Monday, October 26, 2015


This is the view from my patio the week of October 15th

The Missouri Ozarks are amazing regardless of the season. We span 3 temperature ranges which spell some different weather patterns for us throughout the year and even more so in the fall. While September spells autumn for many in other areas of the country, September is still ‘summer’ for us. The light is waning but the daily temps are still in the upper 80s to mid 90s (by contrast, July and August are traditionally upper 90s to a little over 100) and the grass is still lush and green and we’re still mowing the lawn weekly. We’re still running the AC daily. The rivers and lakes are still warm enough to swim in despite Labor Day closures of the pools the rivers still have plenty of swimmers. But the temperatures are dropping and we are losing daylight.

Purples and pinks-Ceil Abbott
By the latter part of September, the walnut trees start coloring up in their yellow fall finery. They are the first to lose their leaves. The last week in September and first week in October is when many of the vines, shrubs, berry plants and under story trees start showing signs of fall color. My area is home to over 200 plant species and most display fall colors. An Ozark foliage turn doesn't happen as quickly as the color change in northern states. Here, in the Ozarks, we have two color peaks in the foliage.

There is the false peak which usually happens between October 14-20th. False Peak is when you see the most intense color and the widest range of colors you'll see scarlet, deep mahogany, purple, black, blue, and multiple shades of gold. We have what you would call a 'slow turn' in foliage. It usually starts in the river and creek bottoms and then progresses up the hills. By the time peak color appears on the hillsides most of the trees along the rivers wil have long since peaked and dropped their leaves.

True peak will always occur during the last few days of October and the first few days of November, typically from October 26 to November 5th, give or take a few days. Peak foliage is highly dependent upon weather conditions. It takes clear sunny days with temperatures no warmer than mid 60's, and cooler nights with temperatures no higher than the high 30's to mid 4'0s, with a few nights in the 50's. This year true peak is a bit slow because it's been warmer during the day which delays the turn a few days. True peak colors are limited to the oranges, yellows, and mahogany hues. We have 36 species of oak here and each group had their own time table for turning and variations of colors.

The weather is giving its last hurrah before the onset of the cold here in South Central Missouri.  The days are very warm and sunny and the nights are jacket cool. Other than the trees we do have several more, not so pleasant, ‘signs’ of the coming cold weather. The wasps are invading my Mums and basking on the western side of the house. Nasty things. Another is the Woolly Bear caterpillars which are crawling everywhere—on the patio, up the sides of the house, on trees and shrubs, and in the yard. Weather is still warm so I’m usually barefoot and though I try to avoid them there are so many that I can’t help but step on some. Ewww.

Then there are the Asian lady bugs. They’re wonderful for taking care of aphids and such in the summer gardens but mid-October they start swarming and looking for a warm place to winter and that usually is inside my house or swimming in my coffee cup. Ugh. And they bite. I was lying down resting in the bedroom yesterday and happen to glance up to the ceiling. I counted 20 above my head. I decided to go rest in the recliner in living room. Dan cleared them out of the bedroom and he’s done this for several days, so I can sleep. Last thing I wanted was falling lady bugs. Did I mention they can bite?

While the Missouri Ozarks are gorgeous in the autumn when it comes to signs of fall and winter there are some I love and some I don’t. I’m not particularly squeamish when it comes to insects, except maybe ants, but I have to say I much prefer the fall foliage, migrating birds, and the changing of the angle of the sun and all the richness of light and shadow, to swarming insects looking at my house as their winter paradise.

Photos courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation, Ceil Abbott, and personal pictures.


Natalie Aguirre said...

Loved the pictures. You live in such beautiful countryside. Our leaves are changing now too. It's gorgeous. Not looking forward to the cold winter that comes after this, but am hoping for a warmer one this year.

Jo said...

Lovely pictures and descriptions. I hate those Lady Bugs, prefer the original ones which don't bite. We love the view of the park right outside our windows and can watch all the colour changes every year. I could not walk around with bare feet, never been able to. My mom could, my dad couldn't.

~Sia McKye~ said...

NATALIE--Love the colors but not the winter after. I think it would be nice to have a milder winter this year.

JO--bet the views are spectacular. I love walking barefoot and the connection to the earth--get to soak up all the healing magnetic forces from the earth. Dad couldn't or wouldn't go barefoot but all the rest of us did. :-)

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

life is good if the worst thing about fall is ladybugs...huh?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've noticed a few woolly caterpillars here as well.
Not sure when we hit peak. Our state has beaches to mountains and every area is different.

Karen Walker said...

This seems like a weird year to me, our colors in the city are just beginning to change. Usually they're past their prime by now. Beautiful pics, Sia.

~Sia McKye~ said...

MAC--I figure every day above ground is a good one. :-) We have a rich tapestry of colors and textures and I love it.

ALEX--Woollys are everywhere, even in the artic. Did you know that they freeze solid in winter and can live up to 20 years in artic? I didn't.

KAREN--it is a weird year as far as colors are concerned. I think poor old autumn is confused in many places.

Mason Canyon said...

Sia, love the photos. Fall is a beautiful time of year with all the various colors. I'm with you on the insects though. The ladybugs are the worst.

~Sia McKye~ said...

MASON--thanks. I particularly like Ceil Abbots purple and pinks photo. As far as Woollys go it's the sheer numbers of them everywhere and having to watch where you step. The ladybugs, however, creep in through cracks and crevises and even with screens find their way in and I'm not at all fond of them unless they stay outside in the gardens. :-)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The cooler weather kills off some of our bugs, like fruit flies, and I'm glad when that happens. We were in Arkansas recently and the Ozark leaves were just beginning to change.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It looks beautiful. Our trees all seem to be changing at a different time this year so my backyard has bare trees but across the street there are red and orange beauties.
We get the ladybugs trying to get inside too. And worse, the stinkbugs.

Susan Says

Mark Koopmans said...


Ladybugs bite????

My view of the world is now forever changed... that is soooooo not cool to hear as I wuv those wittle cuddly ladybirds...


PS: Thanks for the recent and very *supportive* words.. yes, we're nearly there and I'm going to get 'er done :)

(and then sleep...)

Denise Covey said...

Lovely photos and descriptions of something I've never really experienced except on a small scale. The colours are absolutely stunning and those bugs look interesting. Stinkbugs sound rather, ah, nasty!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Beautiful pictures!
Autumn in Pennsylvania can be variable -- cold and rainy -- or warm and sunny, like a second spring. This year my dogwood tree was tricked into starting to flower again. And I have a rose bush that has unexpectedly reached its stunning peak in this last week of October.

Kat Sheridan said...

Such lovely pictures. I do miss seeing autumn (but not the snow that's sure to follow!) And I would run screaming from the bugs. And stepping on them? EWWWW indeed! Thank you for sharing your lovely autumn photos so I can enjoy it vicariously!

~Sia McKye~ said...

DIANE--Arkansas is a bit south of us and usually are about a week behind us in color. yah, all the bugs are disappearing except for the Woolly Bears and ladybug. There are fewer of both now. :-)

SUSAN--we do have stinkbugs but not in huge quantities, thankfully and none seem to want to come in the house. I'll take the ladybugs over those nasty things.

MARK--yah, ladybugs are deceptively cute or at least until they swarm. Not so cute then. Glad things are going good for you and yes, sleep would be a great thing with kids and a book to launch.

DENISE--we do have some interesting insects in my neck of the woods and while I enjoy seeing them in their natural environment, I don't like invasions, lol! No, stinkbugs are really nasty if they infest your home.

DIANNE--we've had second spring type weather here now and then. Confuses the heck out of some of the flowering plants. Bet those roses were gorgeous!

KAT--thank you. I do love the colors of fall and weather getting that crisp air but I do NOT look forward to any snow. Yes, stepping on any barefoot was really icky and ladybugs make a crunching noise when I step on them which makes me cringe. I did put on my clogs. They pile up around the doors and edges of house and walkways so you can't avoid them.

Jemi Fraser said...

Gorgeous pics! Our peak came and went so quickly this year! One weekend was pre-peak and we were planning on photos on the next weekend, but between the winds and rain and snow, we missed it! I'll enjoy your photos vicariously :)

Stephanie Faris said...

I think we just peaked this week! I wasn't even seeing colors until then. Of course, it's been all rainy and yucky so I'm looking forward to seeing hte pretty colors in the sunlight before it all goes bleak.

Yolanda Renée said...

These are gorgeous!
You have a lovely view from your patio!
Wishing you well!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia - I'm still catching up - what amazing photos of the colours and the fact you have three zones of weather to contend with .. mind you it's much more interesting. 'Cept wish it wasn't bucketing here today!!

Those buggy things do need a frost to send them off for a few months ... we are so warm (hence the rain) that we've loads of bugs too - but thankfully they tend to stay outside!

Cheers Hilary

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