Late Fall Connections

Brrrrr! The cold front came through this week, and the temps have taken a dive. Luckily, the forecast calls for higher temps over the next week, closer to our usual November highs of the low 60s in Oklahoma. Perfect weather in so many ways, brilliant blue skies and light southwesterly winds.

Many things are happening in the animal/plant world as everything prepares for the coldest part of the natural annual cycle of life. Today’s post features information about these last weeks of fall.

CrowFlock — In fall and winter, American crows establish communal roosting areas. As evening draws on, hundreds or thousands of crows gather to vociferate and tussle until dark, then they move on to the night’s roosting site.

HeatKeep — European wood ants build nests out of forest debris, forming mounds nearly 3 feet high. In preparation for winter, they close twig hatches and pine needle doorways to prevent heat from escaping the tunnels below.

DelicateDeath — As the autumn frost sets in, infertile leaves of the sensitive fern turn dull yellow and die. Fertile leaves persist, however, forming beadlike encasements around sporangia, in which spores are produced.

BusyBear — As temperatures drop, woolly bear caterpillars, larvae of the Isabella tiger moth, begin seeking a safe place to hibernate. Caterpillars that overwinter have already passed through as many as six larval stages; they will become moths in the spring.

HelpfulShelter — As the rest of the European hornet colony dies off, those females who are destined to be future queens crawl into old stumps or loose tree bark to pass the winter months.

WormyWeatherAnecic earthworms in southern Appalachia thrive in cold weather. Farther north, when seasonal temperatures go below 50 degrees F., they burrow down to hibernate, sometimes as deep as 6 feet.

LicketyCricket — Male field crickets attract females by rubbing their forewings together to create a chirping sound. A female hears the male’s “song” through tympani, or hearing organs, located in her front legs.

SilkShelter — The egg sac of an orb weaver spider contains hundreds of eggs, which hatch in autumn or spring. The autumn hatchlings overwinter in their protective sac, huddling together until temperatures warm in the spring.

Thanks to Chris Hardman’s Ecological Calendar 2013 for the above information,

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