Tagged with "Pollinators"
June 19-25 is National Pollinator Week. Why all the buzz?
• Bees pollinate 75% of the fruit, nuts, and vegetables grown in the United States.
• Native bees are responsible for pollinating many plants endemic to the Americas, including tomatoes and eggplant.
• Over 4,000 species of bees are native to the United States. Honeybees are not—they were brought to the Americas by European settlers.
Is your yard pollinator friendly? Here’s how it can be:
• Do not apply broadcast sprays for mosquitos and ticks, especially synthetic products. Broadcast sprays kill all insects, not just pests. Even organic sprays can be toxic to bees and butterflies.
• If you plan on having an event or are especially concerned about ticks or mosquitos, apply a plant-based essential oil-based spray using a pressurized pump sprayer with a long arm that can get into small spaces. Only spray in early morning or evening when pollinators are less active.
• Plant native plants to support native insect populations. Many insects are dependent on specific plants for shelter and food (think monarchs and milkweed), and many native crops (think tomatoes and eggplants) are dependent on native insects for pollination.
• Plant host plants, not just flowers. Before you can have a garden full of butterflies, you need to provide a food source for their caterpillars. Keep in mind that these plants will get munched, but you might not even notice the damage.
• Pollinators get dehydrated, so provide a water source for your bees and butterflies. To prevent your bug bath from becoming a mosquito breeding ground, change the water frequently.
Photo credit: Indra Widi / EyeEm / Getty Images
Bats get a bad rap, especially this time of year. Instead of screaming the next time you see one, consider the following:
- Every night, an insect-eating bat will eat its own weight in bugs. A whole colony? Hundreds of pounds of bugs a night. More bats = fewer mosquitos in your yard, fewer pests in your garden, fewer pesticides sprayed.
- Bats eat more than bugs. Around the world, fruit- and pollen-munching bats are important pollinators and seed dispersers.
- Installing a bat house (see photo above) is a great way to encourage these furry flying friends to take up residence on your property.
- Using pesticides is not. Pesticides, especially insect sprays, limit the amount of bugs and other healthy food for bats to eat. Pesticides also build up in bats' little bodies over time, which has been linked to immunosuppression and endocrine disruption.
Plants sprout from seeds, bulbs, rhizomes, and more, but weeds always originate in the same place: our minds. A weed is simply a plant you've been taught to view as undesirable.
Who taught you? Mostly chemical companies marketing products to keep "weeds" under control. For example, milkweed was long considered unattractive—now we view it as a vital tool to saving the monarch butterfly population.
Times change. Perceptions change. Fashions change: We once thought shoulder pads were a must-have accessory. Isn't it time to rethink our landscaping must-haves? Clover, anyone?
So, you are leaving your clippings for 80% of your lawn’s nutrient needs. What is free and easy to add to that? If you’re lucky, the PRFCT ingredient is already growing right beneath your toes.
Clover is a nitrogen fixer—it pulls nitrogen from the air and releases it back into the soil when mowed. Those nitrogen-fixing roots run deep, keeping clover green even in hot, dry months. Your grass will love the nitrogen boost every time you mow, and the environment will love you for not adding more fertilizer.
Worried about bees? It's true that bees (and butterflies!) love clover flowers, but they are not aggressive away from their hives. Bees feasting on clover flowers should not sting unless stepped on directly. You can prevent stings by avoiding large clover patches, wearing shoes when on a flowering clover lawn, and mowing as soon as the flowers open. The cut flowers are also nitrogen-packed, so be sure to leave them along with the rest of your clippings.
This spring has been a bumper year for dandelions on the East End. Before you mow them down or grab your spade to uproot them, did you know…?
• Dandelion flowers are an important source of pollen during the spring months when bees and butterflies emerge from hibernation and few other flowers are available.
• Dandelions are natural aerators. Their roots push through compacted soil and leave mineral-rich organic material behind when they die.
• Dandelions indicate a lack of calcium in the soil. Their tap roots can pull calcium and other minerals from deep in the soil, making dandelion leaves a healthy addition to your lawn and your diet.
• The best way to prevent dandelions from popping up in your lawn is to mow high (3.5-4") and reseed bare patches in the fall. Tall, thick grass leaves little room for sun-loving dandelions to take root. If dandelions keep sprouting, the safest way to remove them is by hand. Water the area to loosen the soil and use a dandelion digger or flathead screwdriver to remove the plant’s long taproot. Pulling dandelions before they go to seed will help prevent them from spreading in your landscape
• Dandelion puffs are a blast! Have you ever met a child who didn't agree? They’re also one of the few food sources available to pollinators in early spring. If bees and butterflies love them, why can’t we?