Many homeowners and landscapers don’t realize the futility of just planting exotic nectar plants to support butterflies. Caterpillars of butterflies have evolved with specific host plants on which they depend. Some caterpillars use a very limited number of native host plants, some have the ability to use a wider range of plants. Caterpillars typically eat a small portion of the host plant’s leaves. It’s an important food web relationship in our ecosystems. No host plants mean no adult butterflies.
Monarch butterflies are often used as an example of this relationship,…
Prior to the year 1900 the American Chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) was the predominant tree in Eastern forests. It is estimated that there were almost 4 billion American Chestnut trees in the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century, accounting for 1 in every 4 trees in Eastern hardwood forests.
American Chestnut was a “keystone species” playing a critical role in the function of its overall ecosystem – you take a keystone species away, and the entire ecosystem around it is dramatically impacted….
I recently heard the celebrity Bill Maher doing a radio interview during which he confessed to having been an avid butterfly collector when he was a child. He seems quite regretful now, having killed so many butterflies and displaying them on the walls of his childhood home, with his father’s help and encouragement! Maher is now a committed environmentalist.
I cringed when I heard Maher’s confession of butterfly poaching, but I then remembered the days when I was young and butterflies were a common sight during summer. …
You may have heard about the recent bumble bee massacre in Oregon, which killed an estimated 25,000 – 50,000 bees. Shoppers at a Target store in Willsonville, Oregon found thousands of dead bumble bees in the parking lot. The likely culprit? A landscaping company which had sprayed the neonicotinoid pesticide “Safari “ on dozens of Linden trees in an attempt to control aphids.
The Xerces Society investigated the incident and stated that this is “the largest mass poisoning of bumble bees ever documented.” They also noted that bees die all the time in agricultural fields “where nobody sees it happen.” How ironic that it took an urban parking lot,…
I recently had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Doug Tallamy speak again. For those of you who have not yet read his book, “Bringing Nature Home,” I encourage you to rev up your Amazon account or drive to a bookstore (remember those?) and buy his book today. Tallamy is an entomologist, specializing in lepidoptera (butterflies, skippers + moths), and has made the compelling case for a number of years that native critters (fauna) are dependent on native plant (flora).
If you have been reading this blog,…
A version of this post was just published in the magazine, Westchester Home. Read below, or follow this link to the published version: http://www.westchestermagazine.com/Westchester-Magazine/Westchester-Home/Summer-2013/How-to-Grow-a-Garden-that-Fosters-Bee-Activity-and-Pollination/
Please share this post with family and friends. Knowledge is power! If we all garden this way, we can help bees in crisis.
The European honey bee and many of our 4,000 species of native bees in the U.S. have suffered dramatic losses to their populations due to a combination of many factors. …
Autumn Thomas had the final winning entry to the EcoBeneficial t-shirt contest:
“I’m going to go with Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) even though it’s a tad aggressive, I see hundreds of bees, beetles and lepidoptera (butterflies, skippers and moths) on it every year. Then, after it goes to seed flocks of goldfinches arrive!”
Wondering if Cutleaf Coneflower would be a good fit in your landscape? Take a look:
Zones: 3 to 9
Native range: Quebec to Montana, south to Florida and Arizona
Member of the Aster family (Asteraceae)….
As we remember our fallen troops this Memorial Day, let’s also pay tribute to Rachel Carson, born on May 27, 1907, a famous conservationist credited with starting the modern day environmental movement.
After studying at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and receiving a Masters in zoology from Johns Hopkins University, Carson started her career as a marine biologist. She became increasingly concerned about the use of synthetic pesticides after World War II and changed her focus to become an environmentalist….
Our fourth winning entry to the “What’s Your Favorite Native Plant?” contest comes from Missy Isaacs:
My favorite native plant is: “ Sourwood tree. Beautiful fall color, blooms in the summer, my honeybees love the pollen, and the blooms remind me of my handicapped cousin’s hands, she has the most delicate and graceful hands but because of her cp, they are clinched tightly when she is awake. When she is relaxed, her hands release and she has the sweetest hands ever and the sourwood’s bloom remind me of her sweet little hands.”
Oxydendron arboreum is known as Sourwood or Sorrel Tree and is an ericaceous plant,…