Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gardening for Wildlife ~ Pollinators and More

Ron who writes and publishes a wonderful newsletter, Gardening for Wildlife , has graciously given me permission to share this one about our pollinators. 

Fireflies (lightening bugs to some), are at their peak right now.
Living near water (pond, creek, marches) offers good habitat for Fireflies, and this is no exception.
Fireflies can generally be spotted in marshes, woods, grassy areas or places that have water bodies.
You can find fireflies flitting about near ponds, streams, rivers or lakes.
Generally, the female waits for a male with an attractive flash pattern and they mate.
Eggs hatch within a month.
The second stage of the life cycle of a firefly is the larval stage.
To develop into a pupa, fireflies generally eat small insects, snails, slugs, earthworms, dead animals and organic material that is available in fireflies habitat.
The inject a digestive fluid onto their prey, which immobilizes their prey. During the larval stage, they are predatory in nature.
Once larvae enter the pupal stage, they take another couple of weeks to develop into an adult firefly.

So, what do these bugs eat once they develop into adults?
The eating habits of fireflies generally differ from those of the predatory larvae.
Most of the adult fireflies feed on dew droplets, pollen or nectar from flowers, but not the plant itself.
Some of the species are known to eat smaller insects.
The female fireflies are known to eat male fireflies from another species.
The female fireflies actually mimic the flash pattern of to attract the males and create a death trap for the male.
Even in the insect world, males can be seduced by trickery.
There are more than 2,000 species of fireflies around the globe, and many locations (parts of western United States and many parts of Canada) never get to see one.

Thank you everyone for responding and giving me an update on your butterfly situation.
Our informal survey does indeed show that weather plays a huge roll in butterfly populations and much of wildlife.
We don't often think about things until it goes missing or we are knee deep in it.
That seemed to be the case for butterflies as well as all pollinators.
Those of us that have experienced a hot and dry summer last year and now a cooler than normal and much more rain this spring, have little or no butterflies and few bees.
Reports from the Great Lakes Basin and from the Deep South and Gulf region report a poor butterfly season.
These regions have experienced cool temperatures and lots of rain.
Folks in the West and Mid Atlantic region seem to have a good crop of butterflies and enough other pollinators to keep them happy.
From folks like you and me, to the experts, weather has played a major roll in the lack of butterflies this spring and summer.
According to local butterfly expert, Holli Ward of Jenison, MI. "as the season wears on, there will be enough time some some butterflies and moths to rebound".
Since last week, I have seen one, only one other butterfly.
A Black Swallowtail was in my garden for a few short hours.

Not a monarch in sight.
The balance of nature is delicate, God made it that way.
He also made humans to subdue, and be good stewards.
Not to conquer at any cost.
In Honor of All Pollinators,
I give you this little reminder on why we need them.
European Honey Bee

Did you know that one out of every three bites of food you eat depends on pollinators?
Honeybees, bumble bees, and other insects, birds and small mammals pollinate over 90% of the planet's flowering plants and one third of human food crops.
Can you imagine a Halloween without pumpkins?
Thanksgiving without cranberries?
Life without chocolate or coffee?
No fresh peas or green beans.
No apple, peach, cherry pie?
What about other fruits and vegetables.
Strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and so on.
No carrots, lettuce, beets, or cabbage.
Yes, pollinators are required to produces seeds that produce these crops.
Food items we really don't think about giving a pollinator credit for.

What about the hay that feeds our cattle?
What about the cotton used for clothing, bedding and other comfortable uses?
If it weren't for pollinators, we couldn't survive.
Pollinators are the Masters and Johnson of the plant world, the facilitators of reproduction (this is not my line, I'm not smart enough to come up with it).
They assist in the fertilization of many plants by carrying pollen from the anther (male) of one blossom to the stigma (female) of another.
That allows the plants to produce fruiting bodies containing the seeds that eventually become new plants, fruiting bodies that we know as things such as apples, oranges and cucumbers.
Pollinators play a crucial role in feeding us, beautifying our world and enabling the host of other benefits that plants provide.
We can't live without them.

And now, it's time for us to look out for them.
Biologists, ecologists and others who pay attention to the workings of the natural world worry that pollinators are in danger.
Habitat destruction, pesticide use and other human-driven forces are among the potential threats to pollinator populations.
Some cases of pollinators dying off in large numbers have been well-documented — perhaps most notably, the loss of honeybees to the mysterious colony collapse disorder.
There may be an answer or reason (next week's letter).
Scientists don't have the baseline data to show what has happened to most types of pollinators.
Instead, fears about their well-being are based more on evidence, including declines in sightings of some species and the effects on plants.
We do know that we're losing farmland every day and natural land every day.
And that translates into a loss of habitat for pollinators.
Pollinating animals represent about 200,000 species worldwide.

Most are insects, but they also include some birds and even mammals and reptiles.
Bees are the pollinating champs, but in our area butterflies, moths, beetles, flies and birds also contribute significantly.
They visit plants in search of either nectar, a source of carbohydrates, or pollen, which supplies protein.
In the process, they pick up pollen grains — often on hairs — and carry them to the next plant.
Plant a Garden You can help native pollinators, especially bees, by planting a pollinator-friendly garden.
Maximize flower space and plant species diversity.
Provide a succession of blooming plants throughout the growing season, spring through fall.
Provide a mix of flower shapes to accommodate different species.
Emphasize native perennial plants.

Plant host plants to feed caterpillars as well as nectar plants for adult butterflies, you need caterpillars to get the butterflies.
Avoid horticultural plants, such as marigolds and roses, bred as "doubles" that provide little or no pollen and nectar.
Choose non-chemical solutions to insect problems.
Adult Hoverflies pollinate (pictured) and their larvae consume untold amounts of insects.
There are roughly 6,000 species of Hoverfly worldwide.

Avoid using herbicides.
Provide nesting habitat for bees, such as bare ground for digger and sweat bees and wood and dried plant stems for leaf cutter and carpenter bees.
Offer nesting sights for Mason and Orchard bees.
Welcome Hoverflies as well, these flies wont harm you, though some like to mimic bees.
Practice peaceful coexistence.
Bees sometimes choose to nest in inconvenient places (like my shed).
Rather than exterminating them, think of it as an opportunity to see and learn about them up close.
Most bees are non aggressive and will leave you alone, if you leave them alone.

Timing application to avoid flowering periods or diurnal activity periods may reduce the impacts of pesticides to many pollinators.
Some pollinators, such as Normia bees that rest in crop fields overnight, may be harmed by nighttime application of pesticides.
Powders like Sevin Dust are walked through, rubbed on bodies and brought back to a nest or hive, killing great numbers that come in contact with the poison.
Similarly, moths that are active at night may be harmed by nighttime application of pesticides.
Regardless of application time, if toxins remain on plant parts, pollinators such as leafcutter bees still may be harmed if they bring contaminated leaves and food back to their nest .
Likewise, the larvae of butterflies that pollinate plants may be harmed by ingesting toxins remaining on plant parts.
Remember, it is all part of nature, and a few leaf holes are needed if we want to eat.

Well, it is time to fly for now.
Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.
God Bless.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they"?
Matthew 6:26

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,
Ron Patterson

I know this post is longer than normal but his message is so important to me that I had to share it! With all our rain I also have seen very few butterflies and bees. However the frog population is up! Like Ron says Nature has a way of balancing things. 

If you liked then I encourage you to sign-up for Ron's weekly newsletters. I have been getting them for several years. Ron has taught me so much. Sign-up is listed on the column to the left HERE

What are you seeing in your yard/garden?

Wishing Peace, Love, Health, and ALL!



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