Butterfly Corner

Ryall, M.E. 20 June 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner.

ImageJune 9: Amber Nagel, Muncy, PA, reports that her daughter Emilie came across a butterfly on her walk back to the family car after the Memorial Day parade. The butterfly took quite a liking to the youngster and spent about 10 minutes resting on her finger. Emilie was very excited and had a hard time leaving the butterfly behind, once she reached the car (as did he since he kept circling around her before flying off). Emilie has researched to find more information about the red-spotted purple butterfly (Limenitis a. astyanax) and hopes to see more of them over the summer, around her little butterfly-station she made. Her mother wrote that Emilie is a Girl Scout and has started a butterfly project with her young friends. Every time one of the girls discovers a butterfly, she excitedly calls and reports the findings to Emilie.

June 13: Land and Water Conservation Department, Shell Lake, made a visit to Northwood School, Minong. An agency representative met district school administrator Dr. Jean A. Serum and a volunteer parent Shelby Renoos-Ausing. It turns out that the site chosen for a butterfly habitat does receive water that seeps naturally into the ground from the sloped driveway. The land is normally dry, sandy, and a good site for a prairie type setting. There are two ways to implement the habitat. One is to plant a seed base in the fall, before the first snow. Butterfly garden perennials can be added in early summer and purchased through Land and Water Conservation Department. We learned that seed companies may be receptive to donating seed for a school conservation and environmental project. NorthStar Community Charter School has the ability to do soil testing beforehand to provide gardeners with an idea of the soil makeup. There are two AmeriCorps personnel that will assist with the new environmental education project. Visit the website to learn more about going green at Northwood School District at http://www.northwood.k12.wi.us/se3bin/clientschool.cgi?schoolname=school571

ImageJune 16: The Flea Market at the habitat took place from 8 am – 10 am. It was a cloudy day and good for photography. There were many small European skipper butterflies sleeping in the tall grasses. It was a perfect day to do photography because it was overcast. This is one reason the butterflies were not out and fluttering about. There will be no Flea Market on June 23.

June 23: Join us for the National Bee Count at 10 am. Meet at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat at 9:30 am to learn about bumblebees and other native bees. Let’s see who’s buzzing at the habitat. Reports and photographs will be submitted to The Great Sunflower Project and Pollinator Organization at http://pollinator.org/npw_events.htm#wi  Bring along a camera if you have one. Do you have a magnifier? Sometimes it is easier to spot pollen on bee legs and body with a magnifier. Bring a lawn chair. Water will be provided. Register at 715 466-5349.

ImageJuly 4: Happy Tonics is celebrating the holiday. We plan to sell framed small fine art watercolor paintings on July 4, at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat, throughout the day, providing it is not raining. Happy Tonics received a large donation of fine art in 2012. This is an opportunity for the average citizen to take home a real painting. The nonprofit is also hosting its first artist sponsored exhibit on July 4. Joe and Jacki Valdez, Hayward, WI, will be displaying and selling their wooden and colorful butterflies. Butterflies are mounted on posts or can be nailed to a tree or building. The butterfly colors are vibrant and sure to please a crowd. Be sure to stop by. The National Butterfly Count will take place: 10 am to 11 am and 1 pm to 2 pm. Sign up beforehand at 715 466-5349. Happy Tonics will supply materials for recording. Meet us at the habitat at 9:30 am for a short talk and photos on butterfly species. Bring a lawn chair. Water will be provided.

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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.

Butterfly Corner

Published by Washburn County Register, Shell Lake, WI, 16 May 2012

May 8 – Northwood School, Minong, WI. I met with Shelby Ausing, parent of students at Northwood School, Josh Tomesh, principal, and Jean Serum, Administrator. The school is implementing a Butterfly Garden on school property.  I chose the site based on a gentle sloped terrain. Property has native hazelnuts, chokecherry, and Juneberry growing naturally in the background near red pines. The open sandy land is visible from Route 53. Land base is between ½ acre for restoration and up to 1 acre for total habitat. It flanks the school entrance driveway and parking lot. The habitat will be within easy access for students to walk to from grade school and charter school. The habitat will be used as an outdoor classroom.

While walking the site, I pointed out two native wild strawberry colonies; pussy toes, host plant of painted lady butterfly; and violets, host plant of fritillary butterfly. Minor invasive spotted knapweed was evident and will need to be eradicated. The area has been mowed, which will be discontinued to allow native habitat to emerge. Happy Tonics will work in liaison with the school. We will advise with conception, landscape design, planning, planting, and maintenance. Northwood School is an average of 8 miles, round trip, from my home in Minong.

May 9 – JoAnn Flanagan, Oregon, OH, reports, “Saw several monarchs today down at the state park. Had the binoculars out – biggest week in birding there. People from over 47 states in attendance.”

May 10 – Sophie Belisle, Shell Lake, called in the first monarch sighting for Shell Lake. She has followed the monarch’s arrival in Shell Lake for two years.  She received a jade butterfly ring, metal butterfly book mark, and My Name is Butterfly, as gifts for her participation in this year’s monarch tracking.

Mike Carpenter, habitat caretaker, has the shrubs weeded. Open space was created around them.  This will allow them to be visible from Route 63. A layer of wet newspaper and mulch will be added around the shrubs. Residents can use the same technique to kill weeds and allow air to get around shrubs and trees.

May 11 – I saw my first male monarch today. He looked like he was in good shape. Milkweed is up in Minong. Mother butterflies don’t need much, only newly emerged milkweed to lay eggs on. Later in the afternoon, I saw a female monarch searching for milkweed. She will tap the leaves and taste the plant with feet to determine if it is truly milkweed.

Mike Jensen, Lampert Lumber, in Spooner, donated building materials for a garden shed, approved by City Council last fall. Happy Tonics, through a grant from Wisconsin Environmental Education, matched 50 percent of the donation. Bob Forsythe, Technical Education Department, and students at Shell Lake School are building the shed. We are thrilled that Mr. Forsythe and students took the project on as community outreach. To learn more about Lampert Lumber Community Giving visit http://lampertlumber.com/about/community-involvement

Butterfly corner

Ryall, M. E. (21 March 2012). Butterfly Corner. Washburn County Register, p. 11.

Marlene Darmanin, with my book bound for Viwa Island, Fiji

Marlene Darmanin, with my book bound for Viwa Island, Fiji

March 12 – Michele Darmanin, Sydney, Australia, spearheaded a project to donate books to start a school library on the remote island of Viwa Island, Fiji. Michele and her husband visited the island in 2011. Michele explained they traveled by two boats to get to Viwa. In March 2012, she made a request via an Internet writers group. A Google search documented that monarch butterflies do indeed live on Fiji.  I mailed Michele a copy of my book, My Name is Butterfly. It is known that monarchs often land on ship when they are far from land. Most likely a passing ship made it possible for the monarch to take up residence on Fiji.

March 14 – According to Journey North, “Here they come! Monarchs are leaving the overwintering sites and appearing on the breeding grounds to the north. According to our observers, they may already have spread more than 1,000 miles northward. During spring migration, female monarchs leave a trail of eggs behind as they travel.”

Cassandra Thompson model for My Name is Butterfly

Cassandra Thompson model for My Name is Butterfly

March 17 – The Spooner Garden Club and the Spooner Agriculture Research Station sponsored the Eighth Annual New Ventures Garden Seminar, Northwood School, Minong. Over 240 gardening enthusiasts attended the all day seminar. Cassie Thompson, Northwood School and Dakota Robinson, Shell Lake School assisted Happy Tonics with displays. Cassie is the model for My Name is Butterfly. She participates in High School Forensic Class. Cassie is a public speaker, winning a state award in 2008 for the environmental talk Trumpeter Swan. She is boning up on her skill to hopefully compete at state level. The next competition is March 29 in Spooner. This will be the deciding event.

Dakota Robinson with Monarch Butterfly Migration storyboard and petition

Dakota Robinson with Monarch Butterfly Migration storyboard and petition

Dakota brought a petition to stop mowing during migration. She worked on the environmental project to earn a Silver Badge, which she won in 2011.   Over 30 people signed the petition at the event. Three individuals at the event told me they had seen monarch butterflies, in Hayward, Ashland, and Superior. How can this be? The milkweed isn’t even up yet.

Milbert's tortoiseshell butterfly

Milbert's tortoiseshell butterfly

March 18 – I saw a Milbert’s tortoiseshell. Perhaps the ladies at the seminar mistook the tortoiseshell? Tortoiseshell butterflies overwinter and could fly about on a 70 degree F. day. Monarchs do not overwinter. I didn’t notice the tortoiseshell’s front wings with color. I only saw the dark body tones with orange outer wings on hind wings as it flitted by. Is climate change impacting the timing of migration? The unusually warm weather in March is triggering migrating birds back to our area. Some male robins arrived last week. This week I see more males setting up display areas. This is their way of inviting females to choose a partner. Butterfly news was reported to Mike Reese, Wisconsin Butterflies Organization at http://wisconsinbutterflies.org/butterfly/sightings. My listing is posted on the link.

LCOOCC Logo copyright LCOOCC

LCOOCC Logo copyright LCOOCC

March 23 – 2nd Annual NW WI Regional Food Summit will be held from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, in the auditorium and outside. Happy Tonics will be exhibiting and distributing common milkweed seed. My Name is Butterfly will also be offered.  Break-out sessions: Farmer, Buyer, and Coop Perspectives; Entering the Local Food Arena for Community Members – Why, Where, and How. Keynote Speaker: John Peck, Family Farm Defenders. Topic:  Food Sovereignty.

According to Dr. Lincoln Brower, Monsanto’s Roundup garden pesticide and Roundup Ready Crops, such as GMO corn and soy, contain glyphosate. The impact of glyphosate has been linked to environmental and pollinator decline including monarch butterfly.  Roundup Ready crops are planted most frequently in the Midwest. Mexico, the mother country of corn, has also switched over to Roundup Ready crops and GMO corn seed.  It has been documented that the 17 year decline in butterfly population is directly related to Roundup Ready pesticide and GMO crops that have the pesticide in their DNA. Mind you, this is not the only cause of monarch butterfly decline. Development and roadside cutting during migration and lack of the native host plant, specifically milkweed, also play a big role in monarch decline. Source:  Insect Conservation and Diversity, March 2011.


Learning experiences from Eleventh New Ventures Gardening Seminar

March 19, 2011, Northwood School, Minong, WI, USA

Approximately 200 avid gardeners attended the event. They came from Duluth, MN, Rice Lake, Trego, and Hayward, WI to name a few. One speaker especially caught my attention. Francois Medion, is a French gardener who worked for many years with Paris and United States chefs. He grew vegetables and greens for restaurants. He is a gardener who believes in planting edibles into the landscape. For example, you can pair container cabbage plants near cedar and pine. Nasturtiums can be grown in containers to brighten dark corners which are mostly planted in evergreens. Medion suggested the following and I have personally eaten all of these species:

Edible flowers for garnish and salads: Sweet violets, Anise hyssop, Borage and Nasturtiums.

Edible wild plants: Oyster-leaf, Purslane, French and blood sorrel, leeks and fiddlehead ferns. NOTE: 2/1/2012. I don’t remember eating oyster-leaf but feel certain the speaker spoke of plant.

Edible roots: Evening primrose, Jerusalem artichoke

For the third year, Happy Tonics exhibit drew many visitors who were interested in the monarch life cycle. For the first time this year, gardeners told us that they are now growing common milkweed. Some attendees stated they also grew other species of milkweed. It was heartening to learn that in 2011 more gardeners are incorporating butterfly gardens to welcome the monarch butterfly and other pollinating species. A few visitors spoke of their experiences with the swallowtail butterfly, yellow and black species. Others told of sightings of Luna and sphinx moth.

Cassie Thompson, eighth grade student at Northwood School, Minong, assisted us at the Gardening Seminar. She is a long time advocate for the monarch butterfly. For years, Cassie has been raising milkweed on her property. She has established a colony of common milkweed to welcome the monarch butterfly.

As an exhibitor, Happy Tonics sold common milkweed and native crop seed. I spoke to visitors about crops including beans and corn that also has wild relatives. The purpose of wild species is to keep domesticated native species hardy. Wild relatives insure biodiversity of species. Happy Tonics buys seed from Native Seeds/SEARCH, a native seed company, from Tucson, Arizona. Seed is gathered from the Tarahumara, Hopi and Navajo tribes. Native heirloom seed is drought hardy and is better able to survive Climate Change.  We have had great success with native seed. In 2010, we grew a Three Sisters Garden at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. The garden was captured on Discover Wisconsin TV. Diane Dryden, Board Member of Happy Tonics, taught the film crew about the concept of growing a native garden.

After exhibiting at the New Ventures Garden Seminar for the third year, we are learning that gardeners are actively doing their part to help pollinators by planting butterfly gardens into their own landscapes. This is good news because we need to create a floral corridor across America in order to protect pollinators. We need to plant biodiversity of nectar and host plants. Loss of habitat is so severe that the USDA and Xerces Society have determined that farming practices of using pesticides and planting only monoculture crops have harmed pollinators. We need to reestablish native prairie and pollinator gardens across the country.

In April, our online stores reopen.  Visit Happy Tonics web site at www.happytonics.org to order native seed for crops and monarch butterfly.

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