Summer has officially arrived, according to the calendar. My mesquite tree has finished flowering (good news for my allergies) and is now dropping huge seed pods on the ground. Soon I'll collect these and have them ground into a delicious flour. What are some of your favorite signs of summer?

I hope that you will take a few minutes this summer to download our new and improved Nature's Notebook app! This app has a better navigation to allow you to more easily record activity of your plants and animals. Let us know what you think. If you like the app, don't forget to give us a nice review!

Happy observing,
What your data are telling us
How often does your location see a spring like this one?
In places where spring has sprung, how often have we seen a spring like this one? The USA-NPN's   spring bloom map shines light on where bloom of early season plants has occurred across the country. In the map below, darker colors represent springs that are unusually early or late in the long-term record. Gray indicates an average spring.

We can see especially rare late spring bloom across parts of the Southwest, the northern Great Plains, and the upper Northeast, and especially rare early spring bloom in parts of Western Washington and the Appalachian mountains.

Rethinking false spring risk
The number of early springs followed by late freeze events, called false springs, is predicted to increase due to climate change. To determine the likelihood of damage from a late spring freeze in temperate forests, the authors of a new study in Global Change Biology evaluated several datasets that reflect the start of spring including the USA-NPN’s spring leaf index . Many factors play a role in the susceptibility of plants to damage from false springs, including the plant’s life stage, functional group, morphology, and phenological traits such as whether the plant puts on buds early.

A clearer understanding of the risk and frequency of false springs can help managers plan for cascading effects of damage to plant tissues on food webs.

Photo: Alyssa Rosemartin
What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
New Nature's Notebook mobile app
We have a brand new  Nature's Notebook  mobile application to help you record your observations of plant and animal phenology!

The new app features improved navigation, the ability to easily see the past observations you have entered on the app and edit them if needed, an animal checklist to quickly enter your observations of animals, and improved options for our Local Phenology Program members. Learn about these features and more in our mobile app tip sheet .

Find it in the  Apple App Store  and  Google Play Store .

Observer Certification Course
The new Observer Certification Course lets you test your skills at phenology observation in Nature's Notebook . Once you pass all the modules of the course your observations will be tagged as submitted by a Certified Observer . You'll also receive the new badge featured at right. Find the first module of the Course, How-to Observe , on your Observation Deck, at the top of the page under the Learning tab. Additional modules will be available later this summer.

Pest Patrol seeks observers
We are still seeking observers to report activity of insect pests across the country. Use our Pheno Forecasts to know when to look for pests, then report what you see in Nature's Notebook ! We have new Phenophase Photo Guides to help you identify life cycle events of these species.

Recent happenings in the field
Helping birds adapt to climate change
In a new blog post on The Nature's Conservancy's Cool Green Science, author Matthew Miller discusses the mismatch that can occur when spring arrives early but migratory birds do not. Managers have an opportunity to use landscape diversity, such as the range of elevations, landforms, and soils, in their conservation planning to buffer birds against climate changes. This helps birds to hedge their bets in an increasingly variable environment.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo: Tom Grey
Warming waters disrupt whale food
Warming waters in the Gulf of Maine are impacting the life cycle of copepods, which are a critical food source for North Atlantic right whales. As their food supply changes, the whales are shifting where they spend their time, increasing their potential encounters with ships and fishing gear.

Photo: MA Marine Fisheries,
Flickr, Public Domain
Nature's Notebook Nuggets
The challenge of teeny tiny flowers
Teeny, tiny flowers can be hard to see and interpret. In some plant species they are clustered into a group called an inflorescence. A closer look at these teeny flowers will reveal that they have a similar floral structure as any bigger, showier flower. Knowing whether these flowers are "open" becomes easier after you get to know and understand the structure of the flowers for your plant species. And when it comes to counting them, pay attention to the special instructions in the Nature’s Notebook phenophase definition—it will tell you whether to count the flowers individually or in groups, and how to estimate the percent of flowers that are open.

Photo: Ellen G Denny
More ways to get involved
Minnesota summer phenology, illustrated
MinnPost analyzed data from the Minnesota Phenology Network to find the first average date of flowering and fruiting for some iconic Minnesota plant species. They have turned the data into a beautifully illustrated guide for when to expect your favorite natural occurrences this summer.

Ladybug swarm shows up on radar
The National Weather Service radar picked up something unusual in Southern California earlier this month - a giant swarm of ladybugs! The bugs were flying about a mile high in a cloud that was 10 miles wide. This species, the convergent lady beetle ( Hippodamia convergens ), is migratory, travelling from the California valleys to the cooler mountains as temperatures warm.

National Weather Service via AP

Erin Posthumus