Nature Connection #23 – Spring Sky, Spring Life!

Time for more great information on what’s happening now in the skies above and on the earth below, with full-blown spring all around us!

– By mid-May, the Sun is up 24/7 at all latitudes above 70 degrees north. It will not set until September!

SolarEclipse – The annual eclipse of the Sun will occur on May 20; it will be visible from China, Japan, the Pacific, and western North America.

LunarEclipse – A bright partial lunar eclipse will peak on June 4 at 9:59 UTC; it can be seen from Asia, Australia, the Pacific, and the Americas.

– Immature periodical cicadas, called nymphs, live underground for a 13- or 17-year maturation period. In May 2012, periodical cicadas will emerge by the millions in Virginia and West Virginia once the soil temperature exceeds 64 degrees F.

CicadaCrooner – Male cicadas sing their mating song one week afte they surface. Both sexes hear the call using organs, called tympana, on their abdomen. The male quiets as female cicadas lay their eggs on twigs and branches of trees and woody shrubs.

FertileWind – In late spring, wind spreads seeds and pollen from trees, grains, grasses, and other plants, helping plants populate distant regions. Some pine pollen has been documented up to 1,800 miles from its origin.

LadiesWhoLunch – When temperatures are over 55 degrees F., ladybugs leave hibernation as their preferred food, aphids, matures. Aphids are a crop eating species that consume anything from pine trees to strawberries. The ladybugs disrupt this feast by eating and con trolling the aphid population.

SpringSnacks – Most hummingbirds spend their winters in Mexico or the Central American tropics. They return to North America in spring to eat some of their favorite plant foods: bee balm, Indian pink, cardinal flower, red hot poker, cypress vine, and Mexican bush sage.

TurtleTrends – Female map turtles nest from late spring to midsummer throughout North America. Their powerful jaws can crush clamshells and other freshwater crustaceans, whereas the smaller, weaker males and juveniles eat insects and smaller mollusks.
BigDigs – Emerging from dens after hibernation, American alligators breed from April to May in swamps and rivers of the southeastern United States. The vacated dens provide habitat for other animals in the alligators’ ecosystem.

TreeSpinners – Eastern tent caterpillars weave a net in trees where they live during spring. In May or June, the fully grown larvae leave their tents to create a cocoon. Several weeks later, they spread their wings as newborn moths.

LadiesOnly – After mating and giving birth between May and June in Mexico, female Mexican long-nosed bats migrate northwest with their offspring, but without their mates, to form colonies 10,000 strong in the dark caverns of Texas.

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