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.
I did a presentation on GMOs for our local AAUW discussion group and thought ‘why waste all that reading’ – so here’s a quick overview of what I learned. I read the following books: Mendel in the Kitchen by geneticist Nina Federoff, which was ranked more anti-GMO in this helpful article by Nathanael Johnson on grist.org, and Food Inc. (2003) by journalist Peter Pringle, which was more pro-GMO. I also read [Read more...]
We have an early spring this February with our warm Southern California weather. I’ve been keeping track of what our resident hummingbird – the Anna’s Hummingbird – is taking nectar from in our reconverted lawn, now mostly California natives. The insect life is also rich – which in turn attracts the hummingbirds and other winged life. Seems photos will speak best, so here are a few from the last couple months. [Read more...]
It’s nearing October and I’m still seeing some butterflies around – a few Western Tiger Swallowtails although they’re much fewer, some Cabbage Whites and a variety of those little orange ones that I’ve given up identifying. I checked in with a couple butterfly aficionados on what plants were ushering in the butterflies during the late summer months. [Read more...]
Sure, they lower water bills and usher in more wildlife, but I admit it’s much easier to entice folks with the benefits of native plants in spring when the sages (salvias), wild lilacs (ceanothus) and many others are in full bloom. It’s a tougher argument in the hot summer through fall months when most native plants enter their dormant, survival mode.
However, with proper plant selection, you can have a colorful yard with natives during the hot months, at the same time providing important food sources to wildlife. Antonio Sanchez, production manager at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden [Read more...]
E.B. White’s Charlotte Web was my favorite childhood book, and I’ve loved spiders and pigs ever since. Luckily my husband also shares my passion for our non-human creatures. When summer comes, this means we get to roam our property at night with flashlights and especially watch the female orb weaver spiders – Charlotte was an orb spider – spin their webs and over the weeks, grow larger before laying eggs in the fall. [Read more...]