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!
My hero plant is the dandelion, yes, dandelion! The dandelion attracts the monarchs, painted lady, red admiral, tiger swallow-tail and many other butterflies. I am trying to create habitat for the many butterflies that inhabit the north country. Swamp milkweed, pearly everlasting and pussy toes are my newest plants for butterfly habitat. The road where we walk,covered with dandelions, is where the painted lady, dusty wings, and sulfurs hang out, and I had monarch and tiger swallow-tail butterfly sightings this week!
Robins are raising babies just outside my door, and the forest is joyful with the sounds of the white-throated sparrow, chestnut sided warbler, red starts, robins, song sparrows, pewee, buzz of the parula and many warblers songs we are still trying to identify. Most days the air is cool, and the wind off the big lake regulates the temperatures and weather.
The monarch butterfly numbers have plummeted, and experts tell us it is habitat loss due to bad weather(climate change), mono-cultures of corn and soybeans, and pesticides.
Why can’t you purchase common milkweed at garden stores? The experts say we should be planting common milkweed. For the past two summers I have been trying to purchase milkweed. Even native plant stores say, “Our supplier doesn’t carry common milkweed” They consider it a weed.
For years I have been scattering seeds, but have not seen any results.
A garden store 3 hours from my home dug some out of their garden for me. It was wilted by the time I was able to get it planted, but I cut it off and stuck in the ground. Two weeks later it has some new growth and I am thrilled.
The last few years a monarch sighting was special, but this year, I can count on one hand the number of monarchs I have seen on my daily walks. We all need to act!
What can we all do?
Tell garden stores you would like to purchase common milkweed, and to please find a source so they can sell it to their customers.
Plant other plants the monarchs love: Liatris, cone flowers, hyssop, butterflyweed, swamp milkweed and many smelly orange and yellow flowers.
Reduce the amount of turf grass in your yard, and if possible just leave some wild areas for the birds, bees and butterflies. Bees and butterflies love dandelions
Do not use chemicals, especially neonicotinoid pesticides.
Use as many organic food products as you can, and buy local.