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!
It is worrisome that most plants still contain neonicotinoids!Native plants areNeonicotinoid free
Purchasing plants that are free of neonicotinoids is a challenge. I went to the local nursery that claimed to not use neonics. They don’t use the neonic pesticide, but their suppliers might. The clerk was very helpful, but most of the annuals
were not neonic free. I had to search through the plants for specific containers, but the large majority of the plants still available could have been treated with neonics.
Report Release from Friends of the Earth: Gardeners Beware 2014
In a study commissioned by Friends of the Earth and conducted by independent scientists at the Pesticide Research Institute, findings show that most “bee-friendly” garden plants sold at major retailers in the US are routinely pre-treated with bee-harming pesticides, with no warnings to consumers.
Bees are dying at alarming rates, and neonic pesticides are a key contributor to recent hive losses. Bees and other pollinators are essential for two-thirds of the food crops humans eat every day, and contribute over $20 billion dollars to the US economy. Our own food security is tied closely to the survival of bees and other pollinators – we must take swift action to protect them.
The power to practicing bee-safe pest control is in your hands. Read the full report here and learn how to get started.
It seems crazy to be talking about pollinators as another Polar Vortex hits Minnesota, but I really liked the below post on “10 things You Can Do To Help Bees.” Also, the thought of flowers makes us happy!! I consider myself a pollinator plant gardener and get enormous joy from the birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife that love my chemical free plants and yard. Bees are important for the survival of many of our foods and flowers, and the drastic decline of our bees and butterflies can be blamed on many things, but habitat loss from droughts and floods; pesticide use; and the mono culture that has been created with our corn and soybean culture are three of the top concerns. All of us can do better for our bees and butterflies. See what you can do.
What can you do for pollinators?
1. Plant bee-friendly plants. A few of my favorites that bees also love are chives, Anise Hyssop, bee balm (Menardia), golden rod, and asters. Do not purchase plants at Lowes or Home Depot. They may contain hidden pollinator killing chemicals. Find native plants for your area: http://findnativeplants.com/2. Dandelions and clover are good for pollinators and bring many pollinators into your yard. Both bees and monarch butterflies love dandelions!
3. Don’t use chemicals or pesticides on your lawn or garden, and never use the Neonicotinoid pesticide.
“Maybe you can’t change the whole world, but you can change your world.” Harvey Mackay
Climate change is real, human activity is causing it, and with all of us taking simple actions we can make a big difference. Below are my suggestions for a new commitment to our earth, our children, and to our own health!
My top TEN suggestions for a happier healthier 2014:
Always turn off lights and unplug electronics when not in use. For me this is a constant effort because I love light during the winter!
Drive less: Walk, bike, ride share, Carpool, combine errands, and take public transport.
Reduce two-cycle engine pollution: Add more garden and pollinator friendly plants to reduce your lawn mowing, shovel snow by hand, and choose silent sports. Polluting our air is not cool!!
Purchase products made from recycled materials. This saves energy, trees, water and natural resources. Recycled paper products are the easiest to find.
Reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides, especially Neonicotinoids. You, your pets, birds and butterflies will be much healthier.
Reduce or eliminate beef from your diet. Producing beef uses lots of energy!
Recycle all plastics, glass and metal cans, and of course paper. According to TerraCycle 84% of household waste can be recycled
Turn down the thermostat and survey your home for ways it can be more efficient. Schedule an energy audit from your local power company.
Read Labels: Never purchase or use hand wash or cleaning products with Triclosan. There is evidence they are hormone disrupters and they concentrate in our lakes and streams. Change your cleaning products to reduce chemicals in your home. Baking soda and vinegar can clean almost anything! This is a link to make your own products: http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/view-document.html?gid=11368
Finally, work to elect leaders that believe in Climate change.
“Honey Bees, native bees and other pollinators are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat. Bees pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that make up 90% of the world’s food supply. Many fruits and vegetables, including apples, blueberries, strawberries, carrots and broccoli, as well as almonds and coffee, rely on bees. These beneficial insects are critical to maintaining our diverse food supply.
Honey bee populations have been in alarming decline since 2006 Widespread use of a new class of toxic pesticides, neonicotinoids, is a significant contributing factor…..
This week, 15 countries are imposing a two-year restriction on the use of several of these chemicals. Meanwhile, the United States is stalling. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates it will be 2018, 5 years from now, before it makes a decision on this deadly class of pesticides
Bees can’t wait 5 more years–they are dying now. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the power and responsibility to protect our pollinators. Our nation’s food system depends on it.”