Spiders become more noticeable in August

By Jim Gilbert

When young spiders emerge from their eggs they already are adults in miniature. The mother spider cares for her eggs and watches over her newly hatched young with as much diligence as the more sophisticated mammals.

It might appear that there are more spiders in August than in early summer because they become much larger and more noticeable after going through several molts.

Without spiders we would be overrun by insects. It is estimated that each year spiders eat enough insects to outweigh the entire human population. If you think about how many mosquitoes it would take to equal your own weight (about 200,000 mosquitoes per pound), perhaps you would be a little friendlier to spiders.


Tomatoes are ripe

The first reference to the use of the tomato for culinary purposes in the United States was by Thomas Jefferson who grew tomatoes at Monticello (Virginia) in 1781.

By 1895, modern tomato varieties started proliferating in America when scientific breeding practices began improving fruit quality and size, and the development of disease resistant types. Today tomatoes are more widely grown in home gardens than any other vegetable (the part we eat is a true fruit).

Some tomatoes are green when fully ripe, some are close to white, and of course there are orange fruited, pink, yellow, red, and even striped tomatoes. All are known as the “oranges of our vegetable gardens” because of their high vitamin C content. Also, all are rich in vitamins A, B1 and B2, and contain only about four calories per ounce.

What’s happening outdoors now?

Indian grass and big bluestem, both five feet tall or more and the tallest prairie grasses, are blooming; and along with them showy blooming prairie wildflowers at this time include blazing-stars, the cup-plant, compass-plant, and purple coneflower.

Gardeners are busy harvesting cucumbers, summer squash, tomatoes, sweet corn, and much more. European mountain ash trees are loaded with big clusters of orange fruit, that American robins, cedar waxwings and other birds relish.

The common tree frog is a small, usually green frog with conspicuous finger and toe discs that we see on screens and window panes summer evenings as they come to feed on insects attracted by the interior house lights. We also see these frogs on zinnias and other garden flowers.


On Aug. 21 a year ago

A dry spell continued. We had a low temperature of 74 and a high of 88 degrees, under partly sunny skies. The near surface water temperature of Lake Waconia was 76 degrees.

William’s Pride, Viking and Wellington were among early season apples ripe for picking. Laurie and Kim Mackenthun were seeing 100 or so ruby-throated hummingbirds coming to their feeding station in rural Waconia. Laurie filled the 10 sugar-water feeders twice daily.