The Wildlife Value of a Messy Garden

It’s that time of year when leaves are falling, plants are dying back and temperatures are dropping. The days are getting shorter, and we’re seeing fewer bees and butterflies flitting through the yard. You might think your yard has done its job for the season so it’s time to cut it back. You couldn’t be more wrong!! Seed heads, piles of leaves and bark and standing stems, provide forage and over wintering habitat for numberous birds and insects. For more information, check out this great article on fall gardens, here! If you’d like a handout to take to work, pass out to neighbors or hang on your refrigerator, check out this Messy Garden Fact Sheet we made for outreach events!

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NEW!! North Carolina Pollinator Toolkit Available!

Have you ever wondered how to plant pollinator habitat? Have you ever wondered what plant species to buy? Have you ever wondered about garden upkeep? Look no further! We have the answers to those questions and so much more! In collaboration with the NC Pollinator Conservation Alliance, the NC Botanical Garden has published a Pollinator Toolkit to answer any and all questions about pollinator habitat! Check it out here!

Photo courtesy of Debbie Roos
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Return of Long-lost Bees Creating a lot of Presidio Buzz

If you work for any type of natural resource organization, you’ll often hear the words, *If you build it, they will come*. These words rang true to form for the Presidio Trust in San Francisco last week. It is “the latest example of how the removal of invasive plants and the restoration of dunes and grasses at the former military base have helped bring back lost species that thrived for tens of thousands of years in the coastal habitat”. Silver digger bees, once common in this area, were rarely seen until last week. They pollinate numerous native plants. The females have long back legs for digging burrows in the sand, 20 to 30 inches deep. To read more about this exciting project, click here!

Photo courtesy of Constanza Hevia H.
Photo courtesy of Constanza Hevia H.
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Foreign Bees Monopolize Prize Resources in Biodiversity Hotspot

Have you ever wondered how native bees interact with non-native honey bees? Or if they interact at all? A recent study in San Diego County, a known biodiversity hotspot, found that honey bees make up 75% of the region’s observed pollinators. In addition, they focus their foraging efforts on the most abundantly flowering native plant species: “Their numerical dominance is even higher on the plant species that supply the largest amounts of pollen and nectar…this finding suggests that honey bees are disproportionately removing resources from the plant species that likely support the greatest diversity and abundance of native pollinator species.” An additional component of the study indicated that the repeated and increased visits to certain plant species may be causing damage to the actual flowers. Click here to get more details and information pertaining to this important work.

Photo courtesy of James Hung
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Bees Lead Researchers to Trailblazing Ecological Partnerships with Texas City

Researchers from Auburn University went to a small Texas town to study bee populations. They found much more diversity than expected. They also discovered three plants that seemed to be primary food sources for these bees. This led to the creation of a biodiversity ordinance that will protect these particular plants from disturbance or removal. Violation of this ordinance is considered a misdemeanor offense and will carry a penalty of $2,000 per occurrence. Natural resource and conservation organizations in North Carolina work with local governments to incorporate wildlife-friendly practices into their ordinances. We need to bring biodiversity ordinances to North Carolina – what a great idea! Click here to read the full article.

Photo courtesy of Laneige Conde
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The 2019 Monarch Conservation Webinar Series

The Monarch Joint Venture is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center to present a year of informative and interesting webinars about monarch butterflies. Topics include, “How to Plant for Success: the Trials and Triumphs of Establishing Monarch Habitat”, “Urban Monarch Butterfly Conservation”, “Lessons from Roadside Management for Monarchs” and much more! These webinars are free – click here to find the registration link and full list of webinars for 2019.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Caldwell
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Flowers Can Hear Buzzing Bees, and It Makes Their Nectar Sweeter

When you read this title, it almost sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. How can flowers hear anything? And if they do hear, how does that make them capable of producing sweeter nectar? A Tel Aviv University researcher found that in at least one case, plants can actually ‘hear’, and it gives them a huge advantage. Within minutes of sensing vibrations from a pollinator’s wings, evening primroses temporarily increase the concentration of sugar in its nectar. “We have to take into account that flowers have evolved with pollinators for a very long time…they are living entities, and they, too, need to survive in the world. It’s important for them to be able to sense their environment – especially if they cannot go anywhere”. To read more about this fascinating study, click here!

Photo courtesy of wwamby
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Park Pulse: Parks Can Play a Vital Role in Saving Pollinators

Every month, the National Recreation and Park Association polls Americans on any and everything related to park and recreation issues. In this month’s poll, there were two questions: 1. Should communities have designated areas for plants that support pollinator species? and 2. What actions can be taken to help conserve pollinators? Click here to find the answers! This survey was conducted by Wakefield Research; 1,002 individuals, age 18+, were polled.

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Insects are Disappearing from Science Textbooks

Do you remember learning about insects when you were in school? Or if you’re in school currently, are there multiple chapters devoted to insects in your science textbook? Insects outnumber most other species beyond measure, yet new research has revealed that they’re not represented nearly enough in today’s classroom. A recent study in the scientific journal, American Entomologist, found that insects are vastly underrepresented, leading to misconceptions about animal diversity. Furthermore, research found that insect content in textbooks decreased by more than 75% in recent textbooks (published since 2000) compared to books published before 1960. To read more about this, and find the link to American Entomologist, click here.

Photo Courtesy of Sergey Nivens

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The Insect Apocalypse Is Here

Just published in the New York Times, this article details the dramatic decline of insect populations in recent history.  Have you ever heard of the ‘windshield phenomenon’?  If you’re old enough, think back twenty, thirty, forty years:  you’re driving down the road and so many insects are piling up on your windshield that you can barely see.  Have you noticed that now?  Most people are shaking their heads, ‘no’.  There is a noticeable absence of solid data from the past to establish a baseline, but scientists and nature enthusiasts alike are noticing the stark drop in insect numbers.  Click here to read the article and learn more about what is happening as well as what can still be done to prevent a total extinction event.

Photo illustration courtesy of Matt Dorfman

Photo illustration courtesy of Matt Dorfman

 

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