Butterfly Corner

Ryall, M. E., 23 May 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner, p. 7

May 14 – What a day for butterflies. I watched a mother monarch butterfly fluttering low to the ground as she searched for milkweed. She located plants near my kitchen garden. I witnessed the butterfly laying eggs on tiny milkweed plants. When you look closely, one will notice that the butterfly tips her abdomen to the underside of milkweed leaves. More often than not, the air current is less windy close to the ground, making it easier for a butterfly to deposit eggs on tiny milkweed.  This wasn’t the only species of butterflies seen. There were Canada swallowtail, black swallowtail, coppers, fritillary, and Milbert’s tortoiseshell butterflies. Monday’s temperature was a balmy 82 degrees Fahrenheit sunny day, a perfect day for butterflies.

Mrs. Janie LaFave's kindergarten class, Shell Lake Grammar School, WI

Mrs. Janie LaFave’s kindergarten class, Shell Lake Grammar School, WI

May 17 – I was a guest speaker at Mrs. LaFave’s kindergarten class at Shell Lake Elementary School. Children love butterflies. Mrs. LaFave teaches students about monarch biology and the butterfly’s life cycle. One student brought in a deceased monarch to show me. Another student raised his hand and proudly told the class that he had raised a painted lady butterfly at home. I was amazed. He said that he fed the adult butterfly sugar water when it emerged as an adult butterfly. The students have such an interest in nature, be it butterflies, bees, or native plants. We did get a bit off topic when the class wanted to tell me personal bee stories. I found that of interest because bees are suffering a decline. It is wonderful that children are connected to nature and insects. Someday these very children will be the next generation to protect the natural world.

Volunteers met at the Visitors Center in Shell Lake. We talked about the Monarch Butterfly Habitat and ways we are working together to bring this rich environmental land based project forward in the 2012 season. Jim VanMoorleham is going to stain the signs that the Tech Ed. class made at Shell Lake School. Joan Quenan is going to buy some white vinegar to start eradicating invasive spotted knapweed. Yes, it is true. Vinegar kills the invasive species; however, it will kill everything around it too. We are not concerned with killing bird’s foot trefoil in area three along with spotted knapweed. Both plants are replacing native species.

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat is alive with crickets. We saw hundreds of monarch eggs on milkweed plants. Milkweed has finally taken off and there are milkweed plants throughout the habitat. All things point to a bumper crop of monarchs at the habitat this year. We will be marking plants and putting up a “Journey North” butterfly screened tent to view the life cycle of the butterfly. Visitors will be able to observe monarch butterfly conservation in action this year.

The plan is to replant a weeded area with a layer of wet newspapers and top soil from Bashaw Nursery. Thank you, Steve Degner, for delivering the enriched soil. We are getting ready to plant a Three Sisters Garden as a teaching garden. People will have an opportunity to learn about healthy organic native crops, corn, beans and squash. Native seed means that seed originated in the Americas. This type of garden allows nitrogen to be added to the soil to replenish good nutrients that corn depletes. The squash is a natural ground cover and holds moisture. Along with this, the group is planning to plant gourds, within the squash family. Hopefully these will produce future gourd bird houses for the habitat.

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Butterfly Corner

Published by Washburn County Register, Shell Lake, WI, 16 May 2012

May 8 – Northwood School, Minong, WI. I met with Shelby Ausing, parent of students at Northwood School, Josh Tomesh, principal, and Jean Serum, Administrator. The school is implementing a Butterfly Garden on school property.  I chose the site based on a gentle sloped terrain. Property has native hazelnuts, chokecherry, and Juneberry growing naturally in the background near red pines. The open sandy land is visible from Route 53. Land base is between ½ acre for restoration and up to 1 acre for total habitat. It flanks the school entrance driveway and parking lot. The habitat will be within easy access for students to walk to from grade school and charter school. The habitat will be used as an outdoor classroom.

While walking the site, I pointed out two native wild strawberry colonies; pussy toes, host plant of painted lady butterfly; and violets, host plant of fritillary butterfly. Minor invasive spotted knapweed was evident and will need to be eradicated. The area has been mowed, which will be discontinued to allow native habitat to emerge. Happy Tonics will work in liaison with the school. We will advise with conception, landscape design, planning, planting, and maintenance. Northwood School is an average of 8 miles, round trip, from my home in Minong.

May 9 – JoAnn Flanagan, Oregon, OH, reports, “Saw several monarchs today down at the state park. Had the binoculars out – biggest week in birding there. People from over 47 states in attendance.”

May 10 – Sophie Belisle, Shell Lake, called in the first monarch sighting for Shell Lake. She has followed the monarch’s arrival in Shell Lake for two years.  She received a jade butterfly ring, metal butterfly book mark, and My Name is Butterfly, as gifts for her participation in this year’s monarch tracking.

Mike Carpenter, habitat caretaker, has the shrubs weeded. Open space was created around them.  This will allow them to be visible from Route 63. A layer of wet newspaper and mulch will be added around the shrubs. Residents can use the same technique to kill weeds and allow air to get around shrubs and trees.

May 11 – I saw my first male monarch today. He looked like he was in good shape. Milkweed is up in Minong. Mother butterflies don’t need much, only newly emerged milkweed to lay eggs on. Later in the afternoon, I saw a female monarch searching for milkweed. She will tap the leaves and taste the plant with feet to determine if it is truly milkweed.

Mike Jensen, Lampert Lumber, in Spooner, donated building materials for a garden shed, approved by City Council last fall. Happy Tonics, through a grant from Wisconsin Environmental Education, matched 50 percent of the donation. Bob Forsythe, Technical Education Department, and students at Shell Lake School are building the shed. We are thrilled that Mr. Forsythe and students took the project on as community outreach. To learn more about Lampert Lumber Community Giving visit http://lampertlumber.com/about/community-involvement

Butterfly Corner

May 9, 2012 published in Washburn County Register, Shell Lake, WI, USA

According to Scott Black, Xerces Society, Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Civil Rights Memorial, is asking people the world over to share a memory about environmental loss – and, at the same time, learn about what’s being done to stop it. Ms. Lin’s appeal is being made in collaboration with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and World Wildlife Fund to draw attention to Conservation in Action, the newest installment of What is Missing?, a global, multimedia artwork that serves as a memorial to our living planet. Part one can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/10990773What is Missing? This is a whole new way to experience the demise and plea to save threatened species due to habitat loss. Source: New York, NY (PRWEB)

May 2 – Xerces Society has included Happy Tonics on a new mailing list for the “International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Species Survival Commission (SSC), and Butterfly Specialist Group Survey, to assess global research and conservation needs of butterflies.” Xerces Society has published the analysis of survey results in a report, Assessment of Global Research and Conservation Needs for Butterflies: Analysis of Survey Results. Happy Tonics records butterfly species at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. The nonprofit documents butterfly findings to Xerces Society and Wisconsin Butterfly Organization.

May 3 – We have been noticing a surge of butterflies in Minong. The temperature reached an average of 76 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a meadow full of pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) growing next to my property. The little plant is host plant to painted lady butterfly. I haven’t seen the species yet. I bent down to take a closer look. There were lots of Milbert’s tortoiseshell butterflies enjoying nectar from the plant and dandelion. Some butterflies looked like they had recently emerged. They were bright in color. Others showed signs of age with faded and battered wings. Fast flying meadow fritillary butterflies were also seen. Common violet is their host plant. There are plenty of violets in my gardens in Minong. Violets are a sign of healthy soil. I have noticed a small colony of violets in the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.

May 3 – Received a butterfly news update from Stephanie Ryall, Saratoga Springs, NY. “We had a big influx of Scarlett [red] Admirals yesterday. Have you heard of this phenomenon up your way? They fly very quickly and look like they are playing in pairs. Watching the sky in Saratoga.” Many of you know that my hometown is Saratoga Springs, NY. I will be there in August for racing season and book tour. Saratoga County protects the endangered Karner blue butterfly. Large tracks of land have been set aside for butterfly conservation. No development can occur near the butterfly reserves because Karner blue is protected. The DNR in Polk-Burnett County is marking habitat under power lines that has Karner blue host plant, native blue lupine. Unlike the monarch butterfly, which has endangered migration phenomena. Shell Lake is the seasonal home to the monarch and the butterfly does not threaten development.

Jo Stewart, St. Croix Writers; Boyd Sutton, Retired former Wisconsin Writers Association Officer

May 4 – 5 – Wisconsin Writers Association’s (WWA) spring conference was held at The Lodge, in Siren.

Mary Ellen Ryall copyright Anna Martineau Merritt

Mary Ellen Ryall copyright Anna Martineau Merritt

I had the opportunity to sell my book, My Name is Butterfly, and meet many butterfly friends. One individual stands out in my mind, Boyd Sutton. He devoted many years to reshaping WWA and was one of the organization’s driving force. Boyd retired this year. He was honored with an award and stand up resounding applause.

I was heartened to see more youth at the event this year, including talented Mikhaila Lampert. She is a high school age young lady who easily makes her way to outside the classroom learning experiences. Mikhaila earned a scholarship to WWA. It was a privilege to drive her to the conference and have the opportunity to get to know her a little. She lives on a farm near Spooner and loves butterflies. I expect we will see a lot more of her this summer at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat, as a volunteer. Anthony Bukoski was one of the speakers. He is the author of many short story collections. Born in Superior, he writes about the surrounding area. I learned a long time ago that a person should write about what they know. Bukoski reiterated the importance of these words to many aspiring authors.

Memories are in the seeds

May  – It was a very warm day, at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. High winds appeared to sap the oxygen right out of the air, as dust swirled around in small whirlwinds. I needed to plant potatoes that should have been in the ground long ago. The potato spuds had sprouted and needed to be covered by earth.

I watched the sky all day wondering when the rains would start. I knew they were coming. My rain barrels needed filling. The transplanted trees and shrubs were bone dry and leaves were wilting.

Red potatoes have pick flowers

Red potatoes have pick flowers

I saved over aged russets potatoes with eyes. This year, I bought red and yellow starter potatoes to add to the mix. For many years, I have been planting a diverse crop of potatoes together. It appears to keep potato beetles away. I have always had a  happy and healthy crop.

Potato basket hand woven by JoAnn Flanagan, Oregon, OH

Potato basket hand woven by JoAnn Flanagan, Oregon, OH

Last year, I was able to use my own potatoes right up to the middle of march. Imagine that! What a thrill. Not to have to go to the grocery store to buy potatoes for nearly a whole winter. I knew where my potatoes came from. I was enjoying being sustainable and providing for my own food.

The same day, I planted a bed of beans. This year I added Kebarika bush shell bean, bought from organic Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, in Virginia. The bean species is purple, looking much like the scarlet runner. The bean was added to a mix of saved Hidasta, black, and white soup beans. I’ll grow the vine beans up on devised bean poles.

Sample of biodiversity of potatoes crop 2009

Sample of biodiversity of potatoes crop 2009

After I finished planting the potatoes, I started weeding the next bed. Lo and behold, the garlic I planted from seed in 2009 was growing. I thought it had died out last year, but it hadn’t. I dug one up to make sure it truly was the garlic grown from seed. Saved seed do have stories. I remember a man had come to our seed saving workshop, at Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwa College’s Wellness Fair, at the LCO Convention Center. I wish I knew his name. He told me his grandmother had brought garlic seed to American, when she immigrated from Poland. He has been growing the garlic ever since. I felt honored that he thought to give Happy Tonics the memory seed. How I wish today I had his telephone number. I could call him up to tell him the continuing seed story from Minong, Wisconson.

I realized in 2009 that I had to start writing down people’s names after this experience.  How could one carry on the story without a name? Seed is handed down from one person, culture, and tradition to another. It isn’t a story of just the seed, but the people who lovingly tended the seed making sure the seed was passed to the next generation. Yes, the man was an elder. His story was important even when he didn’t think so.

I hope if you are a seed saver, you will remember to write down the person’s name and pass the story on.

Stacie Theis, Beach Bound Books reviews My Name is Butterfly

On exhibit at New Ventures Garden Seminar, Northwood School, Minong, WI

On exhibit at New Ventures Garden Seminar, Northwood School, Minong, WI

It is a thrill to have one’s book reviewed. Thank you Stacie Theis, Beach Bound Books, San Diego, CA, USA, for giving my book, My Name is Butterfly, a good review for parents and teachers.

My Name is Butterfly by Mary Ellen Ryall is a wonderfully written educational story about the birth and life of a Monarch butterfly. The story is told through the eyes of the Monarch caterpillar who eventually transforms into a Monarch butterfly.A young girl named Sarah discovers a mother Monarch laying eggs in their garden. Sarah enthusiastically experiences first hand the birth and transformation of the Monarch caterpillar. The butterfly becomes her teacher as she learns how the caterpillar is born, what it eats and how it becomes a butterfly.

The illustrations by Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza vividly depict the Monarch caterpillar’s and Monarch butterfly’s characteristics.

A great book for parents and teacher alike to educate children about the life of Monarch butterflies.

Available at www.amazon.com It has been a joy working with you Stacie.

Tomorrow I will be speaking to Mrs. Jean LaVave’s kindergarten class in Shell Lake. Mrs. LaVave teaches the children about monarch biology. I have been invited to her class for many years now. It makes me proud to see happy children who are monarch butterfly advocates.

I’ll wear my butterfly shirt, hand appliqued by Myna Atkinson. She is an elder master needlewoman. God bless all our butterfly friends. I couldn’t flutter without them.

Stacie Theis interviews published author Mary Ellen Ryall

Hello Insectamonarca friends,

Many of you realize that I have now become a published author. It is all about the monarch butterfly. As executive director of Happy Tonics, Inc., I have been fortunate to stay “tuned into” the life cycle of the monarch. I have come to understand the risks, biology, host and nectar sources, environmental behavior and a list that just keeps growing.

Hope you enjoy the journey.

Stacie Theis interviews published author Mary Ellen Ryall.

Butterfly Corner with Happy Tonics

Butterfly Corner
by Mary Ellen Ryall

April 20 – In honor of Earth Day, Jim VanMoorleham and I planted five native chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) shrubs in area three, near the Memory Tree Grove, at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. Black chokeberry is a deciduous, cold hardy shrub useful in landscape plantings, showing white flowers in the spring, colorful red foliage, and heavy dark fruit in the fall.

Meadow fritillary copyright Mike Reese, Wisconsin Butterflies Organization

Meadow fritillary copyright Mike Reese, Wisconsin Butterflies Organization

April 24 – Today I saw a white cabbage and a fritillary butterfly. The fritillary’s host plant is violet; flowers are in bloom. Butterfly sightings were posted to Wisconsin Butterfly Organization at http://wisconsinbutterflies.org/Individuals may record their butterfly sightings at this site. Kids would enjoy this activity as much as adults do. The project allows us to understand butterfly population trends.

My Name is Butterfly copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

I am happy to report that my book, “My Name is Butterfly,” is now available at Gadsden Public Library in Gadsden, AL. I am thrilled that libraries around the country are purchasing the book for children. Book postcards also went to the State Library Convention in AL where it was given exposure to other librarians.

According to ABC News, “A female Baringo giraffe calf at the Bronx Zoo was enjoying the warm New York weather over the weekend while frolicking with a butterfly that flew through her exhibit. The butterfly caught the newborn baby’s eye while she was nuzzling her mom and exploring her new home. The calf was born in March but has not yet been named, according to the Bronx Zoo. All of the zoo’s giraffes are named in memory of James and Margaret Carter, benefactors for the Carter Giraffe Building.” You can view the chase at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/baby-giraffe-chases-butterfly-bronx-zoo-16151869

Award winning squash bread copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Award winning squash bread copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

April 25 – My recipe for Squash Bread was a winner at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College Sustainability Living Fair. The bread was chosen for Jiibaakweyang, We are Cooking Together, Flavors of Lac Courte Oreilles. I was delighted to share saved squash seed with attendees. The acorn squash grew in the Three Sisters Garden at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in 2011. Seed sharing is all about stories of where seed comes from. At the fair, Sheldon Spratford gave me beautiful corn husks. He reported that his grandmother grew the corn until the 1980s, when she passed away. He found one husk of dried corn at her house afterwards and saved it. Sheldon, an elder, mentioned that he has been growing the sweet corn since the 1990s. He mentioned that the corn is sweet and small. Happy Tonics will offer the seed at several environmental events in May. The Visitors Center/Store will be open for the season on Memorial Weekend. We invite you to stop by for sweet corn seed.

April 26 – Journey North reported that the monarch migration moved into five new U.S. states—Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota this past week. The cold snap is keeping monarchs away from Shell Lake; there is no milkweed up yet in the habitat. Let us hope that a warming spell will begin soon.

Carol Hubin reported on April 28 that milkweed is up on her property in Shell Lake. Keep your eyes posted. If you spot a monarch, please let us know if it is a faded butterfly or freshly born. Knowing the difference will allow Happy Tonics to record the following: Did the butterfly fly all the way from Mexico or is this the first generation of butterfly in the U. S.? Female butterflies will need milkweed to lay their eggs on. Female butterflies only live a few weeks after depositing eggs.

In 2012, we are going to count monarch eggs at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat and mark milkweed plants that have eggs. Wire cages with tags will be used to identify which milkweed plants have eggs. If you have any old tomato cages to donate or see a monarch sighting, please call Mary Ellen at (715) 466-5349.

Ginger Wilcox smudges Mike Carpenter

Ginger Wilcox smudges Mike Carpenter

April 28 – 5th Annual Earth Day Event in Shell Lake was well attended. We are grateful to Dr. John Anderson and Ginger Wilcox for leading us in a Native American Ceremony to honor donors. Butterfly friends came to celebrate the butterfly and conservation efforts on behalf of the butterfly. Happy Tonics hosted an informal potluck afterwards at the Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, Shell Lake.

Butterfly Corner – March 23, 2012

March 23 – The 2nd Annual Northwest Wisconsin Regional Food Summit was held at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College. John Peck, Family Farm Defenders, was keynote speaker. The topic: Food Sovereignty. In the not so distant past, the family farm and home garden were responsible for supplying food on the table. This system radically changed during the “Green Revolution.” Currently in our everyday lives, we have found out that a globalized food chain has come at a very high cost. Fuel for transportation has risen; seed has gone to hybrid and patented GMO; animals are owned of big Ag-chemical companies. What is wrong with this picture? Food Sovereignty is imperative for food security.

Last year I raised my own vegetables. I learned to can, freeze, dehydrate and dry my foods and herbs. I bought Bashaw’s organic berries and grass fed frozen beef. The organic farm is located on Highway 63, between Spooner and Shell Lake, WI. I know this food is healthy. In 2011, Lac Courte Oreilles Public Library published Jiibaakweywang, We are Cooking together, Flavors of Lac Courte Oreillis. Sandy Stein’s award winning recipe 3 Step Manoomin (wild rice) is published in the book. Sandy is Happy Tonics Secretary. She started a Happy Tonics garden plot of native and medicinal herbs in 2011. This is a seed saving project.

My recipe for Organic Four Grain Health Bread was published in Jiibaakweywang. I used amaranth (red root, pig weed) from the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. Who knew that wild edibles would be part of the native plant community, in the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden? The collaborative book project was made possible by the Institute of Museum Library Services Enhancement Grant for Native American Library Sciences. The focus of the project is to target areas of health, the environment, and traditional culture.

April 14 – Last year over 100 people attended the Gadsden, Alabama, Public Library Local Author Day, which according to Julie Dobbins, is a fun and exciting event! The yearly event provides a great opportunity to discover new writers, buy some books, and get them signed by the author. My Name is Butterfly, written by Mary Ellen Ryall, will be on display at the event. Colorful postcards, with details on how to purchase the book on Amazon, will be available to fellow authors and the public.  It is near impossible to attend all the writer events, such as this; when we are so far off the beaten path. I consider it a great privilege to have my book at the Gadsden, Alabama, Public Library Local Author Day event.

The Aldo Leopold film, Green Fire, will be shown on TV in April. The film is about land ethics. Aldo Leopold Foundation says, “The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire, highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.” We should all be proud that the environmentalist lived in Wisconsin. Leopold wrote his famous book Sand Country Almanac in our own state.   See the following times and channels:

Friday, April 20 at 8pm on WPT; Sunday, April 22 at 2pm on The Wisconsin Channel; and
Tuesday, April 24 at 11pm on WPT.

March 22 – Monarch butterfly news. Due to the unusually warm temperatures and high winds blowing north from the Gulf of Mexico, over the last two weeks, the butterfly has traveled further north at record speed. According to Journey North, the monarch has already reached Kansas, a distance of 1,200 miles from Mexico. There is concern that the monarch is ahead of the normal migration cycle, usually the monarch is in Kansas on April 15. Scientists are diligently watching for an “ecological mismatch.”  The monarchs are at a critical time in life. It is this generation that reproduces the next generation of butterflies. Will milkweed be up and ready for the laying of eggs on milkweed this early in the season?

In December, Dr. Lincoln Brower and other scientists count the number of Oyemal fir trees that have overwintering monarchs. The Mexican count showed the monarch population down by 28 percent from last year. This is an ongoing trend. Part of the cause is the continued plundering by illegal loggers in and around the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Mexico.

Another concern is the loss of milkweed in breeding habitat. “Dr. Karen Oberhauser is co-author of newly published research. Her study found a 58% decline in milkweed and an 81% decline in monarch egg production in agricultural fields of the Midwest,” Source: Journey North.

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