Afton State Park phenology, week of July 3, 2020

What to look for in the forests, prairies, and riverside parts of the popular park.




4 minute read

Prairie at Afton State Park. (Via Flickr)


Look for Venus in the east before sunrise. On the 6th look for the moon forming atriangle with Jupiter and Saturn a<er about 11:00 at night.


Look for red-winged blackbirds in marshy areas. On the prairie, look for tree swallows using bluebird boxes to nest. Tree swallows are one of the first species to leave to go south after nestlings fledge. Also look and listen for western meadowlarks.


Deer have changed from their winter gray coats to summer red. Look for youngfawns foraging with does at dawn and dusk. Animals that, like deer, are acKve at dawn anddusk are called “crepuscular”.

Amphibians and reptiles

Enjoy listening to the trilling of tree frogs in the evening. Their call is very loud and many people think they are hearing a bird and not a little frog! Female painted and snapping turtles are digging nests and laying eggs. Watch out for slow-moving turtles crossing roads and paths near lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams.


Two species of “lady” butterflies are on the wing at Afton in the summertime: the Painted Lady and the American Lady. Both are brushfoot butterflies. They have six legs but the two front legs are very short and brushy so you will see them perched on four legs. Monarchs are also brushfoots. The Painted Lady is more common at Afton. It has four eyespots on its hindwing. The American Lady has only two eyespots.

Many dragonflies and damselflies are on the wing. Dragonflies rest with their wings held open. Damselflies rest with their wings together. And look for the blinking of fireflies at twilight.


Look for cinquefoil, butterfly weed, black-eyed susans and yarrow blooming on the prairie.

Milkweed is the host plant for Monarch buPerflies. Look for both common milkweed andswamp milkweed at A<on. Common milkweed has rounded leaves while the leaves of swampmilkweed are more pointed. Look for Monarch caterpillars on milkweed plants.

Weather observations

Here are some weather observations for this week from past years

Friday, July 32010: muggy with temperature in 70s
Saturday, July 42012: record high of 101°
Sunday, July 52010: high in 80s with an inch of rain
Monday, July 62016: record rainfall of 2.83”
Tuesday, July 72016: light rain continues into morning, high in 70s
Wednesday, July 8High 60s in the morning, climbing to a muggy 89° bya<ernoon.
Thursday, July 92000: record rainfall of 2.55

Photo credits: All photos copyright Nina Manzi, except Dean Lokken: Painted Turtle, Snapping Turtle; Bill Marchel: Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird