June brings the longest days of the year. It’s a month for getting out the garden furniture and the ragged tablecloth for a small gathering, in perfect sync with the easing of lockdown. June means “young” and in Roman mythology Juno was the goddess of marriage and love. In modern times, therefore, June is known as the bridal month, a time for weddings and church bells.
The hedgerows this month will be full of herbs to forage: look out especially for lemon balm, wild fennel, watercress, spearmint, cleavers and wild strawberries. One spectacular June visitor is the “painted lady” butterfly, floating in on a warm southern breeze from Africa. Out of sight at high altitudes, these butterflies are journeying onwards to their destination 6,000km away, the Arctic Circle. But they will at times come closer to the ground to mate and lay their eggs on thistle plants.
Look out for their courtship dance, in which up to eight butterflies dance and flutter around each other, seeking a suitable mate. Once they reach the Arctic they fly back again to Africa, the entire round trip of 12,000km taking about six generations to complete. How the parents teach their young to find their way through the ferocious storms above the clouds is largely unknown. Let it remain a mystery.
Positive Ecological News
Bees are now citizens in Costa Rica
In a few decades’ time, the UN estimates almost 70% of humanity will be living in large urban areas. This stark reality requires a major rethink in designing new towns and cities. But inspiration comes from Edgar Mora, former mayor of Curridabat, a suburb of Costa Rica’s capital San José, where he has, in his own words, “converted every street into a bio-corridor and every neighbourhood into an ecosystem”.
His revolution was to offer town citizenship to pollinators, trees and native plants, thereby giving them rights and full protection to live out their plant lives. This transformed a formerly unremarkable suburb by successfully uniting urban life with nature, enabling people to enjoy the town alongside a rich, wild haven for wildlife and recreational activities.
Barberry Carpet Moth Photo by James Lowen
A moth brought back from extinction
Butterfly Conservation has reported that a threatened species in Britain, the Barberry Carpet Moth, has been saved from extinction in Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. A pioneering conservation project called Back from the Brink (funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund) worked with biologists, enthusiasts and partners to boost the moth’s habitat. The key to its success was to plant 4,000 barberry shrub plants across 169 sites: 44 in Dorset and 125 in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.
Soaring bald eagles in America
The very emblem of America, the bald eagle has almost quadrupled in numbers since the last decade, with more than 71,400 nesting pairs in the 2019 breeding season alone. This work has been due to federal conservation efforts as well as the ban on DDT. Deb Haaland, US Secretary of the Interior, said the growth of the bald eagle population “is also a moment to reflect on the importance of the Endangered Species Act, a vital tool in the efforts to protect America’s wildlife”.
On 10 June the Moon will be invisible, so for curious sky gazers this is the perfect time to observe faint objects such as galaxies, constellations and star clusters. 21 June ushers in the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere. On 24 June the moon becomes a “supermoon” as it will be much closer to Earth, giving it a brighter and larger appearance than usual.
1 – 9 June, Neap
10 – 14 June, Spring
15 – 21 June, Neap
22 – 29 June, Spring
Andreas Kornevall is a Swedish storyteller, writer and ecologist. He is also Director of Operations for Earth Restoration Service, a UK-based charity