June phenology

Holy Wisdom MonasteryCare for the Earth, Friends of Wisdom Prairie, Phenology 1 Comment

By Sylvia Marek

Red-winged blackbird on white wild indigo

Red-winged blackbird on white wild indigo

Phenology is a science focused on observing and recording biological events from year to year and their relationships to the change of seasons and climate.

These are the “normal” phenology events we expect to see here and in the Madison area this month. We would love to hear about what you are seeing on the grounds of Holy Wisdom Monastery. Please comment on this post with what you are observing, where at Holy Wisdom and the date you observed the event.

I have kept monthly phenology records for many years and the following are from my June entries.  Some events occur in late May also.


  • Bird migration is over
  • Chorus of birdsong most of the day
  • Nesting season
  • Insect sound and activity increase
  • Parade of prairie flowers
  • Trees and shrubs bloom
  • Summer solstice June 21 (over 15 hours, longest day of the year)


  • Resident and summer visitors sing, mate and raise young. About 80 species nest in the Madison area.  The list includes several kinds of wrens, sparrows, swallows, thrushes, vireos, woodpeckers, and flycatchers.  Also, gnatcatcher, oriole, catbird, thrasher, rose-breasted grosbeak, indigo bunting, hummingbirds and many more.  A few kinds of warblers nest here.
  • Dickcissels arrive (a very late migrant)
  • Young owls continue to beg and start to fly
  • Ducks and geese molt
  • Wood thrush sing at dusk
  • Last “peents” and sky dance of woodcock


  • Spotted fawns follow does
  • Deer shed gray winter fur and grow red-brown summer coat
  • Look for velvet-covered antlers on male deer
  • Young are active (fox, coyote, skunk, flying and gray squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, mice, woodchuck…)
  • Bats are active at night. However, white-nose syndrome (a fungal disease) has killed millions of North American bats


  • Month of giant silk moths. At night look for cecropia, polyphemus, promethea, and luna
  • Smaller moth species are active night and day
  • Butterflies include clouded sulphur, alfalfa, Eastern tailed-blue, spring azure, fritillary, pearl crescent, red admiral, red-spotted purple, viceroy, hackberry, tiger swallowtail, cabbage white, skipper and many more.
  • Monarchs return from the south, lay eggs and die. Caterpillars will feed on milkweed, pupate, and start a new generation
  • Fireflies twinkle at night
  • Look for iridescent dogbane beetles (Chrysochus auratus) on spreading dogbane plants
  • Many different kinds of beetles, bugs and bees (June beetles, tiger beetles, ladybugs, aphids, leafhoppers, treehoppers, etc.)
  • Look for grasshopper nymphs
  • Field crickets chirp
  • A few katydids and cicadas can be heard
  • Black flies, deer flies, and other flies bite
  • Mosquitoes feed and are fed upon
  • Dragon flies hatch and patrol for mosquitoes and other insects
  • Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) emerge end of the month
  • Deer or black legged tick larvae and nymphs take blood meals and can transmit Lyme disease. Take precaution!


  • Spiderlings hatch

Plants in bloom in woodlands

  • Violets, columbine, baneberry, wood anemone, showy orchid, yellow ladyslipper, wild geranium, Solomon’s seal, Solomon’s plume, pyrola and gaywings

Prairies are rich with floral beauty

  • Shooting star, wood betony, small white lady’s-slipper, grass pink and pale green orchid, goat’s rue, yellow star grass, blue-eyed grass, golden Alexander, puccoon, prairie phlox, spiderwort, spreading dogbane, milkweed species, coreopsis, pale purple coneflower, fleabane, ragwort, wild quinine, black-eyed Susan, rosin weed, sand cress, harebell, white campion, flowering spurge, leadplant, white and creamy wild indigo (baptisia), seneca snake root, Canada anemone, thimbleweed, wild bergamot, wild garlic, wood lily, pale spike lobellia, northern bedstraw, alum root, penstemon species, Culver’s root, vervain, New Jersey tea, and wild roses

In wetlands

  • Blueflag iris, yellow pond lily, white water-lily, Angelica, glade mallow

Roadsides and fields

  • Sweet clover, ox-eye daisy, hawkweed, St. John’s wort, Queen Anne’s lace, wild parsnip

Grasses and sedges bloom

  • Needle and June grass (invasive reed canary)
  • Bicknell’s, common tussock, marsh straw and fox sedge

Trees and shrubs in bloom

  • Black locust, basswood, (choke and black cherry trees – end of May, early June)
  • Common elderberry, highbush cranberry, nannyberry, red-osier, silky, pagoda, and gray dogwood shrubs
  • New growth of conifers
  • Conifers shed pollen

Ripe fruits

  • Juneberry, wild strawberry, honeysuckle, blackcap raspberries


  • Eastern gray and Copes treefrog, leopard, pickerel and green frogs call
  • Toads continue to call
  • Tadpoles
  • Turtles
  • Snakes

Sylvia Marek is a highly trained and experienced naturalist. She works for the University of Wisconsin Arboretum and is a first rate birder.

Please share the biological events you notice while at Holy Wisdom Monastery below (remember to include what you see, where and when).

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