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.