the flowers, but I wasn’t sure. We in the Mid-South have ruby-throats, but the rufous don’t come this far east. While looking for photos of purple thistles, I came across your website, and eureka! I’m sending the link to my daughter so she’ll get to see them, too.

    Nature is a fascinating school, always teaching me something new. THANK YOU!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *