One of my favorite things is the bumble bee and here is her story.
On April 14, I was walking through the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, USA, and thought I saw a Bombus affinis. This bumble bee is in decline. Even though the bumble could be located in Wisconsin, Washburn County is not its home. You can imagine how excited I became when I saw what I thought was the rusty patch bumble bee. I went scrambling into my purse for the iPhone and took some photos while the bumble bee flew happily from one dandelion flower to another gathering pollen.
On April 25, I emailed Jennifer Hopwood, Midwest Pollinator Outreach Coordinator at Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. She identified my bumble as Bombus ternarius. According to Jennifer, this species has orange rusty hair bands on the 2nd and 3rd segments, and then another yellow band on the 4th segment. This bee is the cousin of the rusty-patched bumble bee.
Jennifer says, “The rusty patch bumblebee has yellow hairs on the first segment, and then a rusty patch in the middle of the second segment, with yellow hairs on either side of the orange patch. She suggested that it was likely a queen bumble bee and that she will go on to produce 100+ bumble bees this year. I hope many of the queen’s offsprings will make their home this summer at the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden.
Let’s do all we can to plant nectar sources for the pollinators. Let me know your bumble bee stories.
Be happy Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.
On May 14, St. Francis Mission school bus driven by Elmer Corbine pulled into downtown Shell Lake. Sister Maryrose accompanied the Kindergarten through 4th Grade students along with teacher aides Sarah Sisco and Laura Hoeft. The bus ventured down the road to the school bus garage on Industrial Drive to park. An average of 35 students jumped off the bus to romp in the woods and the south Monarch Butterfly Habitat. This was a good choice seeing as the children had been on a bus for over an hour. Now they could run and stretch their legs. All along the way the youngsters paid attention as plants were pointed out and uses were explained. They learned that there are two kinds of horsetail and that the plant is used to scrub pots and pans after cooking outside on a fire. Then there was yarrow called squirrel’s tail. The kids got a kick out of seeing how the leaves resembled a wagging tail. They especially liked learning about pussy toes which are soft as a kitten’s foot. Some saw a small butterfly that flitted so fast we were not able to identify it.
The sounds of wind in quaking aspen and spring peepers serenaded us. We named plants in Ojibwe, English and Spanish when we knew the translation. It was a cross cultural learning experience.
Then we boarded the bus once again and headed to the north Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. I couldn’t help but notice that the children enjoyed the large boulder in area three.
They walked the path in twos respectfully in order not to trample on emerging plants. They especially enjoyed sitting on the memory benches scattered about and having a short rest in the pergola. Afterwards we headed to the Lion’s outdoor shelter for a picnic and play time at the beach and playground. A healthy veggie and fruit snack and fresh apple juice was made possible by a grant from Washburn County AODA Commission.
Join us in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, on May 15 for a bicycle ride around Shell Lake. It is a 10 mile ride. You can participate in the race or take a more leasurely ride with leader Deb Nebel. Meet at Vitality Village at 246 Industrial Drive at 10 a.m. to register. Fee $5.00. Ride begins at 10:30 a.m. Vitality Village staff and Happy Tonics officers will offer refreshments at the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden at about 11 a.m. The habitat is located two blocks north of downtown.
The fundraiser for the Butterfly Garden is being sponsored by Vitality Village and the Potter’s Shed.
Organized by Deb Nebel, Owner of Vitality Village.
Please join us in our efforts to unify en masse to help our precious waters through prayer and ceremony. Let us know how you would like to help. No matter how small of a circle or community, any effort will make a difference when we all work together! The Circles of Empowerment will be actively participating in this event. We are tasked with developing ceremonies in all of our Central Coast Communities. So if you would like to represent your community’s beach, lake, creek … gather together your circles for a prayer ceremony on the shore. Our goal is to have as many Blessing Ceremonies [Nibi Wabo] as possible in our area from Cambria to Santa Barbara.
Join us. Gather a vessel of water in a sacred place in your home and pray with it, put crystals in it, give it good intentions. Bring it to the ceremony and we will marry all our waters and pour it into the Grandmother Ocean! Feel free to contact Grandmother T. Water Sister Tonya on representing your area at firstname.lastname@example.org
Time and Place:
We will be gathering from noon to 1 pm at the end of Grand Ave. in Grover Beach [CA], just off the parking lot on the right. Adjust your time accordingly by your time zone.
Memengwaa Ikway suggests that you carry your home water to a free flowing water source near you be it creek, stream, pond, bay, lake or ocean. We are all uniting our love and respect for Mother water.
Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you live, Memengwaa Ikway (Butterfly Woman)
Tonya Whitedeer of the Sisters of the Planetary Water Rites in California sent the following excerpted email:
I wish I was not writing to tell you that the Gulf of Mexico is experiencing an epic oil spill. I wish we were not witnessing what may become the largest oil spill in US history. I am asking for your help. I am calling for a group meditation on Sunday evening. (Of course…any time you love water…whether today or tomorrow or Sunday…it will make a difference…so join when you can.)
I am calling for a miracle. Let’s join in a meditation to cap the oil leak Sunday night at 5:00 p.m. Pacific & AZ time. I feel that this oil spill has served to wake us up. Maybe this will allow us to refocus, and find a better solution to meet our energy needs. For that awakening, we give thanks. Our hearts open to the families who have experienced loss, and trauma. Our hearts embrace all life in the area affected; people, wildlife, flora and water.
Grandmother and water sister Tonya Whitedeer says, “Invite the Spirit of Water to be fully present and enlivened and one with the Spirit of the Gulf of Mexico.” Turn your thoughts and prayers towards purity of water and to cap the oil leak Sunday evening 5 p.m. Pacific & AZ time, 6 p.m. Mountain time, Central standard time 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern standard time. Let’s stand in solidarity and prayer for five minutes and give our healing energy to water. Tell the water that you love her and are doing your part to protect her insectamonarca friends where ever you live.
Brighter Planet is once again sponsoring our grant proposal on their social network. Happy Tonics gained 384 VOTES in earlier rounds and we hope to boost VOTES this round from May 1 – 15. Please log in or sign up to VOTE for Adapt to Climate Change Native Wildflower and Butterfly Habitats in Shell Lake, Wisconsin at http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100
Yesterday I went for a walk in the woods. I wanted to check on the Wild Monarch Butterfly Habitat. The DNR did a nice job in the fall of 2009 cutting down forbs and cutting popple trees that were becoming invasive. I noticed two azure butterflies (Celastrina argiolus) flitting about with their lavender colored top wings. This is the second butterfly species I have seen this year. The first was a fritillary spotted earlier in April, well before it should have been in Wisconsin. We will monitor butterfly species on July 4 as part of the national butterfly count sponsored by North American Butterfly Association. The public is invited to help us for a small fee of $5.00 to cover materials. Come for an hour or more, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Seeing that the fiddlehead ferns were ready for picking, I gathered some and brought them home to cook. They are delicious sautéed in butter with garlic. While exploring I noticed that common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is taking over a once native birch tree forest. This is an invasive species.
The dead birch are now a haven to a birch fungus (Piptoporus betulinus) that breaks down the wood. This particular polypore is unique in that it lives throughout the year on dead birch trees. It only lives for up to a year but will continue to stay on the tree in its hardened wooden form. It is known as the artist conk and the bottom is felt like and can be carved into art.
One of the side effects of climate change is that invasive species move into an area that once was native habitat. They are hardy and once an invasive species gets a foothold, it is hard to eradicate.
The DNR has been helping us to manage invasive species in the open field butterfly habitat surrounded by woods.
Your VOTE really matters. It may in fact help fund a book to be published on monitoring species in 2010.