The Door Peninsulas Astronomical Society offers lectures at Crossroads’ Astronomy Campus on the first Tuesday of every month at 7:00, but this month the will be unusual and a bit more colorful: a live video feed featuring Tom Field, the developer of RSpec spectroscopy software. He will explain how amateur astronomers can use spectroscopy “to do solid science and analyze the spectral signatures of celestial objects even from light-polluted back yards, and they can do it at pretty low cost.”
We all know about the spectrum from our elementary school science classes and most people have learned somewhere along the line that the colors we see are a remarkably small portion of the full electromagnetic spectrum. But what surprises most people is that our colors—the colors humans see may or may not be the colors other animals see.
Now that spring wildflowers are finally starting to bloom, insects are becoming active. Colors attract insects, and that’s important because most of our spring flowers are pollinated by insects.
Understand that insects find some colors more attractive than others. It’s not so much a matter of preference, but of insect vision. For example, honeybees do not see the same colors we humans do. Apparently, bees do not respond to the red end of our visible light spectrum, but they can see a color–ultraviolet—which is beyond the range of human vision.
We believe that wild bees also are able to see yellows, blues and purples quite well. Consequently, wildflowers which are yellow, blue or purple are more likely to be pollinated. And that increases their chances of survival. Not coincidently, early blooming Door County wildflowers indeed are these three colors–or white. White to us, anyway. Bees see white flowers as ultraviolet.
Now that the hummingbirds are back and butterflies are about, we will be seeing more red and orange flowers. Obviously, hummingbirds not only see red, but they seem to find red particularly attractive.
From now until fall frost, we will enjoy a kaleidoscope of flowers in ever changing colors and patterns, but unlike a kaleidoscope, which has random patterns, flower are the way they are in response to a long standing relationship to their pollinators. Each plant blooms in the color of survival.
Flowers (and vegetables) of all colors of the spectrum will be for sale at the Master Gardeners Plant Sale which will be held at the Peninsular Experimental Station on Saturday May 31. Though the sale is not held at Crossroads, the proceeds from the event help to underwrite the outstanding lecture series which is offered in the Collins Learning Center Lecture Hall. So attend and buy lots!!
A naturalist-led wildlflower hike at Crossroads will be offered on June 1 at 1:00 and on Monday at 1:00 at the Ida Bay Forest. Meet at the Collins Learning Center for both hikes. Visitors are always welcome to explore Crossroads and the Ida Bay Forest on their own.
Crossroads at Big Creek is a donor-supported preserve welcoming learners of all ages to programs in science, history and the environment. Summer hours for the Collins Learning Center begin June 2 and will be 1:30-3:30 daily and during scheduled events.