Nature Notebook, August 15, 2019


The last of the Perseid meteor showers may be difficult to see this week thanks to the full moon, and the skies will remain quiet until the Draconid showers in October.

Belladonna lilies (Amaryllis belladonna), a South African migrant, has been coloring the landscape; these pale pink lilies are marching alongside the Borge Gallery in Point Reyes Station and Divide Meadow. Their leaves die back in early summer and their singular tan stem is topped by a cluster of flowers. Adapted to the Mediterranean climate, the lilies’ softball-sized bulbs store moisture from winter rains.

The Earthquake Trail has been hosting “woolly bears”: slow-moving, fuzzy, black and rusty orange banded caterpillars. Folklore tells us that their eastern cousins are weather predictors; if the black bands on either end are longer than the middle orange band, the winter will be harsh. The caterpillars will eventually become tiger moths, but for now, watch your step.  

As warmer days heat up surface waters, we may see an annual event: jellyfish washing up on beaches, especially along Tomales Bay. The clear moon jellies—with four white half-moons—and the larger, brownish lion’s mane jellies are surface water dwellers that are susceptible to temperature changes.