The vernal equinox — first day of spring — occurs on Wednesday, March 20, this year, precisely at 21:58 UTC (Universal Time Coordinated, or Greenwich Mean Time), which is 5:58 p.m. EDT. The sun rises due east and sets due west on this date everywhere on earth; so take this opportunity to mark these cardinal compass points on your home horizon.

Our ancient ancestors may not have known that the sun was directly over the earth’s equator, or that there were equal amounts of daylight and dark (equinox); but they surely noted that when the sun was overhead at midday it was exactly midway between its lowest path across the sky in winter and its highest path across the sky in summer.

March 20 has more to offer. For the first time in nearly 40 years, March’s full moon — called the Worm Moon — will occur on the same day as the spring equinox. What’s more, this full moon will also be a super moon, meaning that it will be slightly larger and brighter than most of the other full moons this year.

BUTTERFLIES: Now is the time to prepare to plant wildflowers and milkweed to help monarch butterflies (and other pollinating insects), and at the same time good habitat for wildlife in general. The various milkweed plants are perennials which can grow all over the U.S. and they are essential to the survival of all monarch caterpillars. Besides that, milkweed adds a lot to a wildflower garden and it requires no maintenance.

What are milkweed seed bombs? They are easy to make and super easy to plant. Check out SaveOurMonarchs Foundation, a 501c3 charity. They offer free milkweed seeds to anyone requesting them, and larger quantities for a small donation. For seeds and more information go to; or contact Ward Johnson at 952-829-0600. For an excellent source of high quality wildflower seeds, contact Roundstone Native Seed Co. at or call 270-531-3034; also, see the Native American Seed Co. at or call 800-728-4043.

FISHING: Changes in the fishing regulations for 2019-2020 are listed on page four of the 2019-2020 Tennessee Fishing Guide, and they went into effect on March 1. Some of the new rules are geared toward limiting the spread of the invasive Asian carp.

In TWRA Region I and II, skipjack herring, gizzard shad, and threadfin shad will not be able to be transported live from the Mississippi River and Barkley, Kentucky, and Pickwick reservoirs and any tributaries or oxbows of these waters. The restrictions do not apply to the Duck River above Normandy Dam. These bait species are similar in appearance to small Asian carp.

In Region III seasons have changed on the Tellico River, Citico Creek, and Green Cove Pond to allow for optimal stocking and fishing conditions during the permit season. Big Lost Creek, Goforth Creek, Spring Creek, and Greasy Creek and their tributaries in Polk County have been changed to follow statewide regulations. This adds fishing opportunity to these creeks which are currently closed on Friday.

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Tom Wiest is a long time columnist on all matters outdoors. He welcomes news, questions and comments from readers.

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