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…]

A Potpourri Post: Lizard Update, Beetles and Frustrating Grasses

A Potpourri Post: Lizard Update, Beetles and Frustrating Grasses

With summer in full force in our yard, there’s a variety of subjects on my mind, including missing lizards, mating beetles and even something for plant lovers – so I thought I would provide an update on previous subjects I’ve written about. [Read more…]

Snakes!

Snakes!

An article I wrote about rats, snakes and bees appeared today in our local paper. Since I gave an update about rat poison and wildlife last month, let’s talk snakes. I like snakes. I know I’m unusual in this, perhaps because I didn’t have brothers that terrorized me with them (real or not), and maybe living in the Chicago suburbs, where we didn’t have a lot of snakes, had something to do with it.

My husband also likes them so when we encounter them it’s a positive thing. My previous articles on snakes have mostly focused on relocating rattlesnakes, something we did quite often at our San Diego County property.  [Read more…]

Continuing Rat Poison Concerns (and Update)

Continuing Rat Poison Concerns (and Update)

We’ve encountered two dead mature rats in our yard the last month. Neither had marks, indicating they were not killed by a critter or injury. So we conjecture they succumbed to rat poison put out by neighbors or more likely, the pest companies they have employed. I’ve written a series on the rodent issues, including problems with secondary poisoning (see Our Ailing Wildlife) but it seems a reminder is warranted. [Read more…]

Favorite Native Plants For Summer Heat

Favorite Native Plants For Summer Heat

Like most California residents, we’ve been watering less, despite the heat and drier soil from little rainfall this year. Here’s a list of what looks best in our Southern California yard this summer. Many of the following are California natives or their hybrids, and since most nurseries don’t carry them, I’ll include where you can purchase them in Southern California. [Read more…]

Great Hikes (and Camping): Wind Wolves Preserve

Great Hikes (and Camping): Wind Wolves Preserve

If you’re looking for a place in the southern half of California to hike or camp that features few people, running streams and waterfalls, and a wild land full of wildlife, head to Wind Wolves Preserve. As word gets out this place it won’t feel so remote very long.

Set aside by Wildlands Conservancy in 1996, photos from our recent June trip best illustrate its specialness. [Read more…]