Summer Wildlife: Life on the Oval Lawn

The lush green lawns found throughout Madison Square Park are a blend of various types of grass that host a diverse collection of wildlife. Today, we take a closer look at the ground beneath us and highlight life on the Oval Lawn.

Alsike Clovers, Trifolium hybridum (plant) 

Summer Wildlife: Life on the Oval Lawn

Trifolium hybridum bursting from pink to white over the sea of green.

Did you know that one of the plants that blend into the surface of the Oval could bring you some fortune? Clovers consist of over 300 species and belong to the pea family. They can be found in patches across the lawn and tend to flower from late spring through summer. These delicate flowers become a rare source of food for pollinators foraging across the ocean of lawn grass, and are especially attractive to honey bees, bottle flies, and small hoverflies. Watch your step and you might even find a four-leaf clover in the mix! Clover is great for the lawn and actually helps fertilize the grass by fixing nitrogen—elements essential to lawn health.

Milky Conecap, Conocybe apala (fungi)

Summer Wildlife: Life on the Oval Lawn

Conocybe apala near the end of their lifespans after a heavy rain period at Madison Square Park.

Emerging from the grassy surface, Milky Conecap mushrooms of the genus conocybe have found a brief home on the Oval Lawn. These fragile fungal friends are short lived—lasting only about 24 hours—and can be found on the lawns after heavy rains from June through October. They are also extremely fragile and will often crumble when handled, so we recommend avoiding them.

Groundsel Bush Beetle, Trirhabda bacharidis (insects)

Summer Wildlife: Life on the Oval Lawn

A Trirhabda bacharidis beetle swinging from blade to blade through the Oval Lawn grasses.

Every day many beetles trek across the Oval Lawn in search for food and suitable nesting grounds. Some simply stop for rest and shelter along their extensive migration. Groundsel Bush beetles are one of the many beetles on this journey. They look for specific tastes and will not stop to eat or nest until they find plants in the Baccharis genus (hence the name). Their black and yellow pattern can often be confused with striped cucumber beetles and elm leaf beetles that are also found in the Park. Adults emerge from their larval state in April and can be spotted within the grassy surface through the fall season.

Local naturalists, birders, and online data collection platforms such as iNaturalist and eBird help us track biodiversity. To learn more about the insects and other flora and fauna throughout Madison Square Park, visit iNaturalist and eBird, or read more about our ongoing initiative to support our local wildlife.