Coloring up for fall

HAVE YOU NOTICED that fall coloration is begging to show up? Dogwoods, black gum and sumac are showing flashes of the deep crimson color they will eventually obtain. Also, tulip poplars and sycamores are adding to the yellows in the landscape. These colors, combined with goldenrod, iron weed and cardinal flower, are painting a colorful portrait on county landscapes.

The yellow garden spiders (Argiope aurantia), common to the Frederick area, are often called signature spiders. Their webs incorporate a white zigzag design, the “signature” that is thought to help camouflage the spider and make it appear larger to predators. Signature spiders eat only other insects and usually build their large webs, up to 2 feet in diameter, about 3 feet off the ground to catch low-flying prey. Their venom is harmful to insects, but usually not to humans. While relatively harmless and not aggressive, they can bite when placed in the defensive and are best enjoyed unmolested.

This time of year, plants are undergoing changes which direct their energy from growing taller and larger to storing that energy in the root system. These reserves will be used for leafing out next spring. A common term for this process is that the sap is flowing down. During the growing season, trees capture the sun’s energy and store it as sugars, during the winter these reserves are stored as a starch.

If you are gathering or purchasing firewood for the winter it would be a good time to begin your quest, if you haven’t already. Once you obtain the wood it should be stacked so that it can air dry for a few months before you need it. Even if the wood has been cured, air drying will help ensure that it burns well when the weather turns cold.

Article by FCFCDB

Nature Notes for 9/20/2009