Grimm Fairy Tales — Fabulous Realms

Beetle and Butterfly Pollinator Talk at Saratoga Community Garden

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Speaker Mary Ellen Ryall, Environmental Educator
Saratoga Community Garden at Wesley Retirement Community


Fossil records show that beetles were abundant during the Mesozoic meh·suh·zow·uhk period (about 200 million years before present). Beetles were flower visitors of the earliest angiosperms such as Magnolia and rose. Source:

Beetle pollinators are attracted to flowers by the bright orange color. The beetles not only pollinate the flowers, but they mate while inside the flowers. A mutant version of the plant with red flowers becomes more common with the passage of time. A particular variant of the beetle prefers the red flowers to the orange flowers. Over time, these two beetle variants diverge from each other to such an extent that interbreeding is no longer possible. What kind of speciation has occurred in this example, and what has driven it? Sympatric speciation, habitat differentiation.


Ladybug is the official State Insect of Massachusetts

The ladybug was adopted as the official state insect or insect emblem of Massachusetts in 1974 (thanks to a campaign that began with a second-grade class in the town of Franklin). Because this insect benefits agriculture and delights children everywhere, Ohio, New York, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Delaware also designate the ladybug as an official state symbol.

A ladybug can consume up to 60 aphids per day, and will also eat a variety of other harmful insects and larvae (including scales, mealybugs, leafhoppers, mites, and different types of soft-bodied insects), as well as pollen and nectar.

Also called lady beetle, ladybird, or lady fly, the most common variety of ladybug found in Massachusetts is the two-spotted lady beetle (Adalia bipunctata).

Save the New York nine-spotted Ladybug

The nine-spotted Ladybug of New York is also in decline at

Puerto Rican Insects are declining.

The date includes pollinators. 2 degrees Celcius has already impacted 60 percent of the insect animal pollinators. If it happens in the tropics, think what is happening here. How many bees and butterflies have you seen of late?


Some common butterflies that you will find in the New York State area include Cabbage White, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Monarch, and Pearl Cresent and Painted Lady.

Pearl Cresent:

Host plant for Pearl Cresent: Several species of smooth-leaved true asters such as New England Aster. The species overwinters in the third instar caterpillar stage.

This spring, May 2, the Pearl Cresent was here when the lilacs bloomed. The butterflies look for native plants as the host plant, including the New England Aster, to reproduce and to obtain nectar. I didn’t see any asters because it was early. Lilac is not native, but first, which usually happens before native plants are out and flourishing. There are two broods, one in May and the other in August. Source:

Cabbage White:

Cabbage white butterfly: Reproduces on Brasilia plants such as cabbage, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts. Yesterday, I saw the Cabbage white butterfly in someone’s garden plot. The butterfly was laying eggs between the leaves of a Brasilia plant. Check the leaves and lightly wash the plant leaves gently with soap and water, and gently hose down afterward.

Painted Lady and the Monarch Butterfly

Summer 2018 – The Saratoga Community Garden was abundant with Painted Lady. The butterfly, along with the Monarch butterfly arrived around the same time. It was migration time toward the end of August.

The Painted lady overwinters in the southern United States. The Monarch journies back home to the Oyamel fir forest in Mexico. Last year both species were drawn to the brightly colored zinnia flowers. The Monarch butterflies flew right to the red zinnia, which they can see.

Monarch Butterfly Update.

The butterfly has seen a significant rise in the winter species surviving the winter. It is estimated that over 100,000 Monarchs are on their way back up north. With the winter habitat down t less than 20 acres, it is remarkable that the Monarch can still turn around their 10 percent survival rate, at least at the moment. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife are watching the numbers to determine if the Monarch is now an endangered species.

Update: Endangered Species List
What’s next
May 24, 2019
Listing decision deadline extended
December 15, 2020
Listing decision is due

Video of meadow for pollinators

Visited a yard meadow created two years ago that is offering life to native plants, pollinators, and birds at

Defining Speculative Fiction – DIY MFA

I am starting to tool up for writing a historical nonfiction book on my ancestors.I think this site may be of assistance.

The Neophyte Writer

Knowing your genre is key for getting your book into reader’s hands. Melanie Marttila breaks down speculative fiction definitions!

Source: Defining Speculative Fiction – DIY MFA

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Random prompts sheet – Sat 22nd June — Morgen ‘with an e’ Bailey

Hello. Here are your prompts for today. Make of them what you will and let me know how you get on in the comments section below (or on Facebook/ Twitter). NB. just give us a summary unless you want to share the whole piece but if you post the actual writing, it’s deemed as published and you’ll […]

via Random prompts sheet – Sat 22nd June — Morgen ‘with an e’ Bailey

I did am author interview with Morgen Bailey in the past. She is outstanding in keeping up the game of writing. Bravo Morgen.

Celebrating Anya LaFlamme

Anya LaFlamme attended the pollinator classes I taught at Gateway Park, Fitchburg, MA, a few years ago, She has continued on to pursue the Massachusetts Master Gardener Classes and is a graduate of the Horticulture Program at Tower Hill Botanical Gardens Horticulture College, in Boylston, MA.

I am very proud of Anya. She is also a beekeeper and landscaper. The graduation is on November 2, 2018 at 6 PM. The event will be held at the British American Club, 1 Simon Road, Fitchburg, MA 01420.

Send Anya your congratulations. She deserves our applause. Bravo Anya.

Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer Cargill



grandmothertonyawhitedeercargill  June 6, 2018 – Goodbye dear sister

Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer Cargill walked on in May 2018. I was traveling in May. I felt that a transition had taken place, and I knew intrinsically that it was Grandmother Whitedeer. I could feel her absence. Yesterday, I telephoned California and spoke with her husband. Grandmother Whitedeer did not suffer at the end of life, according to her spouse, and I am relieved that she walked on to the other side without pain.

Grandmother started the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites at Some of the sisters helped Grandmother with the website because she was a teacher and not a computer techie. I was honored to be a councilwoman. I remember when Grandmother called me up and told me that it was important that I join and why.

In 2014, I moved to Saratoga Springs, NY, the home of my ancestors since 1856. I am focusing on Herbal Keepers as a Mission: We teach about the importance of pollinators for a secure local food supply. I am a protector of the Green Nation at

water Hans free domain

We need to safeguard water and the green nation for the future, not for ourselves, but for the next generation, and generations to come. Dedicating daily Ceremony is the center of our Being, and we are honored to be called the Sisterhood of Planetary Water Rites. Water, plant and pollinator advocacy continues at

Even though our spiritual teacher has walked on, I feel it is important to remember what she taught us about The Net of Light and the Grandmothers Teachings. I am blessed Grandmother trusted the Sisterhood with her life’s lessons and the book of her life’s work entitled Messages from the Ancient Ones. I asked Grandmother if she wanted to publish the book a few months ago and she said no. The book was a gift.

Miigwetch Grandmother. I will always remember you until our paths cross again. Aho.

Dandelion Greets the Spring

Hobomok moth.jpgPhoto: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and Hobomok skipper (Poanes habomok)

The flower is a sunny composite with bright yellow bloom, which is made up of many petals in a tight cluster. The bumblebee is one of the first insects to seek out its sweet nectar. Photo is of a tiny skipper butterfly sipping dandelion nectar.  The early plant of spring is a delight in salads. When dandelions grow in a field, I trust no weedkiller has poisoned the earth. Otherwise, only grass grows. The cold and wet days of April are long this year. It was the last week of April before I could venture out into the woods in search of a spring tonic such as dandelion.

Wild foraging always keeps me connected to the earth beneath my feet. I am communing when I am outside and scouting wild edibles. Before I take anything, I make a little ceremony of honoring the plant and ask permission to gather something to use for myself. I put down an offering of a sacred plant which is ground up, and smudge with white sage. Both are healing, and I feel a sense of peacefulness in making an offering. Nature is a gift, and I need to honor and remember the sacrifice on the part of a plant’s life. Who am I to grab something without asking? The flowers and leaves are nourishment to wild creatures or pollinators.

There among the woodlands, clumps of dandelion grew. I picked leaves and brought them back, washed them, and put in a salad. Dandelion is rich in iron, potassium, and magnesium. Iron promotes the healthy production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. I feel sluggish after the long hard winter. After eating several leaves in a salad, I feel a slight surge of energy. Potassium is good for the heart, kidneys, and other organs to work properly. I try to aim to eat a banana or a potato a day to ensure that I am getting enough potassium. Magnesium is necessary to transport calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes. The process is imperative to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm. The three of these minerals seem to go hand and hand, and all for the asking are readily available in dandelion.

I could go to the health food store and purchase dandelion leaves as a tea or dried herb, but the plant parts would be dead to me, and I am not confident that a plant in a store has the same value as the fresh herb itself. As an herbalist, I feel this is true, at least for me.


The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants

The Void is Always Filled

by Mary Ellen Ryall

Lepidoptera Tithorea butterfly chrysalis copyright Alex Wild Copyright Alex Wild

I received a birthday card for my 28th birthday, on April 30, 1970, from my beloved Aunt Ellen. I have always loved the words.

What shall we wish thee,
what can be said
Bringing the sunshine
all the year round?
Where is the treasure lasting and dear
That shall ensure thee
all through the year?

Faith that increaseth
walking in the light
Hope that aboundeth
happy and bright.

Love that is perfect
casting out fear
These shall ensure thee
a happy year.

As Patrick Tayor, the Irish storyteller would say, and this is what it was. When I was a child, I used to pick Lily-of-the-Valley and give posies to my grandmother. I remember, in junior high, gram worked as a live-in domestic for Miss Margaret and Josephine Sullivan, retired school teachers. A previous essay titled Memories Submerged in a Poem, about that time, is available at

In 1964, a year after graduating from St. Peter’s Academy, I was stranded at the family farm in Rock City Falls with no opportunities whatsoever, when providence stepped in. I saw an article in Seventeen Magazine recruiting youth of America to come and work at the World’s Fair, in New York City, for the summer, and I applied. A businesswoman Barbara James had an apartment to share for the World’s Fair season. I wrote about the experience in Born Under a Lucky Star. Learn more at

Photo: World’s Fair Post CardNew_York_Worlds_Fair_1964-1965_Postcards copyright Joschik

After working at the World’s Fair for the summer, I knew the season would end, and I was desperate to stay in the City, and not return to the farm and a nothingness existence. Barbara had a literary career working with an editor, at Time and Life Magazine. What a beautiful office she had on Fifth Avenue, on an upper floor overlooked the Hudson River. My roommate arranged an interview for a position at Time and Life, under the pseudo name of Betty Brown, in the subscription department. Thanks to Barbara, my adult life could begin in earnest. It was my first real break into the world of publishing. It was unwittingly because I never dreamed I would become an author. Everyone else thought I was a writer, but I was a late bloomer as gram would say. To celebrate, I bought my grandmother, Ann O’Grady Sullivan Cunningham (July 7, 1892 – November 25, 1979) a china teacup and saucer set, by Royal Albert, Bone China England, decorated with the beloved Lily-of-the-Valley.

lily of the valley tea cup

PHOTO: teacup

Recently, I have been thinking about Aunt Ellen’s and Gram’s heirlooms. The question begged, who will carry the memories forward after I am gone?

A butterfly cup has its story. I was 33 in 1978 when I moved to Venezuela for six months. I assisted Dr. Jorge Armand with cataloging books for the Archeological Museum, at the University of the Andes, in Merida, an Andean Town at 7,000 feet altitude.

Merida Veneuela copyright venzolannosPhoto: Merida Venezuela

History of Dr. Armand’s work follows: “In the year of 1972, the anthropologist Jorge Armand founded the Archaeological Museum assigned to the Department of Anthropology and Sociology of the School of History of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, with headquarters in the same Department. Due to the growth that the Museum had, it was achieved in the year 75, although without receiving official recognition from the University Council. At this stage, the museum consisted of two research areas: Archeology, coordinated by Professor Armand and Ethnology coordinated by Professor Jacqueline Clarac de Briceño.” Source: When Dr. Armand returned to India to complete a Ph.D. in Anthropology, I returned to the United States.

Back home again between assignments, I was just in time to take a position at Skidmore College, Alumni and Publications Department. I lived at the Annandale Mansion, 245 Clinton Street, Saratoga Springs, New York. My great uncle Owen James Reynolds (June 5, 1852 – September 23, 1920) was an Irish immigrant and stonemason. He and a team of craftsmen built the Annandale Mansion.


Photo: The Annandale 1880’s

I never entertained visitors at my resident. I was surprised one evening when I heard a knock on the door, and it was Aunt Ellen. I invited her in, and being Irish; we settled down to a nice cup of tea. While delicately arranging dried petals on paper, my Aunt Ellen silently watched and asked about the blossoms, especially Venezuelan orchids that grow wild in the Andes Mountains. I learned about native plants and butterflies while stationed in Peru, Venezuela, and later Colombia, and Ecuador, between 1974 to 1980. Sometime after this encounter, the butterfly cup came to me. Aunt Ellen knew about synchronic moments.

butterfly cup

Photo Butterfly Cup

After Gram passed away (July 7, 1892 – November 25, 1979), Aunt Ellen returned the tea set. I am grateful that the china will go to Kara. Who else would keep the ancestry stories alive, but Aunt Ellen’s beloved granddaughter?


Photo: Misahualli – Number 88 butterflies and Chrysalis

I was out of the country, in Misahualli, Ecuador, at the time of Gram’s passing, (November 25, 1979) and without contact with the outside world because I was in the Jungle along the Napo and Misahualli Rivers. Note: Douglas Clark was a personal friend of mine in the 1970s, a famous butterfly collector and jungle tour guide in Misahualli. Following butterflies became a passion in South America, and Misahualli was my first exposure in the world of Lepidoptera, the study of butterflies.

San Agustin copyright Lonely Planet

Photo: Archeology site

I didn’t receive a telegram about Gram’s death until I returned to San Agustin, Colombia, in January 1980. There was a telegram office in the Andean village with a famous archeology site, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Preserve in 1995. Learn more at  At the time, my friend Ann Fry and I rented a house in San Agustin. It was a great adventure.

My beloved Aunt Ellen walked on February 27, 1982. To attend the funeral, I flew in from San Francisco, California, where I worked for the St. Mark’s Historic Lutheran Church, which survived the Fires of San Francisco in 1906. Learn more at

St. Mark's Luthern Church

Photo: St. Mark’s Church

At the funeral home in Ballston Spa and while standing in front of the casket, I noticed a card with a poem and dried pressed flowers. I was touched that my cousin Kathy thought about what the blossoms and writing meant to her mother. Kathy wrote, on April 3, 1982, “Thanks so much for being here and for your lovely note and kind thoughts.” She continued, “Hope you’ll call or drop in when you’re in Saratoga – Mom always loved your surprise visits from the far corners of the globe – our many happy memories sustain us. She dearly loved you – carry her thoughts with you always.”

southwest-waterfront-00 Madison Marquette

Photo: DC

In the early 1990s, Kathy occasionally visited me in Washington, DC. We enjoyed time in the penthouse overlooking the SW waterfront, with views of the Tidal Basin, Lincoln’s Memorial, and The War College in south-west DC. Kathy loved culture and art as much as I did. Both of us were artistic, creative, and a bit eccentric. We could spend the whole day at the Smithsonian Museums, which were within walking distance from the penthouse. Then the season passed as they always do, and we went our separate ways. In 1994, my husband Will DeJong and I moved to Southern Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, and Kathy settled into life in Upstate New York. We didn’t keep up with each other during her married years because I traveled and worked afar.

After retiring, Kathy lived with her daughter because she needed extra help. Cousin Ellie told me that Kathy had developed Alzheimer’s Disease. I felt a loss knowing that this is one disease that can’t be put back together again. Kara was doing family research on the Internet, she looked for connections to her past, and discovered the essay, “Born Under a Lucky Star,” about Aunt Ellen, her grandmother, and she sent a message. Learn more at

Again, it was as if Aunt Ellen had a hand in this serendipitous moment. Now I realize the butterfly cup and a few other small pieces of China are intended for Kara. Kara’s Great-Grandmother handed down an antique English serving platter decorated with roses made by L. Straus & Sons, in Carlsbad, Austria. Now, this is an heirloom for Kara.

Straus and Sons platter

Photo: Straus Platter

NOTE: In 1865 Lazarus and Isidor Straus formed the whole importing firm of L. Straus & Sons. They were importers of Crockery, China, and Glassware. The three sons of Lazarus and Sara Straus were Nathan, Oscar, and Isidor. Courtesy of the Straus Historical Society Source: Historical Society at

There are always stories, and today I remember I just flutter by, after all my name is Memengwaaikwe, in Ojibwe, which means Butterfly woman. I am grateful to have these stories and treasures to pass into the future. God Bless You, Aunt Ellen. Thank you for bringing Kara into my life. She is helping to ease my heart with the loss of Kathy to a devastating disease, and hopefully, I can bring some comfort also.


There are over 1,000 North American species of solitary hunting wasps. All of them prey on arthropods, which the female stings and paralyzes (but doesn’t kill so that they don’t begin to decompose immediately). Most solitary wasps specialize on a single type of prey, and many build highly characteristic burrow nests. Once the prey is […]

via Thread-waisted Wasps Provisioning Nests — Naturally Curious with Mary Holland

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