Poor Will's Almanack: May 15 - 21, 2018

May 15, 2018

The Swarming Termite Moon, becoming the Daddy Longlegs Moon on today, May 15 at 6:47 a.m., waxes throughout the week ahead, reaching powerful perigee (its position closest to Earth) on May 17.

Under the new and potent Daddy Longlegs Moon, the season of Late Spring deepens and, of course, daddy longlegs begin hunting in the undergrowth. Delicate damselflies hover in the swamps. Buckeyes and lilacs and garlic mustard come into full bloom.  Yellow wood sorrel blossoms in the yard, daisies in the garden, and the first cycle of white cabbage butterflies has come out all the way to look for cabbages.

Most dandelions have gone to seed by the time daddy longlegs start hunting.  Ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive at your feeders then, and golden seal and Solomon's seal come into bloom in the deep woods.  There are buds on the black raspberries, mock orange, and mulberries. Sedum opens beside the fading large-flowered trilliums.

All across the country, the high tree line is completely alive either with new glowing foliage or orange buds or golden flowers, and the canopy of leaves closes completely within the next week or two. Throughout the country’s midsection, cottonwood cotton is in the wind, signaling the start of elderberry and chicory blooming season. Honewort blossoms in the woods, cow parsnip in the wetlands.

Spiderwort, scabiosa, lupine, small-flowered mallow, day lily, stella d’oro lily, fire pink, yucca, blue flax, foxglove, achillea, swamp iris, wild grapes, cow vetch, and lamb’s ear start flowering in the field and garden. Along the roadsides, blackberry brambles come into bloom. In the city, Kousa dogwoods flower.

Clover season spreads throughout lawns and pastures under the Daddy Longlegs Moon. Relatives of alfalfa, the small black medic, purple vetch, and the weedy yellow and white sweet clover take over the roadsides.

When the clovers bloom, flea season begins for dogs. . Flea beetles and leafhoppers start bothering the garden during clover season, too, and slugs reach their early peak, Flies bother the cattle, and ticks roam the brambles.

The first wave of goslings has emerged from its eggs by this time of the year.  The thrush, catbird, and scarlet tanager arrive when wild cucumber sprouts by the rivers and nettles grow past knee high. After locust trees are done flowering, then snow-on-the-mountain blossoms and sweet Williams, clematis and spiderwort open and white-spotted skippers and red admiral butterflies visit the garden.

The third and final major wave of songbird migration reaches the Great Lakes in the last days of May, dominated by female magnolia, Canada and bay-breasted warblers, the American redstart, indigo buntings, the vireos and flycatchers. In about three weeks, virtually all migrations are complete, and nesting has begun in the marshes.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the transition week to Early Summer. In the meantime, look for Daddy Longlegs. Check for ticks when you walk in the woods. Find goslings swimming in ponds and rivers.