Write a letter to your local officials

Our elegant monarch butterfly needs some help!
Our elegant monarch butterfly needs some help!


Butterfly Weed is blooming along some interstate highways.
Butterfly Weed is blooming along some interstate highways.

When I see the mowing down native plants pollinators I get angry. My husband and I have just completed a driving loop from Minneapolis to Chicago and back through Iowa. We have traveled Interstate East 94, West Interstate 80 and Interstate 35 North. The entire road trip I surveyed the status of mowing and blooming plants. The shoulders of most of the interstates are not over-mowed, but they are mowing the center median which doesn’t make sense? The best plants can grow in the median if allowed to survive. Some farmers are mowing along the interstates and they do get a little extreme with their mowers. Educating, educating and educating is what we need to continue to do, and it does make a difference. Below is a sample letter I sent to my rural town road crew. I hope you can modify it and send to your local and state government.

Dear local government road crew,
Pollinators, (bees, butterflies and birds) are in trouble in the United States. They have faced serious habitat loss. Last year and the past few years their numbers seemed smaller compared to the years before. Bees and butterflies need the nectar and pollen from flowers for their survival. The Obama Administration is working to plant pollinator plants along our interstate highways to improve bird, bee and butterfly habitat. The plants along the roadways in our town are a natural habitat for birds, butterflies and bees. Now as the daisies, lupine and other wild plants bloom we have beautiful roadways for residents and food for butterflies and bees.
I am writing to ask you to not mow the entire right-a-way along our town roads until maybe late August or even better would be September. I know you need to mow for safety, and that is important. Could you please not mow every flower down until early fall? Maybe mow just a strip along the roads leaving plant food for our pollinators. The bees, butterflies, birds and humans would thank you for the needed nectar, and fabulous summer beauty.
If I can get a commitment from you to mow a little later, I will spread milkweed seeds along the town roads creating more butterfly and bee habitat.
Thank you,

Your name

Wisconsin energy co-ops to create monarch butterfly habitat 

Searching for milkweed along our interstate highways!
Searching for milkweed along our roads and highways!



Exciting New Program for Monarch Butterflies

Monarch caterpillar in my yard last year
Monarch caterpillar in my yard last year

This week I had one monarch butterfly checking out butterfly weed in my Minneapolis yard. Last week I spotted one monarch in Northern Wisconsin. It is sad that we get excited counting our famous butterflies in the quantities of one.wpid-wp-1409341499490.jpeg

Hopefully, a new program by announced by the White House will help get our monarch butterflies back on track. See article: http://www.startribune.com/calling-all-milkweed-federal-pollinator-plan-needs-a-billion-plants-for-monarchs/306383591/

We can all help:

1. Plant milkweed. Most garden stores still do not carry milkweed. Seeds are available, but not the best option.  I transplant plants from friends gardens.  Ask major garden stores to carry milkweed plants.

2 Please do not use Roundup or neonicotinoids, and always ask if the plants you purchase have been treated with neonicotinoids.

3. Inform yourself on host plants for butterflies http://www.ecosystemgardening.com/host-plants-for-butterflies.html

4. Never pick off fuzz or little spots on plants.  These could be eggs

chrysallis in my yard last year, turned into the monarch above.
chrysalis in my yard last year, turned into the monarch above.

Buffer Zones, Great for Us and Wildlife


Plant Blue Flag Iris and native grasses to filter water run off.
Plant Blue Flag Iris and native grasses to filter water run off.

Our water belongs to all of us!” Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota

To improve water quality in our yards and along lakes and streams we need to slow water down and keep it on our property.  This helps to keep chemicals and sediment on our properties instead of washing away.  Native plants and buffer strips would be a great start to improve water run-off.

This is a post about the need to improve farm water run-off.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has proposed vigorous legislation that has farm groups upset.  Unfortunately, when the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, agriculture was not included, and feel any regulation of their water run off is an unfair burden.  Somehow farm groups miss the point that all our communities are required to spend millions of dollars to keep our drinking water, rivers and lakes clean.  Farm run-off has a pass.

I have written on these pages before of my disappointment of Minnesota to enforce their buffer zones laws.  Minnesota’s Governor Dayton has proposed stiffer enforcement to get land owners to comply and install buffers.  This is a win-win for the people of Minnesota, the Mississippi River, Minnesota’s over 10,000 lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.  It could create fabulous habitat for Minnesota’s butterflies, birds, bees, and all wildlife.

http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/299464721.html    Buffer strips are a call for clean water



http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/288891021.html Tougher standards needed to protect our waters.

http://www.startribune.com/sports/outdoors/288941071.html by Dennis Anderson

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/289518611.html Buffer strips protect water and habitat

Buffer strips with milkweed
Buffer strips with milkweed

New Monarch Butterflies

This is why you should plant milkweed.

The story of three new monarch butterflies, August 2014:

First, swamp milkweed


Then four monarch caterpillars


A few weeks later, vibrant colored monarchs


Next I discovered three empty chrysalis hanging on goldenrod !


Yahoo, the caterpillars had evolved into beautiful monarch butterflies!


August, Get Outside!

Monarch caterpillars on swamp milkweed
Monarch caterpillars on swamp milkweed

Superior views,  August 2014

August sunset in a murky sky
August sunset in a murky sky

August is the best month of the year on Lake Superior.  The weather is perfect, and there is so much to enjoy.  The dog days of summer don’t happen here, and it is perfect to be active outside.

Many baby birds are everywhere . The young chickadees, purple finch, and song sparrows are more interested in  playing and having fun than their safety. A song sparrows even tries to play with a chipmunk.  Grosbeaks and vireos eat berries from the elderberry bushes that are a month late to bloom. Screeching juvenile eagles sit in the white pine overlooking Lake Superior, but the day’s excitement settles down when a fox walks through to check out the days activity.

Temperatures are 70 degree perfect, but the sun is murky and the lake hazy from wild fires in Canada,

Many pollinator plants are trying to bloom because of the still cold lake, and the bee and butterfly numbers are low as they wait for their favorites to blossom!   The very best has been the swamp milkweed with four monarch caterpillars eating their leaves.

Swamp Milkweed
Swamp Milkweed