A Magical Time on Lake Superior

swallow tail butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly

June can be the best time of the year for pollinators. In northern Wisconsin and Minnesota it is an awesome time for seeing bees, and butterflies! Within two minutes I observed monarchs, swallowtails, sulphurs, northern crescents, painted ladies, dragon flies, and many skippers and bees on a small patch of hawkweed and daisies.

Hawkweed
Orange Hawkweed

Everyone comments about the beautiful lupine near Lake Superior, and it is beautiful to human eyes. If you look closely, very few butterflies and bees crave lupine like they crave Canadian anemone, blooming chives, wild geraniums, blooming trees, forget-me-nots or daisies. The blooming plant that has surprised me the most this year is the orange hawkweed. It is not a native plant, but the butterflies love it.

Female American Redstart

It’s not the best time of the year to see birds, but if you can recognize their songs they bring constant musical joy. The song sparrow, chestnut sided warbler, and a pair of red starts joyfully sing all day.

Lupine on Lake Superior

As long as the sun shines the birds, bees and butterflies seem oblivious to the battle taking place on the big lake. The cold lake ties to dominate the warm tropical winds from the south, and the temperature can fluctuate from 60 degrees to 80 degrees every few minutes. It’s fascinating and refreshing!
The days are long in these northern climes with the sun setting past 9pm and twilight lasting beyond 10pm. No matter where you live get outside and enjoy the marvelous butterflies of summer, in a few weeks they will be gone!

National Pollinator Week

What can you do to help our birds, bees and butterflies?  Can you plant some milkweed or other native plants? Can you become aware and reduce the chemicals you use? Can you learn about neonicotinoids and be sure you never purchase plants that have been treated with them? For your information, neonicotinoids have recently been banned from use by the European Union.

Yesterday I had a mourning cloak, a painted lady, a red admiral, hummingbirds, and monarch caterpillars in my yard.  Milkweed and native plants make a big difference for pollinators. I am not a fan of lists because experience is better, but here are some native plant lists to get you started: https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/About  and from Audubon

Planting purple cone flowers, bee balm, black-eyed Susan and milkweed are easy ways to get started. After years of trying to get milkweed to grow, I now have swamp milkweed everywhere. It has reseeded itself and thrives in my yard. Also, common milkweed and butterfly weed have sprouted up, but only a few monarch butterflies. The few monarch butterflies have a big job ahead of them, and I am still hopeful we can get their numbers to improve! If everyone does a small part, it can make a big difference!

Below is a video from PBS about monarch caterpillars, enjoy!

 

Enjoy the Butterfly Explosion

Painted Lady

Painted lady butterflies are one of my favorites. This week in Minneapolis we had an explosion of painted ladies as they migrate south. Other cities have experienced painted lady migration also. Read about their  migration at Fargo and Lawrence.

Pearly everlasting, painted lady host plant.

Pearly everlasting is a host plant for the painted lady caterpillars and I watch their lives cycle all summer in my yard as they transform from caterpillar, to chrysalis to butterfly on these interesting white flowered plants.

Want to know more about the painted lady? Thoughtco has more information on them. Read at painted lady

Go for a walk and see if you can find migrating monarchs and painted lady butterflies.

Painted Lady by Dave Carpenter, Nokomis Naturescape

 

186 MPH Winds Hit Taiwan

Taiwan
Taiwan

Celebrating migrating butterflies
Celebrating migrating butterflies

Taiwan has been struck by three typhoons in the past month. A few weeks ago Taiwan was pummeled by Typhoon Meranti with winds of 186 MPH. In July  they were struck by Typhoon Nepartak. As the earth warms, most of this warming is in the oceans causing instability. Global warming is making typhoons worse.

Earlier this year I was able to travel around the island of Taiwan with my husband. The people we met were so gracious and happy, and the food fabulous. This rugged mountainous country is beautiful.

Many Motor Scooters
Many Motor Scooters

Because of storms hitting the east side of the island, the Pacific Ocean side, most of the people live on the west side of the island. Map of Taiwan here. My thoughts and best wishes go out to the charming people and marvelous landscapes of Taiwan. I wish Taiwan a quick recovery, and I recommend Taiwan as an interesting place to travel.

Hello to the United States
Hello to the United States

Temples on every street
Temples on every street

A mountainous island
A mountainous tropical island

These two explained the life-cycle of the purple butterfly in English
These two explained the life-cycle of the purple butterfly in English

Butterflies migrate from the southern part of Taiwan over the mountains to northern Taiwan. This was a butterfly festival celebrating migration.

 

Plant For Clean Water

I am at the Minnesota State Fair talking to individuals about rain gardens and native deep-rooted plants. Native plants help absorb pollutants, keep rain water in our yards, save on watering, and are loved by bees, butterflies and birds.

Plant deep-rooted plants for pollinators and clean water.

prairie-grasses
Deep rooted plants absorb run-off

Minnesota Takes the Lead for Bees and Butterflies

Hope for pollinators
Hope for pollinators

“Today, Minnesota set the strongest rules in the nation to protect pollinators from pesticides,” said Lex Horan of Pesticide Action Network. “The plan will help ensure that bee-harming pesticides won’t be used unnecessarily, and it lays the groundwork for reducing the use of neonicotinoid seed coatings. This decision is rooted in the resounding scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are harmful to pollinators. It’s past time for state and federal decisionmakers to take action to restrict the use of bee-harming pesticides, and today Minnesota did just that.”  Read the whole story here.  Another story from Minnesota Public Radio.

An American painted lady
An American painted lady

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/

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

I am Thankful for California!

Round up kills the plants bees and butterflies love!
Round up kills the plants bees and butterflies love!

A Big Reason to be Thankful for California!

I was shopping for a vegetable peeler the other day.  The label said, “This product is known to cause cancer according to the California EPA. Be sure you wash your hands after use” Yikes, who would buy such a product?  Why would a company manufacture such a product?  Below is more watchdog work by California’s EPA:

Big news! California EPA Moves to Label Monsanto’s Roundup ‘Carcinogenic’ http://ow.ly/RQOdP #BanRoundup

In a first for the country, California’s Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) has issued plans to list glyphosate—the toxic active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide—as known to cause cancer.  http://ecowatch.com/2015/09/08/california-becomes-first-state-to-label-monsantos-roundup-as-a-carcinogen/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=4a984bb080-Top_News_9_9_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-4a984bb080-85912169