Yikes, a Moth!

Hummingbird moths appear in the daytime.
Hummingbird moths appear in the daytime.

The luna moth grows to a wingspan of four and a half inches.

Credit: David Moskowitz

What do you know about moths?  They are not the “Ick” insect you might of thought of as a child.  Because most, not all, are nocturnal we might not experience them except caught in a window or spider web. The best ones I have seen are in the bathrooms of campgrounds, and they are magnificent! This is National Moth Week, so what better time to get out and see if you can find and observe a moth.  This information is from  http://www.livescience.com/

Seven facts about moths:

1.There are more than 11,000 species of moths in the U.S. alone.

Moths outnumber butterflies, their nearest relative, by more than 10 to 1, said Matthew Shepherd, communications director and senior conservation associate at the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization focused on insect conservation in Portland, Ore. There are upward of 11,000 moth species in the United States alone — that’s more than all the bird and mammal species in North America combined.

A moth the size of a pencil tip.
A moth the size of a pencil tip.

Credit: David Moskowitz

2. Moths make great mimics.

Moths are notorious for their ability to camouflage to keep from being eaten.

3. Moths are important pollinators.

4. Many adult moths don’t eat.

While some moths suck nectar, others don’t eat at all. The adult Luna moth, for instance, doesn’t even have a mouth. After it emerges from its cocoon, it lives for about a week. Its sole mission in life? To mate and lay eggs

The luna moth grows to a wingspan of four and a half inches.

The luna moth grows to a wingspan of four and a half inches.

Credit: David Moskowitz

 

5. A male moth can smell a female more than 7 miles away.

Though they lack noses, moths are expert sniffers. They detect odor molecules using their antennae instead of through nostrils.  Male giant silkworm moths have elaborate, feather-shaped antennae with hairlike scent receptors that allow them to detect a single molecule of a female moth’s sex hormone from 7 miles (11 kilometers) away.

6. They are important food for many animals.

Because of their abundance, moths are major players at the bottom of the food chain.

7. Moths: The next superfood?

In some places in the world they eat moth caterpillars. They are high in fat and protein.

Read the entire article from livescience

 Explore the world of moths this week and enjoy!  Let us know where you see them?

 
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One River Drains Lake Superior

Magnificent Lake Superior has over 300 rivers and streams that drain into it. Last week it was a brown lake because of mega rainfall in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan where many rivers dumped sediment from the storms. I am on a road trip from Duluth, Minnesota along the south shore of Lake Superior to Sault Ste Marie and the St. Mary’s River. Canada is on the other side of the lake and across the St. Mary’s River.

An ore boat leaves Lake Superior on the St Mary’s. River headed toward Lake Huron

Even though 300 streams drain into the big lake only one, the St. Mary’s River, carries boats and water away from Lake Superior. The St. Mary’s River carries about 42 billion gallons of water from Lake Superior daily.

Lake Superior, looks browner than this picture below appears.  I think the sun makes it look bluer than it is.

Butterflies are Vanishing Around The World

“Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the people of the earth.” Chief Seattle

If Everyone Does a Little It Can Add up to A Lot!

Fritillary on bee balm
Fritillary on bee balm

Have you noticed how few butterflies are flittering around this summer? Researchers find that butterfly species throughout the world are disappearing because of pollution, pesticides, and habitat loss.  A newly released study says many butterflies are vanishing.

The author suggests we remove some of our lawn, and plant more flowers.  Yes, we should plant more flowers, but beside planting more flowers we need to reduce the use of the chemicals we put on our lawns, in our gardens and on our agricultural fields.

Reducing chemicals and planting host plants for butterflies can make a big difference.  Many of us are actively working on planting milkweed for monarchs, but there are many other butterfly species.  Besides milkweed I have pearly everlasting for the American painted lady, turtlehead for the checkerspot butterfly, and golden Alexander for the black swallow-tail. Violets are great for the fritillary butterflies.  This is one of the best charts I have seen on plants for butterflies from Bringing Nature Home   And some ideas from the University of Minnesota for plants that are favored for butterflies an moths. Please let me know what your best plants for butterflies are?

An American painted lady
An American painted lady

More information of pollinators: http://www.xerces.org/

What happened to our “Sky Blue” waters?

Is this how lakes should look? We all need to do better.
Is this how lakes should look? We all need to do better.

Minnesota, the land of “Sky Blue Waters” is adding more than 300 lakes, rivers and streams to its list of lakes and streams that are impaired. The story from MPR is here.

About two-thirds of Minnesota watersheds have been tested and 40 percent of Minnesota rivers and lakes have been found to be impaired by farm runoff, bacteria, mercury or other pollutants.

 

The below ideas for protecting our lakes is from the Superiorforum.org , Sigurd Olson Institute, Northland college, and the EPA, and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
1 .Be conservative with your water use.
2. Recycle as much as you can with the 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. And….NEVER burn trash.
3. Curb Yard Pollution. Put your lawn on a chemical-free diet!!
4. Stop aquatic invasives by cleaning plants and animals off your boat.
5. Plant native plants, and reduce turf grass.
6. Plant native trees According to Audubon, oak trees are the best for attracting insects and birds.
7. Install a rain barrel
8. Create an energy-efficient home.
9. Bring hazardous waste to waste collection sites.
10. Love our lakes!

I would add several more:
1. Rain gardens are excellent for capturing harmful water runoff.
2. Keep leaves and trash out of streets and storm drains-Adopt a storm drain!

Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!

Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!

3. Never use cleaning products or hand sanitizer with triclosan.
4. Reduce all plastic use–If you must use plastic bags and bottles, be sure you recycle them.                                                  5. Pick up all liter.

 

 

 

My Pollinator Friendly Yard

No chemicals needed!
No chemicals needed!
Plant for the monarch butterfly
Plant for the monarch butterfly

Today my yard is teaming with pollinators.  The bees are in abundance, house finch and hummingbirds are loving the fresh blooming plants, and I am thrilled.  Butterflies have been slow to appear, but today I had a giant swallowtail, several red admirals, a painted lady, and a monarch!

The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. Photo credit: Brian GratwickeThe Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke

An American lady
An American lady
swamp milkweed ready for monarch butterflies
Swamp milkweed ready for monarch butterflies

 

Bee balm, cone flowers, and milkweed will bring butterflies, bees and butterflies.

Try this link to research and look up butterflies

 

 

The Magnificent Butterfly

An American lady on a dandeloin
An American lady on a dandelion

Have you looked carefully at a butterfly?  They are some of the most beautiful living species on our planet.  The past few years I have loved learning about butterflies.   Butterflies often sit so we can see them, and many binoculars make it possible to examine them closely.

Be sure to get outside this summer and look around for butterflies and other wildlife in your backyard. If you see a but aren’t sure about the species, you can consult this handy identification guide.    This is from http://ecowatch.com

Here are 10 fascinating facts to consider next time you cross a butterfly’s path:

1. There are more than 17,500 recorded butterfly species around the world, 750 of which can be found in the U.S.

2. Butterflies and moths are part of the class of insects in the order Lepidoptera. Butterflies are flying insects with large scaly wings. Like all insects, they have six jointed legs and three body parts: the head, the thorax and the abdomen. The wings are attached to the thorax and they also have a pair of antennae, compound eyes and an exoskeleton.

3. The Cabbage White, is the most common butterfly in the U.S. Although it appears mostly white with black markings on the top of its wings, underneath those wings are yellowish-green. These butterflies have a wing spread of just about two inches. Males have only one spot on each wing, while females have two. As you probably know, you can find Cabbage Whites in most open spaces, including gardens, roadsides, parks and cities.

4. Monarch butterflies migrate to get away from the cold. However, they are the only insect that migrates an average of 2,500 miles to find a warmer climate. The iconic North

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly

American Monarch has been greatly affected by extreme weather events, going through drastic dips and spikes in numbers over the past several decades. The overall pattern continues to point downward, with a 95 percent population decline over the last 20 years, but conservation efforts are helping: There were more monarch butterflies migrating in 2015 than there were in 2014.

5. Monarchs are not the only butterfly that migrate. The Painted Lady, American Lady, Red Admiral, Cloudless Sulphur, Skipper, Sachem, Question Mark, Clouded Skipper, Fiery Skipper and Mourning Cloak are among the other butterflies that also migrate, but not as far as the Monarchs.

6. The Common Buckeye Butterfly is one of the most striking butterflies, with its bold multicolored eyespots and thick upper-wing bars, all designed to frighten away any birds that might be tempted to chomp on them. If you look under its wings, you’ll find a more abstract profusion of brown, orange and beige. These insects are pretty common all over North and Central America, although you won’t find them in the Pacific Northwest or in the far north of Canada.

The Common Buckeye Butterfly. Photo credit: Thinkstock
The Common Buckeye Butterfly. Photo credit: Thinkstock

10. The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, as its name implies, is one of the biggest butterflies, with a wing spread of four to seven inches. The female is once again bigger than the male. It too is found throughout North America and sometimes as far south as South America. These butterflies are called “swallow” because they have long tails on their hind wings that resemble the long, pointed tails of the birds known as swallows.

The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke
The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke

Read the entire list here

http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Butterflies  Identification Chart