The first real autumn days have arrived. Black walnut leaves continue to rain down along with the walnuts. Poison ivy leaves are turning red. Sumac is blazing red.
Everything looks different when autumn arrives. Leaves are no longer green but yellowish green. They look dry and brittle on the sunflowers along the road.
Only a few wildflowers are still blooming. Asters are the most noticeable. Even they are producing seeds as quickly as possible.
Animals are leaving for warmer climes or bulking up for lean times coming soon. They have a bountiful supply of fruits and seeds this year.
Insects too have changed. The fireflies and cicadas are gone. Dragonflies dart over the pastures. Grasshoppers fly up from underfoot almost everywhere. Crickets, grasshoppers and katydids call continuously.
Moths seem everywhere too. These night fliers are often small and easily overlooked. Even spooked from one hiding place, a moth flutters quickly to a new place, lands and disappears under a twig or leaf.
Butterflies haven’t been as numerous this year. So many things are different after the heat and drought of last year.
Both butterflies and moths are busy laying eggs to hatch next spring. They flutter around until their wings are in tatters. The adults usually don’t survive over the winter.
So many insects don’t overwinter. That is probably good as insects already rule the world by the numbers. But it is a strange idea.
A larval insect hatches in the spring. It eats, molts, eats, molts, eats, sometime to molt into an adult. The adult lives only a month or two.
Cicadas live almost their entire lives under the ground sucking tree sap. After a year, eleven years, thirteen years or seventeen years of this, they crawl out to fly in the sunshine for a month then die.
Dragonflies and damselflies also spend a year or more in a stream. They climb out to fly for a month or two then die.
Autumn looks so beautiful with the yellows and reds spread across the hills. Asters sport bouquets in white, blue and lavender. For so many insects these are the funeral wreaths. At least they get to munch on them first.