Searching For More Diversity

This is a week to appreciate and celebrate our pollinators. In my yard there are many baby monarch caterpillars eating on milkweed, and eggs of the painted lady butterfly on pearly everlasting and pussy toes. A dragon fly has been following me around as I work, and the hummingbirds stop to check things out.  It is a beautiful exciting time!  Get outside and enjoy.

Monarch Caterpillars

Our insects and pollinators have been in serious decline the past few years. This is a week is to heighten our awareness of pollinators. Make an effort to spot some butterflies, bees, dragon flies, or maybe a hummingbird.

Create a yard pollinators want to visit.

Unfortunately, we have become a mono-culture world of asphalt, concrete, turf grass and hostas. Maybe you live in corn and soy bean country, more mono-cultures. Most of us can make changes to our environment to help pollinators. Maybe just place a pot of flowers on your deck, something that bees and butterflies like, or maybe replace a hosta with a wild geranium or native violets, maybe stop using chemicals on your lawn and turn it into a clover yard, or plant some bee balm, milkweed, coneflowers or sunflowers.

A new extensive UN study says we are on track to loose over a million spieces in the next few decades.  Pesticides are a problem for bees and insects, but the study says the lack of plant diversity is also a big problem. Our farmers plant too much corn and soybeans, and yards have too much turf grass and too many hostas!

Each one of us can make a difference, think diversity in your yard! How can you brighten your yard and make it more attractive to pollinators?

Find ideas from the Xerces Society or native plants from Audubon for your area here.

The urban and rural gardener all have an important part to play in the health of our pollinators. Diversity is important. Keep it simple to start,  native plants are  easy to grow, but don’t forget native trees, especially oaks, are excellent at adding diversity. Last, but most important, purchase plants from serious nurseries, and ask to make sure plants haven’t been treated with neonicotinoids.

“Nature needs to be appreciated for itself and viewed as natures health dictates our human health. Without healthy water, land and soil and wildlife we will not survive as human beings. We must set aside of land, and water bodies and protect them from development. We must be aggressive protecting our land water and wildlife.” Ecowatch,  read more here.

Neonicotinoids and Bees

Hopeful Stories

No straw, please!

I love the following stories of businesses, people, and governments doing the right thing for our Earth. These stories give me hope, and I hope they inspire you, too. Click on the links to read more of the articles.

** California will require solar on all new homes!

** Fabulous news on the plastic pollution front:

      * The Chicago White Socks baseball team ban straws!

     * The United Kingdom becomes the first country to ban straws, and wet-wipes

      * The island of Vanuatu bans plastic

** James Shaw Jr. stopped the gunman, and then raised funds for the victims!

**Michael Bloomberg, donates 4.5 million for the Paris Climate Agreement!

** Some really good business news…. General Mills is growing crops for their organic products that are organic, help the soil, and don’t harm water,  regenerative agriculture.

 

** And more good agricultural news, the European Union has banned neonicotinoids which are so harmful to our bees and butterflies!

Hope for wildlife

Regenerative Agriculture. Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services

 

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

Pollinator Garden Walk

My back yard: Cone flowers, butterfly weed
My back yard: Cone flowers, flox, and butterfly weed

This past week my yard was part of a “Pollinator Garden Walk” led by my neighbor, a pollinator expert. We walked, biked, or carpooled to 4 neighborhood yards. All the yards had boulevard plantings, two had no turf grass,, and three yards had rain gardens. We observed lots of bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and caterpillars.
Below are the ideas to attract pollinators suggested by the pollinator expert:
* Choose native and single-flowered plant varieties
* Go organic, eliminate pesticide and herbicides64px-Eyed_Brown,_dorsal
* Leave areas of bare ground or loose leaf litter
* Plant milkweed
*Install a bee nesting house for mason bees and other stem-nesting bees

Cardinal flowers are happy this year with lots of rain!
Cardinal flowers are happy this year with lots of rain!

 

I would add: Plant with diversity of flowers, bloom times, and colors.

Never use plants treated with neonicotinoids! Ask before purchase of plants.

 

 

https://health4earth.com/add-fun-pollinators-to-your-yard/

Where Have All the Pollinators Gone?

Plant your yard with plants the bees, butterflies and birds love
Plant your yard with plants the bees, butterflies and birds love

Each of us is so unaware of the damage we are doing to our earth.  This week I was at a seminar on pollinators.  Minnesota has lost two of its native butterflies, the Dakota Skipper and Poweshiek Skippering.  and many more bees and butterflies are declining in numbers. Also, I was surprised so many people don’t know about neonicotinoids.  Neonicotinoids are harmful systemic pesticides that weaken pollinators

Round up kills the plants bees and butterflies love!
Round up kills the plants that bees and butterflies need for food and egg laying !

Why is there is so much buzz about bees during the winter?  The United Nations announced that we are loosing many of our important pollinators that are vital to the pollination of many important food crops.

What is causing this loss? The major reasons we are loosing species of native butterflies, bees and birds is because of mono-crop planting, habitat loss, and our obsession with pesticides.  The combination of these three is making it hard for pollinators to survive.

Even a small yard can make a difference for pollinators.  First, add more native plants to your yard, they don’t need chemicals.  Plant for different bloom times, diverse flowers, and never purchase a plant treated with neonicotinoids ! Be careful and read directions with any chemicals you use on your yard….Try to go without!  Finally, bees and butterflies love blooming dandelions and clover…Let them bloom, then weed them out!

Below is from http://www.wildones.org/ What are native plants?

  • Native plants are needed as host and nectar plants as our native butterflies, bees and birds go about pollinating our food plants as they forage for their own sustenance.
  • Native plants have deep roots which absorb excess rainfall and prevent water from running directly into our rivers and streams helping to provide clean water for everyone.
  • Native plants instead of turf lawns help reduce our carbon footprint.

A Lot more to read:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/26/decline-of-bees-poses-potential-risks-to-major-crops-says-un

http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2016/02/wild_bees_path_extinction.html

http://ecowatch.com/2016/02/26/save-the-honeybee/

http://www.xerces.org/providing-wildflowers-for-pollinators/

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/26/468241649/report-more-pollinators-species-in-jeopardy-threatening-world-food-supply

http://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/ipm/what-is-a-neonicotinoid/

Why are bees dying at an alarming rate?

Add plants bees love to your yard!
Add plants bees and butterflies love to your yard!

Bees have been a worry to me all summer.  They haven’t been feeding on the plants that are usually loaded with bees. Wild geranium,  Culver’s Root, chives and a flowering maple they usually are passionate about have been lacking bees.

Bees love bee balm and anise hysopp, but this year not so many bees.
Bees love bee balm and  hyssop, but this year not so many bees.

In August with the blooming hyssop, cone flowers and golden rod the bees are here, but not in the typical numbers for this time of year.

We must do better to make sure our yards have flowers pollinators love and avoid all chemicals.  It frightens me that some of the plants we purchase are still laden with heavy chemicals and neonicotinoids. I wonder how all these chemicals are going to affect human health? How is neonicotinoid farm run-off going to affect aquatic life?

A study below by the US Geological Survey finds neonicotinoids in our water ways. Here is the link: http://m.ktvz.com/news/Insecticide-found-in-half-of-sampled-U-S-streams/34779418

MINNEAPOLIS TAKES ACTION TO PROTECT POLLINATORS AS A POLLINATOR-FRIENDLY CITY

The City of Minneapolis urges all Minneapolis property owners, residents, businesses, institutions and neighborhoods to become more pollinator friendly by adopting practices including:

  • Committing to not use pesticides, including insecticides that stay in the plant, on their properties.
  • Avoiding planting flowering plants that are treated with insecticides that stay in the plant.
  • Discontinuing the sale of pesticides and plants that are treated with insecticides that stay in the plant.
  • Planting more pollinator forage on their property and using organic or chemical-free lawn and landscaping practices.

Here is the link: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/news/WCMS1P-147750   Unfortunately, Minnesota has ridiculous preemption laws, and a city can’t make rules stronger than existing state legislation

Morning Earth Healing Images 8.28.2015

Golden rod picture by John Cady
Golden Rod picture by John Cady

 

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.