Hearing the chirp of the field cricket is associated with the coming of autumn, but the careful observer will also hear them in spring. The song, however, is not so insistent or loud as late summer. That is because there are two closely related species, the spring field cricket calling now and on into July, and the fall field cricket that will start chirping in August.
We are now hearing the bumbling June bugs, also called May beetles, thump the screens at night and bang at outdoor lights. They look and fly like awkward armored animals, and if one gets indoors it lies on its back on the floor, with legs waving like a mechanical toy running down. There are dozens of different species of June bugs, but all are big and bumbly and, like some moths, can’t seem to resist lights in the night.
Look for your first-of-the-year monarch butterfly. Last year, the first migrant was spotted and reported May 14, and the year before it was May 24. They spend the winter in Mexico, where they congregate in selected trees on the mountainsides in an area west of Mexico City. In late February, the monarchs start migrating northward, and enter Texas during March and April. Females lay their eggs on milkweeds and their progeny appear in April or May. So by mid- to late May, when common milkweeds are up about 6 inches, a scant few of the fall migrants and many of their offspring that hatched in Texas find their way into Minnesota from the southlands.
Jim Gilbert taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.