Despite the massive cloud of news about the harmful effects of drought and extreme heat, those current conditions across Indiana may have at least a dull bronze lining, at least in some instances. But you have to look hard. Here’s a sampling.
Anglers have reason for optimism.
- In the Wabash River, the drought is killing invasive Asian carp, which are a threat to native species. Asian carp prefer living in oxbows and backwater areas, which are drying up and leaving the fish stranded without adequate water. “At least Asian carp may not gain an additional competitive advantage over native species this year,” said Bill James, chief of fisheries for Indiana DNR. “It might be a year where things kind of hold their own. Species like smallmouth bass tend to have higher reproductive success during low flow years.”
- The drought has created favorable fishing conditions for many species. For example, low water in Indiana’s streams and rivers has concentrated fish in pockets of deeper water, making them easier to find. In Lake Michigan, summer-run steelhead are hesitant to return to warmer-than-normal streams and are concentrating in near-shore water, resulting in excellent fishing.
- The good news with a warning: As water heats, its capacity to hold oxygen diminishes, and could result in fish kills.
Wildlife in general:
- While wildlife will be stressed and there may be some lower survival of young and mortality of older, weaker animals, and increased predation as prey and predators congregate on limited resources, wildlife species have ways of adapting as they have in previous drought years. Wildlife will reduce their activities or change the timing of their activities, thus they may not be as visible to us. When the rains return we may be surprised by the wildlife that appear as conditions improve.
Good news on some bugs:
- The raining of honeydew from tulip trees has stopped or slowed. Starting in May, tulip tree scale began “raining” honeydew, a sticky waste product of the scale, on people and property near such trees. That “rain” has slowed as the trees adjust to a lack of real rain. The scale epidemic was a result of mild winter weather and early spring weather. Reduced honeydew “rain” is good, clean news, short-term, for humans; however, the current reduction is also due to the scale’s maturing. Although the trees are still releasing some honeydew, tulip tree leaves are turning yellow, then will turn brown and fall off, a method of surviving both the scale and the drought. People with tulip trees should consider switching from using insecticide to battle the scale to watering their tree, if affordable. More on scale at:
If you like hearing the annual cicadas’ singing, you may be hearing their tune sooner this year because of the early spring. Their singing period also may be longer because of the dry soil prolonging emergence.
From State Parks & Reservoirs:
Nature centers, found at many state parks & reservoirs, are usually air-conditioned. The educational opportunities provided may seem even “cooler” than usual under these extreme heat conditions. Many properties offer refreshing treats like boat rentals, snack bars, lakes and swimming pools. Please note that some reservoir beaches are closed due to low water. See InterpretiveServices.IN.gov and StateParks.IN.gov for more information.
- Lower water allows waterfront property owners to check manmade features around streams, rivers and lakes for problems that are otherwise typically hidden underwater. Repair or maintenance projects already underway may have a longer work window.
Image Courtesy of Indiana DNR