Cicada Killer Emergence

Cicada killer on leaf

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Cicada killers (Sphecius speciosus) are a little known, but rather frightening looking member of the wasp family that are very much at home in Oakland County. Just the fact that the word “killer” is part of their name draws attention and causes unnecessary anxiety and fear.

You may have seen cicada killers already without even knowing what they were. They are emerging now and are often misidentified as yellowjackets or baldfaced hornets. That misidentification is not surprising, since cicada killers bear a strong resemblance to yellowjackets—very big yellowjackets. However, unlike yellowjackets and baldfaced hornets that respond ferociously in a defensive manner if their papery nest is disturbed, cicada killers are solitary creatures and tend to totally ignore humans, even humans that intrude into their territory or disturb their underground tunnels.

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As Summer Sizzles On

Flowers near fence in the summer

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“The ordinary citizen today assumes that science knows what makes the community clock tick; the scientist is equally sure that he does not. He knows that the biotic mechanism is so complex that its workings may never be fully understood.”Aldo Leopold

I take great pleasure in observing common place “little things” of nature’s way, even when I do not fully understand their every changing biotic mechanism. Perhaps, you, like me, also appreciate our small wonders of nature that draw our attention or just make us smile as the “clock” of the sizzling days of summer ticks on. I’m sharing a few from this past week.

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Brandon Township’s Crown Jewel

Brandon Township Community Park entrance sign

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

A common misconception exists that one must travel “up north” to enjoy a few hours of nature’s way or just escape life’s daily hustle and bustle. Not so. The splendor of exploring easily accessible nature is never far away; a fact I encounter over and over no matter where I am. Sometimes you just need to know where to go!

In early May, I shared my nature-embracing adventure at the Red Oaks Nature Center in Madison Heights. Today, I’m highlighting my visit from the middle of May to a lesser-known park with a “Living Tree Library” in northernmost Oakland County that’s located just shy of the Genesee County line.

The Brandon Township Community Park encompasses 33 acres and is managed by Brandon Township Parks and Recreation. Just like Red Oaks Nature Center, the park has an easily accessible paved trail. I look at it as the township’s crown jewel, a site hidden away in plain sight that’s open to the public free of charge.

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Tree Swallow Tales

Tree Swallow on tree stump

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Tree Swallows are eye-catching aerialists with iridescent blue-green feathers and brilliant white fronts. Now that summer draws near, these beautiful birds are pursuing flying insects when they are not perched on nesting boxes, branches, or tree stumps. Their acrobatic twists, turns, dives, dramatic climbs, and changing of direction make capturing a photo in flight extremely challenging. However, the Tree Swallow pictured above, landed on a wetland tree stump and seemingly posed for a photo. The photo also gives a clue to the origin of their name.

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