Summer Wildlife in the Park
As a managed green space, Madison Square Park is a vital source of food and shelter for native and migrating fauna throughout the year. This summer, we highlight a few flying fauna that utilize the Park for their essentials during the summer season.
At first glance, one might confuse the eastern carpenter bee for the more well-known bumble bee, but look again and notice Xylocopa virginica is slightly larger and boasts an almost completely black abdomen that is shinier and less fuzzy than a bumble bee. Eastern carpenter bees nest over during the winter months with their sisters, typically living for over two years. Starting in April, the eldest sisters take charge by foraging for food, mating, and maintaining the nest, while the youngest sisters and male bees protect the nest from intruders. The second generation bees will begin senescence in July. During this time, the older bees will more frequently rest on flowers and eventually die off. The following spring, it is believed that the younger sisters will assume the role left by their elders, and begin the cycle again.
Libellula is a genus of dragonflies, commonly called chasers and skimmers, distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are well-known, large dragonflies, and can often be seen flying around the Reflecting Pool during the summer. These dragonflies are especially charismatic due to their stylistic wing and body patterns. Like other dragonflies and our red-tailed hawk, skimmers play a vital role in the ecosystem. They will chase down and snatch many different types and sizes of prey including mosquitos, which is great for all of us that enjoy sitting by the Reflecting Pool!
What’s a summer night without a light show? Photinus pyralis is the most common firefly in North America, and despite its common name, is actually a type of beetle. During the summer days, adult fireflies will find refuge in the plant beds and bushes, and like other fireflies, P. pyralis use their bioluminescent abdomens to attract mates during summer nights. If you are in the Park after sundown, keep an eye out for a hovering light show by Elm, Sol Lewitt, and Magnolia lawns.
Local birders, naturalists, and online data collection platforms such as eBird and iNaturalist help us track biodiversity. To learn more about the birds and other flora and fauna throughout Madison Square Park, visit eBird and iNaturalist or read more about our ongoing initiative to support our local wildlife.