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

BEETLES:

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: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/beetles.shtml

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.

Source: https://www.coursehero.com/file/p52khgvh/Beetle-pollinators-of-a-particular-plant-are-attracted-to-its-flowers-by-their/

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).

Sources: https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/massachusetts/state-insect/ladybug

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDu1yTb9NdI
Save the New York nine-spotted Ladybug

The nine-spotted Ladybug of New York is also in decline at https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/new-york/state-insect/nine-spotted-ladybug

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?

https://news.rpi.edu/content/2018/10/15/two-degrees-decimated-puerto-rico%E2%80%99s-insect-populations

BUTTERFLIES

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: https://libguides.nybg.org/c.php?g=654973&p=4597781

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

Happy Tonics a Nonprofit for Pollinators

 

23rain - Copy

Our Monarch Butterfly Habitat is now part of a larger Pollinator Habitat at Lac Courte Agriculture Research Station in Hayward, WI.

Photo copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

 

Another day in DC

Greetings Insectamonarca friends,

I am attending the North America Pollinator Protection Campaign in Washington, DC. Yesterday I worked on task force S.H.A.R.E., which means share areas reserved for the environment. The focus is on European honey bee and native bees. I wanted to expand the pollinators to include butterflies. Pollinators are many including beetles, ants, birds, moths, butterflies, moths and more.

The farmers and ranches at conference are from large agricultural acreage and the representation is slanted towards the large instead of including small agricultural states that have small farms of perhaps several acreas such as in MA, VT and other states.

Happy Tonics, Inc. and Central Massachusetts Arts and Agricultural Coalition are here to make sure that nonprofits that have smaller pollinator habitats and farmers that are smaller are represented.

I expect I will be giving input to S.H.A.R.E as we work towards digital APP and signage for habitats.

Today I am leaving conference early so that I can go to Smithsonian National Natural History Museum. I want to photograph butterfly exhibit and see Flight of the Butterflies.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

monarchanna

monarchanna

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly Dream Vision

Last night I had an uncanny dream. For years I have been working on behalf of the monarch butterfly, actually I do. My friend Sandy Stein and I were visiting what looked like a large vista that reached into the distance without end.  It appeared the land had once been used as a farm, but its relationship with the land went wrong. I somehow understood that the elder, in the dream, knew crops were in trouble in my home country because there were no pollinators.

monarchanna

monarchanna

The old gentleman that I really couldn’t visually see, stayed mostly in the background, but he was consciously  in my mind; I understood his intentions clearly. He knew of my work with the second largest group of pollinators in the world. The reverent elder was the owner of forests and fields that appeared to go on forever.  He made me to understand that 40 acres of land had been prepared for me and the pollinators.  I knew that he was giving me land for the butterflies. I was overcome, I could hardly believe my eyes, I felt so honored for my life’s work.

wild bergamot

wild bergamot

It was then, I felt him communicating, “I have admired you for being so tenacious on behalf of the monarch butterfly.”  He went on, “You have been teaching the people about the necessity of native habitat for the monarch and other pollinators. Many times you were all alone in your quest. I do know your dream and am giving this land to you for the butterflies.”

I was stunned when I realized  what he conveyed was real. I could look out into the distance and see the land was prepared for establishing a native pollinator habitat. I can’t tell you how honored and childlike I felt. I wanted to cry because someone really understood my heart and had made  it possible for me to have this  land for an  intended purpose.

When I asked,  “What will you do?”  He let me see vistas of forest that could be consciously and sustainably cut to grow more organic food for people and still have forests for wildlife and plants.

Realizing his truth, I could imagine that people might now listen and understand that we need to live in balance with nature. Could the time have come?

The dream was so beautiful that when I awoke I wondered if I had had a vision dream that gave me a glimpse into the afterlife.  I felt so blessed, humbled and longed to go to this place where I can live forever among the butterflies.

Swallowtail

Swallowtail

Discover the World of Monarch Butterflies

Mary Ellen's monarch copyright Cindy Dyer

Mary Ellen’s monarch copyright Cindy Dyer

Mary Ellen Ryall, naturalist and environmental educator, has written two children’s books on the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. An article, Bringing Butterflies Home, was published in the spring issue of Celebrate HOME Magazine.Come learn about the habitat, life cycle of the monarch and more at this Open the Public Free Event..

Ryall’s books and magazine will be available for sale. Some host plants for other butterfly species and milkweed seed for the monarch will also be offered.

Morning nature meditations

Monarch chrysalis extended near tomato plant. Looks to be same color as fruit.

Monarch chrysalis extended near tomato plant. Looks to be same color as fruit.

Before I begin this post, I thought you would want to know that the monarch butterfly caterpillar has changed into the next stage of its life. It is now a lime green chrysalis. I think it must of happened yesterday afternoon after the sun finally came out. The morning was rainy.

Monarch caterpillar classic J shape

I photographed a few shots of the caterpillar that just hung upside down for a day. It was cloudy out and a little cooler. I wondered if the caterpillar needed sun to give it energy in order to change into a chrysalis. Then the downpour came and I hoped the caterpillar would be safe. Rain drops can dislodge an adult monarch and cause it harm or death. I was concerned about the caterpillar. Would it be safe from the elements? After all it was hiding among tomato leaves and perhaps had enough cover not to experience the brunt of heavy rain pellets.

This morning was cool, a touch of fall crisp air. Dressed in a hoodie, I went outside to begin thanksgiving morning rituals. Old growth oak trees at the end of the driveway were whispering yes, fall is coming. They communicate a unique sound when the leaves move. It is different than summer serenades. The leaves resonate this truth.  As I stood on the back stoop for a few minutes, I heard hummingbird wings behind me. It wasn’t long before a female flew in front of me; I had a close encounter as I stood perfectly still. Evidently she decided I wasn’t a flower, even if the hoodie was pink. The hummer headed toward a moist colony of black-eyed-Susan and bright pink phlox. I think of my elder friend Phyllis DeBrot when I see hummingbirds. She loves hummingbirds and always sends me cards that have either hummingbirds or butterflies on cover.

I decided to walk out on the country road. It is very hilly; I figured it would improve my endurance if I start hill climbing. Yesterday I learned from Jack (brother-in-law) that Fitchburg is the second hilliest city in the country. San Francisco is number one.  We’re out in the country and what a hill it is for cars to get up my sister’s hill. Believe me, I am buying a four wheel drive vehicle when I return here to live starting in the fall. I have my eye on a used Suburu. There is a Suburu car dealer in Fitchburg. My brother-in-law swears by his. I heard that two other friends love their vehicles too.  The back roads here are narrow and I need a vehicle that I can trust.

Pink morning glory

Pink morning glory

My nephew’s morning glories are growing profusely at my sister’s. They appear to be illuminated from within. I imagine pollinators see the inner glow. Who is not attracted to radiating light when it beckons? Hope you enjoy the photos this morning. It is taking me awhile to learn my brother-in-law’s computer system and applications such as photos.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Moonglow

It is getting cooler in New England. Last night I choose to sleep on a couch in the living room instead of the open air  screened in porch. During the time of dreams, I awoke to the moon caressing me in light. I was thrilled to be loved by the moon. She was illuminating the front property and her healing light came right through the front windows. It reminded me of a story by Ray Bradbury. There was a girl who lived in a city, a place like Brooklyn. She was very ill. On a full moon night she somehow got her bed out to the street, where she could sleep with the healing light of the moon. I have always loved this story. When young I was always drawn to sleeping outside on full moon night when the sky was clear. Moonglow has always attracted me. When I sleep in moonlight, I always feel restored and I can sense happiness and well-being.

Day Journeys:

Jack and Ronnie placed an Aldo Leopold bench under a large maple tree out in the abandoned botanical gardens. It is near a trail through the woods. From here I can rest, meditate, and observe nature all around me. I see Joe Pye weed and other favorite native plants and trees. The gardens are going back to the wild. I can reclaim  some of these beds in time to introduce a butterfly garden, especially for the monarch butterfly. The changing flourishing beds provide landscape beauty where once botanical gardens abounded.

We took a ride to New Hampshire. Pinch me, it is only 9 miles away. At one time, my husband and I lived in Manchester, for a short stint. It is even more rural that central MA where my sister lives. There are state parks and hidden places everywhere to discover. I can hardly wait to make day trips. I love it because there are large mountains; I will be living once again near mountains and hilly areas.  I was raised in the foothills of the Adirondack mountains of Upper New York State. I can hardly wait to get to know the pristine rivers,  ponds, abundant lakes and water reservoirs once again in MA and NH. We stopped at the Cathedral of the Pines. It is a magnificent memorial that was founded by Dr. Douglas and Sibyl Sloane. Their son Sanderson Sloane and wife Margaret were to build a home there after World War II, but Sandy Sloane was killed when the B-17 bomber he was flying was shot down over Koblenz, Germany, in 1944. The memorial backdrop is a stunning view of Mount Monadnock. This mountain has  been climbed by more people than any other mountain in the world. The Cathedral was founded as an interfaith organization that is open and welcoming to all.

Later in the day, I took a stroll into the back woods, 40 acres, at my sister’s. There  are trails that lead into a pristine forest. A few years ago, central Massachusetts was struck by a blow down storm. It did extensive damage to the forest. Jack and Ronnie are slowly making a dent in cleaning up the trails. Along the weathered trodden way, I became reacquainted with a pine grove that I experienced in my youth. I used to sit within the younger white pine grove then and tune into the sounds of trees as they spoke to one another. The Pine needle soft ground was inviting; at times my friends would join me here in quiet reflection. I am not sure if they  sensed  the natural world around them. I hoped that they did. This is the world I knew, loved, and  lived in.

While out there this season, I discovered princess pine growing along the pathway and nearby woods. Another word for this special plant is running cedar.

UPDATE: My sister Ronnie told me today that running cedar or ground cedar is a different plant species that princess pine.

There is lots of hemlock trees and partridge-berry carpets the forest floor as a ground cover. The forest is shaded and high in moisture. I am looking for a boulder that is shaped like a table top. I hope to find one already placed at an elevated level; I want to use it as an alter for my rocks and special things. Sometimes I have noticed them on top of the stone fence that runs throughout the forest. They were placed there by property owners long, long ago. Then there are deposited glacier boulders throughout the forest. Some of these are so large that no human could move them. It is thrilling to discover them as I learn the forest once again.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Butterfly Corner

Ryall, M. E., 23 May 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner, p. 7

May 14 – What a day for butterflies. I watched a mother monarch butterfly fluttering low to the ground as she searched for milkweed. She located plants near my kitchen garden. I witnessed the butterfly laying eggs on tiny milkweed plants. When you look closely, one will notice that the butterfly tips her abdomen to the underside of milkweed leaves. More often than not, the air current is less windy close to the ground, making it easier for a butterfly to deposit eggs on tiny milkweed.  This wasn’t the only species of butterflies seen. There were Canada swallowtail, black swallowtail, coppers, fritillary, and Milbert’s tortoiseshell butterflies. Monday’s temperature was a balmy 82 degrees Fahrenheit sunny day, a perfect day for butterflies.

Mrs. Janie LaFave's kindergarten class, Shell Lake Grammar School, WI

Mrs. Janie LaFave’s kindergarten class, Shell Lake Grammar School, WI

May 17 – I was a guest speaker at Mrs. LaFave’s kindergarten class at Shell Lake Elementary School. Children love butterflies. Mrs. LaFave teaches students about monarch biology and the butterfly’s life cycle. One student brought in a deceased monarch to show me. Another student raised his hand and proudly told the class that he had raised a painted lady butterfly at home. I was amazed. He said that he fed the adult butterfly sugar water when it emerged as an adult butterfly. The students have such an interest in nature, be it butterflies, bees, or native plants. We did get a bit off topic when the class wanted to tell me personal bee stories. I found that of interest because bees are suffering a decline. It is wonderful that children are connected to nature and insects. Someday these very children will be the next generation to protect the natural world.

Volunteers met at the Visitors Center in Shell Lake. We talked about the Monarch Butterfly Habitat and ways we are working together to bring this rich environmental land based project forward in the 2012 season. Jim VanMoorleham is going to stain the signs that the Tech Ed. class made at Shell Lake School. Joan Quenan is going to buy some white vinegar to start eradicating invasive spotted knapweed. Yes, it is true. Vinegar kills the invasive species; however, it will kill everything around it too. We are not concerned with killing bird’s foot trefoil in area three along with spotted knapweed. Both plants are replacing native species.

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat is alive with crickets. We saw hundreds of monarch eggs on milkweed plants. Milkweed has finally taken off and there are milkweed plants throughout the habitat. All things point to a bumper crop of monarchs at the habitat this year. We will be marking plants and putting up a “Journey North” butterfly screened tent to view the life cycle of the butterfly. Visitors will be able to observe monarch butterfly conservation in action this year.

The plan is to replant a weeded area with a layer of wet newspapers and top soil from Bashaw Nursery. Thank you, Steve Degner, for delivering the enriched soil. We are getting ready to plant a Three Sisters Garden as a teaching garden. People will have an opportunity to learn about healthy organic native crops, corn, beans and squash. Native seed means that seed originated in the Americas. This type of garden allows nitrogen to be added to the soil to replenish good nutrients that corn depletes. The squash is a natural ground cover and holds moisture. Along with this, the group is planning to plant gourds, within the squash family. Hopefully these will produce future gourd bird houses for the habitat.

Stacie Theis interviews published author Mary Ellen Ryall

Hello Insectamonarca friends,

Many of you realize that I have now become a published author. It is all about the monarch butterfly. As executive director of Happy Tonics, Inc., I have been fortunate to stay “tuned into” the life cycle of the monarch. I have come to understand the risks, biology, host and nectar sources, environmental behavior and a list that just keeps growing.

Hope you enjoy the journey.

Stacie Theis interviews published author Mary Ellen Ryall.

Kristi’s Book Nook reviews my book about butterfly

New Ventures Garden Seminar

Kristi’s Book Nook reviews my book about butterfly.

Cassie and I exhibited the book and sold many copies at the New Ventures Garden Seminar at Northwood School, Minong, in March 2012. Cassie is the model for Sarah Reynalds, the girl in the book.

You can read the review at http://www.butterfly-woman-publishing.com

Enjoy Insectamonarca friends wherever you are.

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