Tagged with "Pollinators"
July 23, 2019
On Beyond Milkweed
Now that everyone LOVES milkweed, what’s next? Milkweed only serves one insect, the Monarch Butterfly. You can do more! How about adding some other historically “weedy” native wildflowers to your garden and expand the pollinator banquet? How about Thistles? They provide pollen, nectar, leaves and seeds for hundreds of insect and bird species. They are beautiful and structural, and seriously deer proof! There are some invasive ones and massive eradication programs have pretty much wiped out the good with the bad, so...
Do your bit for the good ones, get to know your thistle.
If the answer to ALL these questions is NO, you probably have a native, let it be!
Is the thistle spiny along the entire length of the stem?
Are the bracts (the bulbous part below the brushy flower) triangular, firm, and spine-tipped?
Are the bracts thick, and leathery, and jagged?
Are the roots rhizomatous (running underground and popping up all over)?
The thistle in the photo inspired this tip. Found it growing in my yard, Goldfinches love the seed. Somewhat common on LI, endangered in Ct. Keep an eye out for some of your own and welcome it to your expanding world of pollinator plants.
Thanks to Lindsay Karr https://weedwise.conservationdistrict.org
Are you mowing your meadow in the fall? Not so fast please, don’t mow, let it go till the spring!
Why? For one thing, it looks much more beautiful than stubble.
Also, there are lots of ecosystem benefits:
Seed heads have time to develop and disperse
Habitat and food is provided for wildlife: think crickets, bumblebees, turkeys, American goldfinches, hawks and owls.
Mow in the spring, just before new growth begins, 8-12” high (habitat retained for solitary bees) and, best if you can rake off the cuttings.
July Comet! Marsh Imp! Twilight Bush Baby! There are at least 170 different species of fireflies in the US, and they have great names.
Did you know that different species of fireflies have their own flash patterns?
Did you know that firefly larvae live in the ground and are voracious predators to slugs, snails and aphids – providing natural pest control.
Remember poking holes in jar lids and hunting for fireflies in a field swarming with them? Since 2010, scientists have been observing a steady decline of firefly populations and believe it is cased by habitat loss, light pollution from cities and vehicles, and of course, pesticide use.
How to help our flashy friends, and restore the population on your property? Provide habitat, like leave mulch, and a water source, like a bird bath. Turn your unnecessary lights off at night, and kick the toxic pesticide habit. Don't Spray.
How you can help save these species, and your own.
Here's the real buzz, we need native bees in order to survive as a species.
There are 4,000 native bee species in the United States and they are responsible for 80% of the pollination of flowering plants and for 75% of fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in this country. Here's more buzz, most are stingless and no one has ever had an allergic reaction to a native bee sting.
What can YOU do to help save native bees?
- Do not use chemicals in your yard and garden.
- Plant native flowers that bloom early in the spring like bloodroot, wild geranium, shadbush and spicebush when bees are foraging for nectar. Dandelions are another favorite of native, pollinating bees.
- Leave your biomass: turn a fallen tree into a log wall. Leave hollow reeds in an unused corner of the yard. These make great nesting spots for native bees.
- Do not buy plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids.
- Ask your local garden supply stores to stop stocking products that contain them.
Pre-emergent are herbicides designed to kill weed seeds BEFORE they sprout. They are usually granular and are applied to lawns and flower beds in the spring, but they persist for three months – that means prolonged time for human exposure.
Below we have gathered important information about some typical active ingredients and their effects:
Prodiamine – carcinogen, neurotoxicity
Pendimethalin – extremely toxic to fish and aquatic organisms
Isoxaben – possible carcinogen, kidney/liver damage, toxic to birds
Oxyfluorfen – possible carcinogen, reproductive, birth and development effects, kidney/liver damage, skin irritant, toxic to fish and aquatic organisms
Oryzalin – kidney/liver damage, skin irritant, birth and developmental effects, toxic to fish and aquatic organisms
Trifluralin – extremely toxic to fish and aquatic organisms
Also, since the active ingredient is usually only 1% ... what are the 99% "other ingredients" ? They are often a blend of equally toxic ingredients that amplify the deadly effectiveness, which means they are even more toxic for you too.
Safe alternative? Although corn-gluten is often recommended as an organic pre-emergent for lawns, it is expensive, and timing is too critical to be effective, so we don’t recommend it. The PRFCT nature-based approach to weed control is to outcompete weeds in lawns. Overseed lawns in the fall or early spring before weeds germinate. In shrub and flower beds plant many small plants close together, leaving little to no space or sun for weeds. More plants is always a better option for filling space than bark mulches from far away.