Blog/Radio talk Talkupy with Mary Ellen Ryall Butterflies

Monarch butterflies are being hit on all sides these days. Loss of habitat, climate change andnatural disasters are taking their toll on these and other beautiful pollinators. Thankfully, there are people watching out for them. Talkupy with Annie Lindstrom welcomes Mary Ellen Ryall, retiring Executive Director of Happy Tonics Inc., to the show on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Mary Ellen is passionate about helping people learn how to create pollinator corridors in their own backyards. She will discuss the work she did at Happy Tonics’ teaching garden in Shell Lake, WI and her books on Monarchs. She also will talk about the wild butterflyand solitary bee nesting habitat she is creating in Fitchburg, MA. For more information, visit Mary Ellen’s Facebook page. For an expanded slide show go to Talkupy.net

Fitchburg’s Winter Farmers Market is a new spin for a Museum

Once a month, the Fitchburg Art Museum is a host site for the Fitchburg Farmers Market, which takes place every first Thursday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., January – June. Local growers and artisans, come to sell local grown or frozen grass fed beef, pork and poultry, eggs and handcrafted products. 

ImageIt was a joy to meet local farmers. I met Vee Lashua, owner of Brookside Family Farm, Westminister MA. Fresh farm eggs, winter crops such as Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots and frozen grass feed beef and pork chops were purchased. When I returned home I cooked up the Brussels sprouts and devoured them in one sitting.

ImageSilver Oak Farm in Ashby is home to alpacas. Pam Welty, owner, sold me two pairs of Alpaca Survival Socks with a blend of spun alpaca wool. These will be Christmas presents.

ImageI bought hearty fresh baked bread by Hearth Fire Traveling Wood Fired Cuisine. Scott and Kerry Metcalf are the owners. I purchased a loaf of spiced apple cider and raisin bread. On Sunday after church, my sister made us a breakfast at Winter Hill Farm. We enjoyed the bread at that time. 

 Growing Places Garden Project was also there. I had an opportunity to speak with Anna Finstein, an AmeriCorps volunteer. I plan to collaborate with the project to educate children about growing food at school and in city backyard gardens. I will be representing Happy Tonics, headquartered in northwest WI. As a board member of the nonprofit environmental education organization, I look forward sharing garden information with gardeners in my new city.  As a published author, I write about pollinator corridors and monarch butterflies, I look forward to teaching children about monarch butterfly habitat and native plants that are necessary to the butterfly’s survival. It is thrilling to know that I can have my very own garden plot, in the park, in front of The Sundial, the building where I live, thanks to Growing Places Garden Project.

ImageTerry Impostato, owner of Semi Precious Gem Treasures, had an inviting display of fine art jewelry. I asked Terry to repair two necklaces that I had saved for years. One is a pearl necklace from Japan, probably from the 1940s; the other is a cinnabar necklace. She told me that cinnabar was a byproduct and at one time was a toxic waste product. Now it is beautiful carved beads that have separated from the string.

 According to http://www.chinafinds.com/cinnabar-guide.html  Cinnabar, also known as Chinese Lacquer, is a famous Chinese handicraft. Traditionally, cinnabar items were created by painting multiple layers of lacquer onto an item, letting the item dry between each coat, and then carving the resulting layers of lacquer into beautiful patterns. Cinnabar gets its name from the toxic red mineral cinnabar (mercury sulfide) that was once used to give the distinctive red color to the lacquer used in the process. Lynda Ireland, a friend, had given me the broken necklace years ago. It is only now that I am having the necklace repaired, at least 12 years later.

 In the future, I plan to interview other vendors in order for readers to learn about Fitchburg Art Museum and the wonderful programs that are happening there.

Till then, be happy butterfly friends wherever you are.

Exciting Findings Monarch Survival: An Amazing Feat

Source: News from Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) – University of Minneapolis.

Butterfly followers may find this article of interest considering that Karen Oberhauser, Director of Monarch in the Classroom, wrote. Karen is a leading scientist and teacher in the field of monarch biology and migration. She wrote, “Mary Ellen Ryall from Shell Lake, WI, has established and dedicated a native remnant tall grass prairie as monarch habitat on 1/2 acre of city land. After a tremendous storm, she has shared an amazing story of monarch survival.”

On July 1, 2011 a straight line wind at 100 mph struck Minong, WI. It blew down 11 red pine trees on my property in the village. In the process of storm cleanup, the trees were cut and taken to the local saw mill to be turned into board foot. There was an Aldo Leopold Bench that was crushed beneath one tree. The logger brought his big equipment in and lifted the tree so that his son could save the bench.

Chrysalis after the storm. On underside of Aldo Leopold bench copyright Mary Ellen Ryall
Chrysalis after the storm. On underside of Aldo Leopold bench copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Lo and behold a monarch chrysalis was on the bench. I thought about how the butterfly was a form of transformation and knew it would adapt to the landscape changes.  I marveled that I saw a few monarch butterflies flying about the day after the storm. How could winds of 100 mph wreck such havoc in the village and yet allow the butterflies to survive? How did the same wind that caused birds in maple trees to lose their lives allow a butterfly, the weight of a single maple leaf, to survive? It is a beautiful wonder.

“While monarchs have amazing tenacity, many individuals are not as lucky as those in Mary Ellen’s habitat. MLMP volunteer Diane Rock captured some incredible photos of monarch predation last summer…[monarch butterfly faces threats], especially as eggs and larvae, but also as adults. Several studies have shown that only 5-10% of monarchs survive to adulthood in the wild. In strong winds and other extreme climate conditions, individual monarchs stand a fighting chance, but they are often no match for the spiders, ants, stink bugs, wasps and other invertebrates that attack monarch larvae on milkweed plants. Black-beaked orioles and black-headed grosbeaks are common predators of adult monarchs in their overwintering sites, and in their breeding grounds, the adults may fall prey to spiders.

Monarch survival is an amazing feat, considering all the dangers that they face throughout the course of their lives. They appeal to all of us because of the astounding things they are able to accomplish. Research and monitoring through MLMP help us to understand the hardship that monarchs face, and areas where improvements can help support monarch populations.”

Monarch tasting my fingers and walks across to Valerian flower for nectar
Monarch tasting my fingers and walks across to Valerian flower for nectar

Source: After the Storm by Mary Ellen Ryall

http://www.mlmp.org/Newsletters/monthly/2011/mlmp_update_201110.pdf