[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
53°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
December 13
1900 - Automobile Club of Southern California founded; first car in SCV appeared 1902 [story]


Back to Nature | Commentary by Mari Carbajal
| Thursday, Aug 13, 2015

maricarbajalAs much as I love nature, I never really paid much attention to the little details until I moved to Agua Dulce.

Nature on the high desert seems so much different than any other place I’ve lived before. Maybe it’s just that living in a rural community forces you to pay more attention with its rattlesnakes, poisonous plants and buggy things that sting.

One of my first discoveries was a giant fuzzy ant that my neighbor said was a velvet ant. Who knew such an amazing-looking insect could sting so severely that it earned the nickname, “cow killer?” A member of the Mutillidae family, velvet ants are among the 3,000-plus species of wasp.

velvet antIt was this little insect that got me started on what I will introduce you to today.

I began noticing more and more flora and fauna as time went by. One day I was discussing yellow jackets with a neighbor, and how many there were at the time. He said he had heard an Indian myth that a large number of yellow jackets meant an abundance of rain in the coming winter.

yellow jacketI was intrigued. I decided to write down when and how many I saw. Then I wondered about other things and wrote down all of the things I would see, such as velvet ants, red-tailed hawks, venomous and non-venomous snakes, plants, etc. I kept adding to my list until one day I decided to put the list into a spreadsheet. That’s when things got interesting.

I created a spreadsheet that I titled, “Seasonal Information.” I made a column called (for a lack of imagination) “Category” and then one column for each month of the year. Then I entered all of the things from my list into the Category column.

As the first year went by, I added more and more information including weather factors, what month my horses started to get their winter coats, and when they began losing their coats in preparation for summer. I developed a rather simplistic format for identifying some things, for instance: “Was the month arid or humid? What months, if any, did we have monsoons? Did it rain? Did it snow?” And so on.

1
After a while, I ran into a problem of trying to chart just how much of something I’d seen. Was there only one ant in my kitchen, or did the entire colony take over my trash can? I decided a scale of 0 to 10 would be the easiest, where “0” meant I didn’t see any ants; “5” meant I saw a good number of ants; and “10” meant “Yikes! I’ve been invaded.”

2
I track when the yucca begins to bloom, when the ravens begin to nest, when various insects appear – and are there just a few insects or is there a large number of them?

My next dilemma was to identify what part of the month something occurred. For example, if I said it was very windy in May, I wouldn’t know what part of May it was windy; or was it windy all month long? I decided to use a lesser than (<) and greater than (>) sign with the number. No sign at all means the middle of the month.

This July, after the torrential downpours we had, many California toads appeared on my property. On the chart I marked it as >7; meaning there were quite a few toads at the end of the month.

3
I have several spreadsheets now, all labeled by the year. I can go back and see what happened last year or in previous years.

If the theory of the yellow jackets is true, then I will be able to look at the spreadsheets and determine whether we might get a lot of rain. If my horses’ coats start to grow in September, I can expect an early winter, and if they begin to lose their coats in February, I’ll know winter is over and spring will soon be upon us. If their coats grow in long, I can expect rain and probably a milder winter. But if their coats grow in short and thick, I can guarantee a cold winter with a strong probability of snow.

This is a fun project for the entire family, although it can (and should) go on for years. I’m not a statistics fanatic, but I do enjoy watching nature and making the predictions.

I hope you will try this for yourself. It’s not only informational, but it can also be fun to collect the data and see if you can predict weather patterns, blooms, insect invasions, etc.

Give it a try and see what interesting and fun discoveries await you.

 

 

Mari Carbajal is a docent-naturalist at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

9 Comments

  1. Shay says:

    I like how you think and look forward to more posts! If nothing else, you’ll have lots of great info to share with the kids on field trips at the nature center.

  2. jim soliz says:

    This was the first time I truly enjoyed reading anything from the SCVN. Normally, its all about all the alleged criminal behavior (and they usually have a Spanish surname), how bad the liberals are, how hateful and crazy the left is ( and this is something I really find bizzarre since the only person on the “left” that has ever admitted it is a local TAX attorney), and the chest pounding of very conservative minded people (which is so boring because its always about how bad everybody but them are). So frankly, reading your article was just such a little bit of fresh air that I actually read and enjoyed it all. Thanks.

    • Mari Carbajal says:

      I’m honored. I love to write, and I love nature, so it’s a perfect blend. I really appreciate your compliments. Mari

  3. C. Harris says:

    Mari, I too have noticed how nature can tell us the up coming weather.
    Last evening August 12th a second flock of geese came by headed south. Pretty early in the year to do that traveling. All of the oak trees are dropping their acorns, again that usually does not happen until late September or October. So what is your prediction for the winter of 2015
    after checking out your horses?

    • Mari Carbajal says:

      Hi C…

      It’s truly amazing what you can find when you open your eyes. I don’t know about the acorns. I have no prediction at this point because our weather is so hot that the horses are comfortable. Usually they begin growing their winter coats in late September/early October. We’ll see what happens. If you want to know more in the future, feel free to contact me at mcarbajal.pcnc@gmail.com

  4. Christina Rodriguez says:

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Pretty fascinating. I hope you update us with your findings.

  6. Roni C says:

    Hey Mari- Great article!! I REALLY enjoyed reading it. Still want to make a date and have you give me the tour of that area. But I would have thought you would be sick of spread sheets by now!! haha – Roni

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Sunday, Dec 10, 2017
Derelict since the 1994 earthquake, the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall was the first productive oil refinery in the American West and is believed to be the oldest existing refinery in the world today. Unfunded restoration plans have come and gone. Now that the surrounding property is under development, will the promises be kept?
Friday, Dec 8, 2017
A National Memorial designation for St. Francis Dam will honor those who lost their lives in the nation’s worst engineering disaster and the role it played in ushering in a new era of oversight for dam construction.
Thursday, Dec 7, 2017
Eliminating net neutrality would allow Internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast, Spectrum and AT&T to create a “slow lane” and a “fast lane” on the Internet, prioritizing certain companies over others and dictating what websites you’re able to visit and at what speed, or even blocking you entirely from visiting certain websites of your choice.
Monday, Dec 4, 2017
In his monthly message for December 2017, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin encourages residents to shop and party locally during the holidays to keep the cash in our community.
Friday, Dec 1, 2017
The big day is almost upon us and a year of celebrations is wrapping up. On December 15, 2017 our city will officially be 30 years old.
Thursday, Nov 30, 2017
Create and decorate your own holiday wreaths, centerpieces, candles and ornaments using a large assortment of fresh-cut greenery, pine cones and other beautiful natural treasures this weekend at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The Sheriff’s Department and CHP will participate in a special year-end "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" enforcement campaign from December 15 through January 1.
LASD, CHP Join ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ DUI Campaign
The Caribbean is back, better than ever, and Valencia-based Princess Cruises is offering the best fares of the season during the “Exclusively Caribbean Sale,” on 7-, 8-, 10-, 14-day sailings departing February through April 2018.
Princess Cruises ‘Exclusively Caribbean Sale’ Offers Season’s Best Fares
Designer and animator Jamie Tan (Film/Video BFA 15) started baking cakes and fancy French pastries as a meditative practice to help her balance the 20 credit semesters she was taking as a student at CalArts.
Jamie Tan on Art, Baking for Rojas’ ‘Theater of Disappearance’
CalArts School of Critical Studies faculty Janet Sarbanes recently received a grant from The Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program for her essay "Reframing the House of Dust: A Meditation in Many Parts."
CalArts’ Janet Sarbanes Wins Writers Grant from Creative Capital
Artist and CalArts alumna Carrie Mae Weems (Art BFA 81) concludes her year-long residency at New York’s Park Avenue Armory with a day-long convening of artists, writers, poets, musicians and social theorists on Sunday, Dec. 17.
Dec. 17: Weems Wraps Year-Long NYC Residency
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan was named winner of the 2017 Electoral Ergonomy Award at the International Electoral Awards on December 5 in Dead Sea, Jordan.
LA County Registrar-Clerk Wins International Electoral Award
The CSUN women's basketball team looks to extend its winning streak to four when the Matadors return home to face the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks on Monday, December 18.
Dec. 18: CSUN Women’s Basketball Team Goes for 4
Sport fishing permits for 2018 are now on sale from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Sport Fishing Licenses for 2018 Now on Sale
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the Santa Clarita Valley and other areas of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties through Friday morning.
Critical Fire Conditions in SCV Though Friday
Steve Gerischer, proprietor of Larkspur Garden Design, will simplify the art of rose pruning and share tips on keeping your roses flourishing at the next installment of CSUN's CSUN-al Gardening series on Saturday, Jan. 13.
CSUN-al Gardening to Tackle the Prickly Topic of Pruning Roses
The Master’s University profiles 2017 men's basketball star Brock Gardner.
TMU Basketball’s Brock Gardner – Tough Decisions, Terrific Transfer
The list of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes, released recently, was backloaded with four athletes from The Master’s University.
4 TMU Men’s Soccer Players Named NAIA Scholar-Athletes
During October, 15 junior high and high school campuses in Santa Clarita hosted a toiletries drive as part of their annual DFY in SCV community campaign.
DFY in SCV Students Help Others in Need
SCV Sheriff's Station deputies are still looking for two men who allegedly stole a wallet from a woman shopping in a local market, and posted images from surveillance video seeking the public's help to identify and locate the men.
Deputies Still Seek Suspects in Theft of Shopper’s Wallet
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and 17 other attorneys general have called on the Trump Administration to respect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s independence.
AG’s File Brief Backing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Santa Clarita Arts Commission's next Regular Meeting is set for Thursday, Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Dec. 14: Santa Clarita Arts Commission Regular Meeting
The city of Santa Clarita's Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission will hold its next Regular Meeting on Thursday, Dec. 14, at 3:30 p.m.
Dec. 14: Parks, Recreation, Community Services Regular Meeting
The nonprofit WiSH Education Foundation is out to raise $100,000 to fund improvements in Hart District school libraries.
WiSH Foundation Seeks Funds for Hart District Libraries
Valencia resident Kyanna Isaacson, 26, fulfills her dream of owning a Jersey Mike’s Subs restaurant today, and opens with a free sub fundraiser to benefit the nonprofit WiSH Education Foundation.
Valencia Resident Opens Her Own Jersey Mike’s Sub Shop
1900 - Automobile Club of Southern California founded; first car in SCV appeared 1902 [story]
The City Council named Laurene Weste the new mayor of Santa Clarita Tuesday night.
Laurene Weste Named Mayor for Fifth Time
Paris, Amsterdam, Sydney – Unibail-Rodamco SE (“Unibail-Rodamco”) and Westfield Corporation (“Westfield”) announced Tuesday that Unibail- Rodamco has entered into an agreement to acquire Westfield to create the world’s premier developer and operator of flagship shopping destinations (the “Group”).
French Real Estate Firm Buys Westfield in $16-Billion Deal
NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—CSUN's Channon Fluker was named Madness National Mid-Major Women's Basketball Player of the Week Dec. 11.
CSUN’s Fluker Named Player of the Week
​LOS ANGELES, CA Trammell Crow Company (TCC) and Clarion Partners have begun construction on The Center at Needham Ranch, a 54-acre, state-of-the-art industrial business park in Santa Clarita.
Construction Underway at Needham Ranch
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Attendees of California State University, Northridge's Matador Athletics events will be able to purchase beer and wine at home games beginning Jan. 6, 2018 with the start of the Men's and Women's Basketball Big West Conference season.
Beer, Wine Will Soon be Available at CSUN Home Games
A 2-acre brush fire, dubbed the Copper Fire, ignited shortly 4:35 p.m. on the 29100 block of West Hills Drive, according to a tweet from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Forward Progress Stopped on 2-Acre West Hills Fire
How do we close the graduation gap? How do we ensure students have the resources they need to succeed academically? Those are questions people in higher education — including at California State University, Northridge — have been grappling with for decades.
CSUN Department Changing Way Students are Served After Data Sheds Some Light
Offering more than 150 itineraries to popular bucket-list destinations all over the world, Princess Cruises has earned top honors for its cruise vacation itineraries in the Cruise Critic Annual Editors’ Picks Awards.
Industry Experts Award Princess Cruises “Best Itineraries”
As it wraps up 2017 and looks forward to 2018, the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce announced eight new additions to its board of directors next year.
Chamber Announces 2018 Board of Directors
Continuing more than a decade of Christmas tradition, Faith Community Church will host the 12th Annual “Festividad for Christ” Christmas celebration for its neighbors in Newhall.
Dec. 16: Annual ‘Festividad for Christ’ Christmas Celebration
With New Year’s Eve just a few weeks away, the city of Santa Clarita is offering a cash reward up to $500, in the hopes that someone will come forth with valuable information that may lead to the citation(s) of the person or persons responsible for illegal firework activity in the City.
City to Offer Cash in Exchange for Tips on Illegal Firework Activity
On Friday, the facts of the case against Newhall resident, Robert Mount, age 52, were presented to the San Fernando District Attorney's office.
Newhall Suspect Charged with 65 Counts; Bail Set at More Than $2 Million
1891 - Actor Buck Jones, a Placerita and Vasquez "regular," born in Indiana [story]
'The Shape of Water' and 'Big Little Lies' top the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's 75th Golden Globes nominations announced Monday morning in Beverly Hills.
‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ Top 75th Golden Globes Nominations