By Malena Brotherson, Environmental Education Intern
The month of June features nature bustling and bursting with life! The air has been filled with birds singing, insects chirping, and trees rustling in the wind. Nature has been busy with creating green growth, bright blooming flowers, and animal young. Since there is so much going on, June is a great time to explore the life at your Pottawattamie Conservation Parks!
Large-flowered Beardtongue, Penstemon grandifloras, found along Angel’s Dead End Trail at Hitchcock Nature Center
A few months ago you may have noticed that green exploded everywhere. It seems like nature just decided one night that it wanted our parks to be green again, so when we woke the next morning, everything was bright green. However, so much new growth has happened since that initial burst of spring growth. June shows off all this in a variety of ways. We no longer see the dirt beneath our feet as much or see as much of the sky between the leaves in trees. The green explosion has covered all the previously empty land and sky. The best way to understand what is happening outside during the
An Ironwood tree has serrated and soft leaves. The bark has vertical lines that have a peeling appearance.
month of June is to experience it in person! June is a great month to work on or learn new identification skills.
Here are just a few of the things to try and look out for this month:
It’s a great time to work on tree identification skills because they are decked out with all their leaves right now. Leaf shape, texture, and arrangement on a stem all play a part in tree identification. The bark and fruits also help identify different trees. For
Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron strigosus; found along Badger Ridge Trail at Hitchcock Nature Center
more of a challenge, try to identify the many species of birds flitting in and out of the trees, too. You can pick up a free Iowa Tree Guide at the Loess Hills Lodge welcome desk that were made possible by a grant from the Iowa Living Land Trust.
June is full of different blooming flowers that you may not see as temperature rise later in the summer. It is always fun to see what each month brings to bloom. During June, you are likely to see different coneflowers taking off. Also keep an eye out for prairie larkspur, candleflower anemone, daisy fleabane, and invasive sweet clover. You can pick up a free Prairie Seedling Guide at the Loess Hills Lodge welcome desk!
Prairie Larkspur, Delphinium virescens; found along Badger Ridge Trail at Hitchcock Nature Center
They are everywhere, but you sometimes have to look carefully on the ground, in trees, and everywhere in between to find them. These creatures are harder to identify than plants because they run away, but that makes the challenge all the more fun. June is a month full of metamorphosing caterpillars and butterflies taking to the skies. You can also see plenty of moths and bees flying around, but don’t forget about the jumpers and crawlers. At your county parks you are sure to find monarch butterflies and caterpillars hanging around milkweed plants as well as swallowtail butterflies. In addition, you can find a variety of bee and beetle species staying busy. Insects come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, making them super fun to explore. You can pick up a free Pollinator Guide at the Loess Hills Lodge welcome desk.
Black Swallowtail, Papillio polyxenes, found along Badger Ridge Trail.