Butterfly Update! Including Monarchs from our Yard and Mexico butterfly photos

Butterfly Update! Including Monarchs from our Yard and Mexico butterfly photos

Here in Southern California in January, despite some temps dipping into the 20s, I’m still seeing monarch butterflies in our yard, helped by some of our milkweed that manages to stay alive. I posted an article in October about how our tropical milkweed finally attracted monarch caterpillars. I’m happy to report it continues to birth dozens of caterpillars and even some adults.

Outside, these caterpillars are making it on their own themselves.

These caterpillars are making it on their own in January.

Here are some photos from our yard, plus a few butterfly photos from a recent trip to Baja Mexico, along with a few things we’ve learned. [Read more…]

Weeds for Butterflies and More on our Native Pollinators

Weeds for Butterflies and More on our Native Pollinators

This is a follow-up to my post on Attracting Butterflies and Pollinators to our Yards – more takeaways from San Diego area speakers Moe Magoski and Michael Klein, plus photos of pollinators, important butterfly plants we might consider weeds, and some resources. [Read more…]

Attracting Pollinators and Butterflies to our Yards

Attracting Pollinators and Butterflies to our Yards

Who doesn’t want more butterflies in their yards? You need nectar plants of course. But if you want to watch all the butterfly stages — which means your plant’s leaves will get eaten by the growing caterpillars — you need to include specific host plants, such as milkweed for monarchs, or thistle or mallow for Painted Ladies.

But you also need to watch your use of pesticides. Oh, and keep some weeds around.

These were among the important takeaways of the forum “Where have all the Butterflies and Bees Gone? How to Protect our Butterflies and Pollinators,” [Read more…]

Milkweed and Monarchs – Finally!

Milkweed and Monarchs – Finally!

Note: See comments below for discussion on native vs tropical milkweeds

We planted a couple milkweed (Asclepius curassavica or tropical) plants three years ago. But – no monarchs or caterpillars. The last six months the milkweed thrived and climbed seven feet up into our magnolia tree, and also spread via seed. Now we have a couple dozen plants out front.

I counted 8, only to check the next day and they were all gone. After all, they look like they were in their 5th instar.

After seeing this guy, I counted 8, only to check the next day and there were none After all, they look like they were in their 5th instar.

One week ago, after a short trip away, I was watering and noticed a huge caterpillar (see right) and then saw more. Yea – finally!

[Read more…]

The Consequences of Pesticides in Citrus Pest Treatment – and references

The Consequences of Pesticides in Citrus Pest Treatment – and references

An op-ed article I wrote for the Redlands Daily Facts, entitled “Understanding the Consequences of Asian Psyllid Treatment,” is being published tomorrow. It was prompted when I noted that articles were not mentioning the negative effects of the recommended pesticide treatments for an alarming pest that is attacking citrus trees. Some important background first: our area is resuming treatments for the Asian Citrus Psyllid, the bug responsible for devastating Florida citrus, which has made its way to Southern California. Most commercial groves have been treated. Now residents have the option to have their backyard citrus trees treated. Many of these points apply these common pesticides being used of other uses also.

Here are my main points after doing research on this subject, plus references are listed below: [Read more…]

Why Native Plants?  Attracting birds is another important reason

Why Native Plants? Attracting birds is another important reason

I’ve written a number of articles on how native plants usher in wildlife.  I read an interesting article, “Grow Native Plants” in The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Spring 2014 Living Bird Magazine, which gives a simple recipe for attracting warblers, the well-loved but evasive group of songbirds. Plant native plants. [Read more…]

Pollinator killing plants: questions to ask nurseries

Pollinator killing plants: questions to ask nurseries

I’ve been besieged with a lot of email petitions recently about  a pesticide called neonicotinoids (neonics for short), found in some plants sold by nurseries, which has been shown to kill bees, butterflies and other pollinators – so the word is definitely out. When pollinators visit the flowers or caterpillars eat the leaves of the pre-treated plant, they die. There’s a concern to humans too, as herbs also are being sprayed (see example below).  So what can we do? I received info from the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) in Seattle WA, regarding questions people should ask their nurseries.

[Read more…]