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.

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Now’s the time to see butterflies – and what’s better than a ‘puddle party’

Now’s the time to see butterflies – and what’s better than a ‘puddle party’

I was up camping in the San Bernardino Mountains this weekend and one joy was coming across a muddling area, next to the stream my friend Christine and I were camping near. It was lush with butterflies — also called a puddle party. For those who don’t know, a muddle is a mud puddle, or in this case it looked more like a couple circular areas of moist, fine gravel that were several feet across. I sat for about 45 minutes and enjoyed the parade of butterflies as they gathered nutrients the muddle provided, and buzzed each other. Butterflies weren’t the only ones. Various insects and bees alighted too, and the butterflies occasionally harassed a train of harvester ants, making them pick up their pace. (See photos below)

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Butterflies: Plants to attract them, and concerns

Butterflies: Plants to attract them, and concerns

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…]

Bugs! and Other Photos from Our Yard

Bugs! and Other Photos from Our Yard

Our yard is alive with wildlife this spring, so thought I would post some photos of the critters and a few native plants they’re especially attracted to. The insects attract a host of larger insects and in the chain of life, they in turn attract a rich bird and lizard population that feeds on them all. The last photo I took was of a Cooper’s hawk hoping to feed on one of those birds. [Read more…]

Native Bees and Other Wildlife Find Our Home

Native Bees and Other Wildlife Find Our Home

What a joy this spring to walk around our yard here in Southern California – a former lawn now full of native and other wildlife-attracting plants. The native bees have arrived in higher numbers, challenging the busy honeybees on our blooming ceanothus and lavender. Our resident Anna’s hummingbird seemed to survive the cold spell this winter and is perching on his usual tree branch  [Read more…]

Go Organic — and plant milkweed — to Save Monarchs

Go Organic — and plant milkweed — to Save Monarchs

An article on page three of today’s Los Angeles Times talked about declining monarch butterfly numbers in Mexico where it winters. But here is an important takeaway that was buried a bit in the article: the use of  genetically modified crops (GMOs)  in the midwest where the monarch breeds contains Roundup (glyphosphate) that is killing the monarch’s vial food source — the milkweed plant . [Read more…]

Our Vital Pollinators: Birds, Bats, Bees and Butterflies

Our Vital Pollinators: Birds, Bats, Bees and Butterflies

Pollinators – birds, bats, bees and butterflies – are critical. They pollinate over 200,000 of the world’s flowering plants, including 80% of our food plants.  The genetic material they transfer allows seeds to form, which continue the species.

Kurt Leushner, a popular professor at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, highlighted our local pollinators at a recent horticulture meeting.

Below are some of his highlights [Read more…]