Recent Nature-related Discoveries in My Yard and Community – June and July 2022

The last month or so has been incredibly hot, dry, and humid where I’m at. Heat indexes of over 100 have become normal. I’m very grateful for all the wildlife that I can view from the house while sitting in the air-conditioned comfort on those hotter days. Yet, even with the miserably hot weather, we’ve still found times when we could get out and explore first thing in the mornings, in the evenings, and on the scattered days when the temperatures have been more moderate. Below are a few of the nature-related discoveries and observations we’ve made over the last couple of months.

Nature-related Discoveries and Observations

In late May and early June, the cut-leaf grape fern growing in our woods was putting up its fruiting bodies. It’s called “grape fern” because the spores are clustered on a stalk and supposedly look like grapes. (Those are the clusters of spores on the stalk that is sticking straight up in this photo.) Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved
We temporarily stopped selling spicebush in our nursery during June, because almost every one had a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar on it. Anthony filmed several of them and used the video in this fun, YouTube short and in a longer, more in-depth YouTube video about spicebush swallowtails. You can find both of those videos and much more on our new Backyard Ecology YouTube channel.
The common milkweed in our pastures and gardens bloomed in June. It’s easy to associate milkweeds and monarchs, but so many other critters also use milkweed. Large milkweed bugs, milkweed borers, a wide variety of bees and butterflies, and lightning bugs / fireflies are just a few examples of the many insects we found on the milkweed this year. I also had fun watching the phoebe that nested on our front porch hunt over the milkweed patch along the side of the house. So, milkweeds aren’t just for bugs.
Speaking of fireflies, the displays this year have been amazing!! I had so much fun watching them at our house and at a new friend’s house. I learned how to identify 3-4 new species too! I also finally took the time to figure out how to video the firefly displays. This is a short video that we posted to the YouTube channel right before July 4, as an example of Mother Nature’s fireworks.
On one of our walks in the woods, we found hairy skullcap (Scutellaria elliptica) blooming. Hairy skullcap can be found in woods throughout the eastern U.S., however, depending on where you are at you could also have other skullcap species. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved.
No matter which species you have, all skullcaps have this basic flower-shape. Oh yeah, and they are in the mint family so they all have a square stem. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved.
Lately, we’ve also been finding green stink bug nymphs on the plants. Green stink bugs are native to the eastern U.S. and are not the same species as the brown marmorated stink bugs that have begun to invade many of our homes each winter. The nymphs go through different stages, called instars, every time they molt and their markings change with each molt. The one in this picture is in its last instar and will become an adult green stink bug next. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved.

So, what interesting nature-related discoveries have you made in your yard and community over the last few weeks? I always enjoy hearing what others are finding too.

Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at

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