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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Published in Washburn County Register, February 8, 2012
News from Xerces Society, “In 2010, with support from the Monarch Joint Venture and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant, Xerces Society initiated a multi-state project to increase the availability of milkweed seed for large-scale restoration efforts in California, Nevada, Arizona, New México, Texas and Florida. Xerces is working with native seed producers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Material Program to increase the production of local ecotype native milkweed seed.” The reason for the collaborative milkweed seed project is because pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, are besieged with a threatened migration phenomenon.
Prior to Xerces Society milkweed initiative, Happy Tonics has been selling common milkweed seed since 1999. Milkweed is the only host plant of the monarch butterfly. The seed is offered in the Visitors Center/Store in downtown Shell Lake. The store reopens on Memorial Day Weekend. Out of season, milkweed seed is sold online through eBay. Several seed buyers from around the country are now donors of Happy Tonics nonprofit public charity. Some buyers have gone on to build butterfly gardens at schools and monarch butterfly habitats on their own property. It is good to know that monarch butterfly conservation is an ongoing environmental education act that brings positive results to help the monarch butterfly.
Cindy Dyer, VP Marketing, Happy Tonics, will have a one woman art show at the Horticulture Center, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, Virginia. The exhibit, “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” will run February 28 – April 29, 2012. If you wish to take a sneak preview of Cindy’s extraordinary floral and insect photography visit http://www.gardenmuseshow.com Her garden photography was also honored by Nikon camera in 2011. Here is a link to their Web page featuring Cindy’s garden photography tips at http://www.nikonusa.com/Learn-And-Explore/Photography-Techniques/gr35ffdt/all/How-To-Grow-Your-Garden-Photography-Skills.html
In summer 2011, Cindy photographed butterflies and native plants while visiting the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. We are working on a Field Guide – Monarch Butterfly Habitat. The publication will highlight the symbiotic relationship between native plants and pollinators including the monarch butterfly, birds and small animals.
Saturday, July 30- There were thunderstorms surrounding the valley in late afternoon. Water sisters arrived at the Hospitality House in Minong. We began by dressing up in skirts. Sandy Stein mentioned that when women wear a shawl and skirt it represents mountains and being close to Mother Earth. A skirt worn in ceremony is respectful and helps women remember that we are feminine energy and connected to Mother Earth. We put our sacred items together to carry them out to the sand dunes. I had on my glass water pendent that Worth Cooley-Prost had made for me. Sandy wore her medicine bag. It is good for women to have their very own medicine bag. We have several small beaded butterfly medicine bags made by an elder Marilyn Vig, Rice Lake, WI. I will exhibit and offer them for sale in September at our online store at http://stores.ebay.com/happytonics
While still at the house we witnessed a rainbow. This was a beautiful sign.
Then it started to lightly rain again as we walked to the sand dunes. Sandy Stein said, “Rain is good.” I responded, “After all we are praying for the water.” We felt blessed as we entered Sacred Space and the rain began to lighten up and then stop.
Sandy, Deborah and Godavari met the sweet fern for the first time that is now growing over the dune and into the site. I love this fern, years ago I put my intentions on the fern and wished that the fern would climb the dunes from the other side. Each of them smelled the plant and were joyous when they smelled the sweet fragrance having never smelled anything like it before. I reminded water sisters that we needed to be silent as we entered Sacred Space.
We put our individual sacred items on the blanket alter in the sand. Before we began the Nibi Wabo (Water Song) each of us added our pure water to the water bowl to marry the waters. We tried to smudge but couldn’t get a match to light the sacred sage; it was too damp. We each took a pinch of tobacco in our left hand. In turn each spoke their intentions of remembrance before beginning ceremony and added a pinch of tobacco to the basswood Two Headed Bear Dream Bowl handmade by Frank Galli. The bowl was made especially for Water Ceremony offerings. Then I gave a short talk on the observations of water to the sisters.
Message: Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer is one of the Ambassadors of the White Buffalo Family in Oregon. She is with them now and doing ceremony as we stand in circle. Worth Cooley-Prost is traveling from Arlington, VA to the Carolinas. Worth is standing with us in ceremony at the same hour where ever she is. I remembered Shelley Ruth Wyndham, Cape Town, South Africa, who asked that she be remembered each time we stand in Water Ceremony. She is with us in ceremony. Mother Earth is going through a Great Cleansing and weather is and will become more violent. We are to stand firmly grounded to the earth and hold any fear in our feet which is solidly planted in communication with Mother Earth. We are not to let fear rise up through our bodies. We are not to be afraid when great and turbulent changes occur around us. We are to know that Mother Earth is protecting us. We are the Water Walkers, water sisters and water teachers.As women we are called to protect water. We are not alone. We are here to grow in healing energy work as we band together all over the world. Each of us in our own environment is here to teach others not to be afraid and to help people cross over the rainbow road after a storm. We are here at this moment to personally adapt to Climate Change and its consequences. We need to learn what our agricultural plant growing zone is and may be in the predicted future. We need to plant appropriately while we look towards the future. Current plant zoning is changing. In Northwest Wisconsin instead of planting the same species of downed trees ( Birch, Red Pine and Jack Pine) of the last storm in Minong on July 1, we need to look at a zone or two further south and plant accordingly. We need to personally adapt and teach others to adapt. There is no sense in old programming of being alarmed when our immediate world is changing and negatively lamenting the changes. If we survive I believe this is sufficient enough to be grateful. The solution: Think positive because we are still here doing our work. Adapt! This is the message.
Then we sang to the four direction, using our birch bark clapping sticks. The clouds were getting black and thunder clouds came closer. After concluding the Water Song we ended ceremony sooner, packed up our ceremonial objects and headed back to the Hospitality House. Before we left the sand dunes, Sandy put down the sacred items she brought to the ceremony. These were a shell and rock. I left a tear drop shell in a special place also which was significant because we were blessed by rain during ceremony.
One of the observations I have noticed since I started working on water issues and Water Ceremony, with the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites, is that I am forever thirsty. Northwest Wisconsin experienced a seven-year drought . I am conscious of having a dry mouth and wanting to drink water.
NOTE: Parts of this state’s North Woods and the adjacent Upper Peninsula of Michigan are the only areas in the continental USA experiencing “extreme” drought. It’s the region’s most severe drought since the 1930s and its longest dry period since the 1950s, says Roy Eckberg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Green Bay, Wis. Learn more at http://www.usatoday.com/weather/drought/2010-06-24-drought_N.htm
I am grateful for all the rain in 2011 even though we have had to deal with strange, unpredictable and more frequent violent storms. Even the clouds have changed to forms I have never seen before. Now I keep a weather radio on.
I am secure in knowing that there is pure water at the artesian well in the woods where sweet water flows to the surface from deep within Mother Earth. What a happy woodlands it is that surrounds the artesian well. Even though the trip is long and I need to drive 60 miles round trip from Minong to Shell Lake and back, I am happiest when I am drinking this precious pure water.
After the Water Ceremony Godavari wrote, “Thanks so much, so very much, for having us at your place, especially right after the trauma of the storms, when it must have been hard for you to get ready. I like that it rained on our ceremony. In Siddha Yoga rain is auspicious (highly beneficial, a good omen) because it is a blessing upon the earth and its people. As you said, it is life itself. After our ceremony, I began drinking water with much gratitude, knowing we are blessed to have clean water on this part of the earth. And inside, I feel a purification beginning, which the water ceremony seemed to launch. Purifying me of anger and resentment, making space for greater love. So in a personal way too, I am grateful to you for leading us in honoring water, in honoring Mother Earth.
Note: Godavari means goddess of a holy river, and there is a River Godavari, as they call it there, near the Siddha Yoga ashram in India.
Worth Cooley-Prost says, “My part of Water Ceremony was brief and on the move, but held my Heart and I hope added something Good to the whole. My old (85 now!) friend Dot, who co-founded the Light Group in Kinston NC in the early 1970s, brought me a little container of water from there. (It used to be artesian well water, now it’s a mix of that and water from the Neuse River… anyway, Water from close-to-me Ancestors’ home since 1841 or so.) And our car smelled so wonderful with sage lit!
Mary Ellen Ryall is a Council Guide of the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites and Executive Director of Happy Tonics, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization and public charity. Ryall is the author of My Name is Butterfly published in 2011 by Salt of the Earth Press. The book will be available on Amazon shortly.
The fully illustrated children’s book gives testimony of why native plants are important for pollinators. The charming book teaches about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and its only host plant milkweed. Over the last eight years Ryall has planted milkweed at the sand dunes. Monarch butterflies flitted about the day of the Water Ceremony. This is another good sign that the monarch butterfly abounds in Minong in and near the sand dunes.
SUNFLOWER AND NATIVE BEES
Bees are the number one pollinator and butterflies are the second most important pollinator in the world.
Pollinators are necessary to pollinate flowers, crops and fruits and include native bees, butterflies, moths and bats. It is harmful to use herbicides and insecticides on lawns, farm crops, along roadways and in the garden. Insecticides kill larva and adult insects including bees and butterflies. Herbicides kill weeds often eliminating biodiversity of native plants that pollinators need to survive.
Without pollinators, many of the world’s crop species would disappear. This could include foods such as native squash, potatoes, tomatoes and pumpkins. Only the native bumblebee pollinates potatoes and the bumblebee is being used commercially to pollinate tomatoes.
According to The Xerces Society, Franklin’s bumblebee is already threatened in California. There are hundreds of native bee species in the United States. Bees need a place to live and they need healthy pollen sources. Won’t you make your garden pollinator friendly? In return, native bees and butterflies will delight you by visiting your garden.
I will be publishing the Chatbook over the next few weeks. Photos will be added later when I return to Shell Lake. I had first thought to publish this as a book but after talking with two readers, I have decided to publish the Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book separately. The text with photos will be published on Insectamonarca’s Blog.
A few years ago, the author Mary Ellen Ryall witnessed and photographed the birth of a monarch butterfly in her gardens in Minong, Wisconsin. The photographs are a witness to this mysterious event and depict the monarch butterfly life cycle and the relationship of pollinators to native plants.
The Xerces Society has determined that the Monarch’s migration as “an endangered biological phenomenon.” In NOVA’s film, “The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies,” Lincoln Brower, Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology Emeritus, University of Florida, states that no one knows what that threshold is. He has observed the Mexican Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary over many years.
Brower has seen a shrinking habitat because of illegal logging. Monarch butterflies in Mexico have notably declined compared to when the wintering monarchs were first discovered in the Michoacan Mountains in 1974. The beloved international butterfly faces many threats throughout its migration and it is imperative to save the migration.
Within the pages, butterfly terms are highlighted and Spanish words for the monarch’s life cycle are included in titled pages. Do you have a butterfly garden? Would you like to grow milkweed for the monarch butterfly?
At the end of the Monarch Butterfly Chat Book, you will find a glossary of butterfly terms; works consulted; where to buy milkweed seed; explore other butterfly organizations; and books and Web site links for further butterfly studies.
I won’t post the end of the book or photos until I have the whole project published on the Blog first.