Conservation and Asters

Ryan Conner proudly stands next to his Conservation Star Home Award sign

Ryan Conner proudly stands next to his Conservation Star Home Award sign.

This past week I had an opportunity to visit Ryan Conner in Hayward. He invited me to see the native habitat he was implementing on his land.  He owns a home and property on Grindstone Lake. Ryan received a Conservation Star Home Award for turning a sandy lawn of mowed grass into a native habitat on the lake. Frankly this is how I found his
house. Ryan had told me he had a rather large colony of asters growing. The asters led me right to his door.

While I was there I saw several species of small native bees. I also learned about species of asters which are not easy to identify. Reason why? There are over 200 species of aster in the United States.

 

Calico aster with pink centers.

Calico aster with pink centers.

Ryan pointed out that calico aster has pink disk florets. The species also has a plumed flower formation. Now I know the name of white heath aster and sky blue aster which were growing in a rather large colony.

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat has upland white aster. There are several other species of asters at the habitat and hopefully I will be better able to identify the different species more easily now. Ryan is a dedicated volunteer at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. He has assisted the nonprofit for nearly four years now during the summer season. He has added many native species to the Shell Lake habitat, which in time will provide more color and interest beyond the summer months. It is interesting to note that one of Ryan’s neighbors has also begun to turn his land into a native habitat for pollinators.

Without native habitat for pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, dragonflies, bats and moths there most likely would not be the plant and insect biodiversity that exists today. According to Douglas W. Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, “Up to 90 percent of all phytophagous insects are considered specialists because they have evolved in concert with no more
than a few plant lineages” (Bernays & Graham 1988). Native insects have not evolved with alien plants and most likely are unable to eat them. For homeowners who want bees to pollinate fruit trees and gardeners who want to have flowers and vegetables pollinated, it is important to plant native plant species that will invite pollinators to the back yard.

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