Today, 24 September 2013, I was reinstated as Executive Director of Happy Tonics, Inc. a nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization and public charity. We are growing in MA and I needed to receive grant monies I apply for under our own umbrella. I received two grants thus far and first one I had to put under another nonprofit’s umbrella.
The nonprofit is handling many programs already in WI, including managing a Monarch Butterfly Habitat and collaborating with City of Shell Lake on widening Route 63, which leads into Shell Lake, going past the Habitat. Sandy Stein, secretary, will attend a meeting in Shell Lake to address widening of road right-of-ways that will affect the Habitat.
She will send a report after the meeting to keep me up-to-date. I have already been engaged with Shell Lake in requesting that the disturbed road right-of-ways need to be planted with native seed. If any of the hard-scape and landscaping is moved, than it is up to the City of Shell Lake and WI DOT to remove/replace what ever is infringed upon.
Be happy Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.
Ryan Conner, Happy Tonics Volunteer in Hayward, WI has a native habitat in his front yard. A few years ago, he decided to stop mowing. Bravo!
This past winter Ryan sent me some seed that he gathered from his own property. I am implementing a Wild Butterfly Habitat, on Ashby West Road, Fitchburg, MA. It is on family land and private.
RYAN’S NATIVE SEED:
Asclepias syriaca common milkweed
Desmodium canadense Showy tick-trefoil
Echinacea pallida Pale purple coneflower
Ratibida pinnata Gray-headed coneflower
Rudbeckia laciniata Green-headed coneflower
Solidago speciosa Showy goldenrod
I also bought seed packages for the following plants that were also scattered.
Nepeta cataria Catmint
Aguilegia canadensis Columbine
Artemisia caudatus Love lies bleeding
Artemisia tricolor Joseph’s coat
Monarca media Monarda
Ecinacea purpurea Purple conflower
Helanthus spp. Sunflower
I won’t look for instantaneous results. I have found that native seed sprouts when conditions are compatible to its growing needs. Sometimes seed can lay dormant for years before it emerges. We will see as time develops what takes.
In the meantime, I have put up a driftwood recycled birdhouse. This week another fanciful bird house for my sister’s grandchildren, a small shrine for for La Senora de Guadalupe and a wildflower wood-chime will be placed at the habitat.
My sister Ronnie already thoughtfully brought a chair up to the habitat for me. It is set in the cool of the pine grove. She also planted ground cover succulents in an old wooden log that had the center eaten out by some critter. Each touch we add will offer refuge to me. There is a reason for this. My life is centered on living a purpose driven life. It is busy with speaking tours, leading restoration gardens, implementing pollinator habitats, teaching environmental classes and writing my third book. I simply need a place of refuge where I can unwind and listen to the wind. Here I do ceremony for water and communicate with the Creator’s natural world, which renews me. I love it so.
Amelia, my niece was overhead saying to her brother and sister as they looked out the front door facing the expansive gardens and lawn, “It’s a dragonfly forest.” There were hundreds of dragonflies dive bombing mosquitoes and it did look like a dragonfly habitat. We often see them by the masses at sunset around the pool area when we have our dinner out at the picnic table. Honestly, there are no mosquitoes because of the dragonfly patrol. No need to spray here. I did get a photo of the red or rust yellow-legged meadowhawk (Sympetrum olcinum). We saw a twelve-spotted skimmer (Libfellua pulchella). The skimmer has a white abdomen and several spaces on the wings that are clear, with darker accented markings. It is rather large and noticeable.
Looking in a field guide for vernal ponds, I learned that the eastern box turtle is of special concern in Massachusetts. I feel fortunate to have a shell that my dog Tia and I discovered near the pond that was on the back side of our property in Lusby, MD. In December 2000, I carried the shell with me when I moved to Wisconsin. Once I was there, I learned that the turtle was a significant part of Ojibwa culture in the Great Lakes region. There is no such thing as coincidence, seeing as I had moved to Indian Country and would be studying with the Ojibwa at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC). I graduated from LCOOCC in 2003. You can read about my journey to the Midwest online at http://www.tribalcollegejournal.org/archives/8298
I was granted a Creative Writing Award from Tribal College Journal where the article was published along with other tribal college authors. I am thrilled that the prestigious Journal published the issue online for prosperity.
Continuing our woodland walk, Amelia and I saw many frogs. I saw a wood frog that wears a black mask across its eyes and has a yellow line that distinguishes this particular frog species. Frogs were not all we saw. There was cucumber root . My sister Ronnie told me what it was. Here is a photo of the plant. The upper set of leaves were growing through the beautiful ferns that exist within the woodlands.
The plant is unique because it as two separate sets of leave with berries within the top array of leaves that form a circle around the plant stalk. Ronnie also pointed out running cedar that grows near the far boundary of the property near the frog pond. . I have to jog my memory re: medicinal plants and look up both running cedar and princess pine. Something is nagging me about one of them being a medicinal plant.
On the walk down Ashby West Road yesterday, I came across lady slipper leaves visibly growing near one of my favorite grandfather boulders. I was really taken aback. There are at least eight sets of visible plants growing along the side of the road. I drove down the hill yesterday and Ronnie was able to be my eyes as we passed the large glacier boulder. Ronnie, being a plant expert herself, was able to spot the lady slippers. I love them because they are part of the orchid family and hardy enough to grow in our northern climate.
May 23 – Happy Tonics participated in the “My Secret Garden” event at the Comfort Suites in Hayward hosted by the Cable and Hayward Area Arts Council. The nonprofit’s theme was butterfly gardens. One of the highlights was showing Dakota Robinson’s story board that illustrates the migration route of the monarch butterfly from Mexico to Canada. The youngster started a petition to stop roadside spraying of herbicides and insecticides during migration season. Roads and rivers are the main travel route of monarch butterflies. Herbicides kill milkweed, the host plant and insecticides kill larva and adult butterflies. Many guests attending the garden gala; were familiar with the plight of the monarch butterfly and signed the petition. Others also knew about Shell Lake’s Monarch Butterfly Habitat and plan to come this summer.
May 26 – Mary Ellen Ryall and Dylan Hasbrouck attended a Destination Marketing Organization meeting, at Wild Rivers Outfitters, in Grantsburg. Dylan will be working with Happy Tonics this summer to help maintain the habitat. He is under Fresh Start’s umbrella which is building a house in Shell Lake. Dylan will also be in training to learn Internet marketing skills at the nonprofit’s Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, Shell Lake.
In the morning, I stopped at the habitat and did a walk through to see what was starting to grow. Milkweed is emerging and averages 2” to 6” tall.
One colony of plants already has a monarch egg on each leaf. This is promising considering how cold and wet the spring has been so far. Remember monarchs do not fly when it is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Monarchs return to Shell Lake about lilac time which is about now. Native June grass is already up. Prairie smoke flower is budding. Oyster plant is at the edible stage. Native shrubs and trees are flourishing and many are in flower including Juneberry, wild black cherry and chokecherry. Earlier this spring an Experience Works member Mike Kremer applied a good dose of compost and mulch to the trees and shrubs.
Remember to call in your first monarch butterfly sighting in Shell Lake. You will win a butterfly gift if you report the first sighting. Be sure to note day, time, your location, weather, and temperature as best as you can. Dial 715 468-2097 and leave a message if no answer. Someone will get back to you.
The male and female monarch butterfly will fly from Mexico to Texas. There they will mate and shortly thereafter die. The mother butterfly urgently needs to find milkweed to deposit her eggs on. This last act will insure the next generation of monarch butterflies. There are four generations that wind their way towards Canada. The fifth generation is the one that lives the longest and returns to Mexico in early fall. How does the butterfly know where milkweed grows?
The butterfly flits over a field or garden looking for milkweed. Watch the flight pattern and you may see a mother butterfly looking for a host plant. Plants have ultraviolet patterns on their leaves and flower petals making them visible to pollinators such as the monarch butterfly. Humans can’t see this but a butterfly can. A monarch uses a combination of visual and chemical cues to find milkweed.
Once a mother butterfly lands on milkweed, she uses sensory organs in her feet and head to make sure it is milkweed. A monarch may even drum on a milkweed leaf with her forefeet to be certain. The forefeet are located close to the head.
Notice that there are three eggs on the milkweed plant in the illustration.The mother butterfly carries approximately 200 eggs in her stomach. She touches the abdomen to the underside of a leaf and deposits an egg. The mother usually deposits only one egg per plant. There is a reason for this. It is probable that the first caterpillar to emerge from an egg will scout for other eggs. A caterpillar is able to defend its own food territory when there is no competition. Eggs have protein. Sometimes a mother butterfly is in a hurry and may deposit more than one egg on the same plant. This is known as egg dumping.
By depositing eggs on different milkweed plants, eggs have a better chance of survival if something goes wrong. There are many risks to milkweed including: Some plants may not be as hardy as others; a storm could destroy a plant; milkweed might be removed because a gardener thinks it is a weed; a land developer could clear cut a large track of land removing all native plants; farmers may plant monoculture crops, genetically engineered crops and may spray crops with pesticides.
There is a loss of approximately 3,000 acres of farmland each year to development. Roadside crews may use herbicides (ER-beh-syds) which poison milkweed, a plant that grows along roadways, one of the major corridors of butterflies. If there is no milkweed along the migration trail, there will be no monarch butterfly migration. This is why it is so important to let milkweed grow.
Happy Tonics Environmental Education Intern Tabitha Brown is a student at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College. She took the initiative to email the entire student body with permission from the college staff. Tabitha is also getting out the word out on her MySpace Blog So what’s up? She is recruiting for friends and students to Sign Up and Vote for Happy Tonics grant proposal at Brighter Planet for Climate Change Native Habitat and Community Garden in Shell Lake, WI. We need your votes at http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100
Our Morph Your Mind Environmental Education Program teaches about Colony Collapse Disorder and importance of native wildflowers as pollen sources for bees that need our help. Seeing Beyond Ourselves, we hope you too will help our friends the native plants, bees and butterflies and the crops that feed us. All these species are experiencing stress because of climate change. Help us make a difference in our hometown. We are a sustainable city but to plant gardens and maintain a Restored Remnant Tallgrass Prairie and butterfly meadow, we need funds to do so. We are grateful to Brighter Planet for this opportunity.
You are voting for species that cannot speak for themselves. Bless your hearts.