OSU Phenology Garden Network

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What is phenology?

Phenology is the study of recurring biological phenomena and their relationship to weather.  Bird migration, hunting and gathering seasons, blooming of wildflowers and trees, and the seasonal appearance of insects are examples of phenological events that have been recorded for centuries.  We have all observed that plants bloom earlier in warm springs.  Insects also emerge earlier when it is warm than in cooler seasons.  Because the development of both plants and insects is temperature dependent, plants can accurately track the environmental factors that determine when insects are active.  For this reason, plant phenology can be used to predict insect emergence.  Indeed, the use of plant phenology to predict insect activity is an old practice, with recorded observations dating back at least 300 years.  In fact, research at The Ohio State University has shown that plants bloom and insects emerge in virtually the same order every year, no matter what kind of weather occurred that winter or spring.  For this reason, the flowering sequence of plants can be used as a biological calendar to predict insect activity, and to time other gardening practices that are dependent on a particular stage of plant development, such as propagation or weed control.  The trees and shrubs planted in the OSU Phenology Garden network sites will be monitored for the first and full bloom, which will assist with identifying insect activity.