Monitoring species at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat September 2010

 I am pleased to say that the metal and cement sculpture art is in the habitat now. Michell Carlisle, mother to intern Tabitha Brown, graciously donated a cement sculpture of Psyche with wire butterfly wings in glass and wood beads. This is the first art that visitors will see when they enter the habitat. The art looks contemporary and could be interpreted as modern or folk art. Psyche has been around from the time of classical Rome and is the only surviving full-length novel by Lucius Apuleius from that time period. The book Metamorphoses translates to butterfly metamorphoses. . Corrie Wolf’s father, Raymond “Duke” Wolf, donated a professional sign for the habitat. It says Happy Tonics Butterfly Garden. Tabitha not only arranged for the art she helped create both donations. She was a great help to us through the early parts of summer and all through the winter of 2010.

Tabitha Brown

Tabitha Brown

 Tabitha was our ambassador at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College and made sure that the 2009-2010 Environmental Film Fest was a success. I don’t know what I would have done without her. This year was extremely hard on me with my husband’s illness.  Through memorial donations from Pauline and Dennis McFadden, Ballston Spa, NY;  Ann Stambeck, Bobby and Bootsie Bailey and Diane Dryden of Shell Lake, WI, and Erica Hohos, Worcester, MA,  I was able to purchase a metal tulip by the artist William F. Colburn, Jr. of Fairhope, Alabama. This is a memorial to my husband, Willard H. DeJong. Will originally was from Holland and moved to the United States at age seven. The tulip is the famed flower of the Netherlands. The art is in the Memory Tree Grove on the far northern side of the habitat.

Our summer intern Brennan Harrington helped with building a wood frame for the sign. The wood used was cut and stripped from his own land in Stonebrook. He cemented the sculptures in the ground for permanence.  Brennan was also a great help at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in the summer of 2010. He took total charge of removing spotted knapweed, an invasive species, watering plants and making sure the path was maintained. It is a big job to maintain a ½ acre habitat and I appreciate everything he did for us.   

It was amazing to see the goldenrod. There were long lasting golden blooms at the habitat from September to end of October. I witnessed an abundance of small native bees including bumble bees on the plants when the heat of the sun starts to wane. They were seen in groups enjoying the last of the nectaring goldenrod. We have two species of goldenrod at the habitat one is stiff and the other is showy. Showy goldenrod has a cylindrical cluster of flowers.  Stiff goldenrod has a flattened inflorescence and broad thick basal leaves. I feel the stiff goldenrod is so pretty it should be called showy instead of stiff.

Bees appear to be like family in that they share and don’t compete for a food source. Bees just enjoy themselves. There is plenty for all. I saw up to twenty bees on just a few plants.

 An ethnobotany teacher, Leslie Ramsyck, told me that goldenrod does not cause allergies, although many people argue this fact. Don Engebretson and Don Williamson in Perennials for Michigan and Wisconsin state that goldenrod blooms at the same time when ragweed is out. Both species belong to the Ambrosia family. The difference between the two plants is that goldenrod does not cause allergies (183). There is actually a difference between ragweed also. The native ragweed does not cause llergies. It is the exotic ragweed that is the problem according to Ramsyck.

Goldenrods are resistant to pests. Some wasps prefer to make the stem a home. Eggs of the wasp are inserted into the stem which creates a stem gall.  The larva lives within and burst out at some point as wasps.   

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September the Long Goodbye

A prairie of Tall Bluestem Native Grass

A prairie of Tall Bluestem Native Grass.

Sunday, September 26, I stopped at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat to pick tall bluestem seed for a seed saving project. We want to offer online prairie friends the opportunity to buy a little of our native grass seed. We don’t sell seed by the pound or even by the ounce for that matter. When we ship common milkweed seed, the package contains 20-30 seeds. Tomorrow I will mail milkweed seed to Florida and Virginia. People are not greedy. They just want to help the butterfly by planting the host plant for the monarch.

As I strolled leisurely through the habitat, I saw at least a dozen yellow sulphur butterflies flitting about gathering nectar from periwinkle showy asters and yellow blooming birds foot trefoil. Among the stiff and showy goldenrod, I saw many species of native bees sipping nectar.

Summer may be over but the habitat is still alive with the activity of smaller species such as the insects which I saw in the warm sun enjoying the last days of blooming wildflowers. Soon a colder freeze will come and all life will go dormant to wait out the long cold winter.

Native bumblebees

Native bumblebees

I am enjoying these last few days of documenting and photographing the littlest of species that make our natural world complete.

WANT TO LEARN ABOUT A NATIVE BEE?

One of my favorite things is the bumble bee and here is her story.

Bombus ternarius from back

Bombus ternarius from back

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.

Bombus ternarius with yellow band after rusty hair bands

Bombus ternarius with yellow band after rusty hair bands

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.  

Bombus ternarius front view

Bombus ternarius front view

Welcome Back Meadow Fritillary and Bumblebee

April 10, 2010 – I was so surprised to see a meadow fritillary butterfly and what I think may be a rusty-patched bumblebee.  My neighbor Bobbie and her dog Bootsie were sitting outside and watching the nature show.  Bobbie said, “Bootsie was barking at the bumblebee earlier.”  She pointed out the futterbys.  Check out Larry Webber’s Website at http://wisconsinbutterflies.org/butterfly/species/70-meadow-fritillary to learn more about the meadow fritillary.

Meadow fritillary

North of Mount Morris, Waushara Co., WI, August 21, 2002 copyright Wisconsin Butterflies Organization

This is the earliest I have ever seen a butterfly outside of the mourning cloak that was seen in March and is the first butterfly to show itself after the snows. 

Bumblebees are another passion of mine. The rusty-patched bumblebee is in decline. I think this is the species I may have seen today because it had a rusty band around its middle. 

Xerces Society rusty-patched bumblebee

Xerces Society rusty-patched bumblebee

 According to Xerces Society this species of bumblebee though found in the Midwest is not supposed to be in Washburn County.

I feel that I am on a treasure hunt because I want to not only document this bumblebee species in Washburn County. I hope at least I am fortunate enough to photograph it and other bumbles in 2010.

I did notice that viola (violet plant) grew as a ground cover beneath the nonflowering lilac.

violet

violets growing under trees in Minong, Wisconsin

  The fritillary host plant is the viola.  The caterpillars overwinter and emerge as butterflies in the spring.  It was near 60 degrees Fahrenheit today and perhaps the butterfly had recently emerged as a butterfly. 

Think spring Insectamonarca friends and be happy where ever you are.

Spring issue Butterflies and Gardens Hits the Press

Dear Insectamonarca friends,

B&G Cover Spring 2010

Cover to newsletter

  We hope you will enjoy the spring issue of Butterflies and Gardens at http://happytonics.wordpress.com/

 We are sad to report that the monarchs will be migrating back to the USA with the lowest numbers since the 1970s when they were first recorded.  Read all about the floods and mudslides in Mexico.  Chip Taylor, University of Kansas and Monarch Watch, points out that illegal deforestation has compromised the Mexican habitats for many years.  

 May we all pay attention to promoting biodiversity and reforestation for the monarch butterfly and pollinating species including native bees.

PLEASE VOTE FOR OUR GRANT PROPOSAL on Brighter Planet

Happy Tonics has been selected again as a candidate for the April 1 – 15 VOTING PERIOD with Brighter Planet.  Our Grant Proposal Native Habitats and Community Gardens in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, needs your VOTE at
http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100
We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Environmental Education Organization and Public Charity.  Officers and board work for free.
 
 
Please take a minute to REGISTER on BRIGHTER PLANET and VOTE for our Grant Proposal.  Thank you for helping us create a world of beauty for today and the future.  
 
Bees on Coneflower

Native Bumblebees on coneflower

  Our work is dedicated to helping the littlest of species the pollinating butterflies and native bees that need our help.  We grow native habitat and crops to promote biodiversity which pollinators depend upon.

Thank you for VOTING for our Cause at http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100
 

Adapting to Climate Change

Please take a minute to REGISTER AND VOTE at http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100

Happy Tonics needs your VOTE to help us do our work.  Officers and Board Members give of their time to educate and implement programs to adapt to Climate Change by promoting Sustainability of Native Plants, Monarch Butterfly and other pollinator habitat.  Our mission is:  Sanctuary for the Monarch Butterfly and Food Safety Issues.

Bumble bee

Native bumble bee on autumn sedum

beauty she gives

small square foot garden

We are a small grassroots nonprofit that needs your help to WIN our Climate Change Native Habitat and Community Garden Shell Lake grant proposal.

This is not Happy Tonics first attempt to bring Adapting to Climate Change into national awareness.

We were honored to participate in the Green Effect grant process with National Geographic sponsored by Sun Chips in 2009.  Although other worthy causes won, we believe that each of us must do our part to bring the message of adapting to climate change home.  (National Geographic, Green Effect Winning Ideas for a Better World, November 2009, insert after pg. 6.)

Native pollinator plants

Plant native wildflowers for drought conditions

Won’t you help us now?  Please SIGN UP AND VOTE at http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100

Thank you.

One Meadow at a Time

Liatris in restored prairie

Blazing star growing in Damian Vraniak's praire in Springbrook, WI, USA.

Good news!  New York City is turning heads.  Here’s a an article about an old railroad bed that is now a garden.  Bravo!

http://mediacompost.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/old-train-tracks-become-green-area-and-public-park-nyc/

Happy Tonics did the same thing in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, USA.  We created a Monarch Butterfly Habitat, a restored remnant native tall grass prairie, where once buffalo roamed and tall grasses grew.  The habitat is alongside of an old railroad bed on a narrow strip of land, on one half acre.  The railroad bed is now a trail for foot travel, bicycle and horses. 

Dennis Van Engelsdorp spoke about the importance of helping the pollinators especially honey and native bees including the beloved bumble bee.  He suggests letting meadows grow.  You can view the video on our Blog re:  A Plea for Bees. 

Let’s get beyond the written world.  I would love to hear from you and learn what you are doing right now to help Green Up your corner of the world.  Let’s turn the abandoned wasteland into something beautiful as a Pay it Forward act of kindness for generations to come.

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