Phenology, the natural rhythms of nature

Phenology, the natural rhythms of nature

RoadNotes Summer 2018-The Dakota’s

As we travel throughout the nation we often visit communities at the same time each year. Over the course of a couple of decades this gives us a glimpse into the phenology of a community. A curious event occurred in Brookings South Dakota about a decade ago, it was the mass emergence of dragonflies. I believe the dragonflies were called Cherry Faced Meadow Hawks. They were relatively small dragonflies (2/3 the size of a common green darner). They were noticed because of their color and the profusion. These dragonflies exhibit some territorial traits that won’t allow them to be closer than 18 inches to another dragonfly. They were attracted to a bright yellow nylon cord that was strung as a parking divide. It was 100 yards long and there was a Cherry faced Meadow Hawk every 18 inches along the cord. It created my interest in dragonflies that continues to this day.

The other phenological happening in Brookings that seems to occur around July 12 to 14 each year is the Cicada emergence.
Cicadas emerge as ground dwellers and tend to crawl up trees or the side of our tent. They morph into a bulky flying machines and create the buzzing noise that you hear in the treetops this time of year. Most of these insects go completely unnoticed by festival attendees. They appear like something out of a science fiction movie.

(Cicadas have been featured in literature since the time of Homer’s Iliad, and as motifs in art from the Chinese Shang dynasty. They have been used in myths and folklore to represent carefree living and immortality. Cicadas are eaten in various countries, including China, where the nymphs are served deep-fried in Shandong cuisine. Wikipedia)

As the day ended and we were headed by to our camper I observed another large insect, one of the largest wasps in North America. It appears like a small helicopter gun ship! Alas, it isn’t as dangerous as it sounds or looks. It seldom stings humans unless provoked mightily. It is called the Cicada Killer. Summertime in the Dakotas. BBC-RoadNotes . (pictured-Cicada)

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