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Nature Scoop May 2020

Carpenter Bees on Native Milkweed
Native Plant Nurseries that I contacted randomly are allowed to stay open during the pandemic under the Agriculture section of the Stay at Home Orders. Check your nursery's website for availability and to see if they have special hours and other ways to shop safely. Here are some U.S. native plant vendors, and for more in Ohio, click here. There are also online native nurseries, such as Prairie Moon Nursery.

We can help save native bees by providing pesticide-free native plants that bloom from early spring until fall and by having natural nesting places in our yards. The plants provide nectar (fuel for flight) and pollen (protein for baby bees). Bees return to their nests every day and can fly only limited distances. A small bee may only be able to fly only 600 feet. For example, the Spring Beauty Mining Bee lives in a tunnel in the ground near its partner plant, and only comes out as an adult only when the plant is in bloom. Spring beauty pollen is the only kind of pollen their babies can eat. Larger bees, like Bumble Bees, can fly up to 3 miles. Leave bare spots (soil without mulch) and scrubby areas with leaf litter so ground-nesting bees, like Mining Bees, can dig tunnels for nests. Leave rotting wood (including firewood and snags) for tunnel-nesting bees, like Carpenter and Mason bees. Cut or break dead flower stalks down to 12-15" in late spring. These pithy or hollow stems are needed by tunnel-nesting bees, like small Carpenter bees. Here are important tips, including a link to bee plant lists by zip code.

See other tips to garden for butterflies, birds, hummingbirds and other wildlife on my website on the How Do I Do This tab.

Good news: A church interprets a scripture passage that refers to our responsibility for caring for Earth, and its members are committed to planting 1,500 trees. Be inspired.

Certify my yard. Stay safe and healthy. #InThisTogether

Toni Stahl, Habitat Ambassador Volunteer, Email; please retweet @naturescoopohio, website

Tips for Your Yard

-  Organic Lawn Care DIY: 5 weeks after using Corn Gluten (if we've had enough rain, if not - 6 weeks), over-seed weedy or bare areas with a pesticide-free, chemical-free grass seed, like TLC Titan, available at most home and garden centers; keep seed damp until grass is 2" high
-  Mow grass high (3-4 inches) so lawn shades out weeds
-  Let grass clippings fall into lawn to add nitrogen and sweep them out of the drain so they don't pollute our drinking water; grass clippings can increase carbon-storage in the soil by nearly sixty percent
-  Avoid pesticide use because it is harmful to children, pets, insects and birds
-  Some organic products are toxic to bees. See page 2 of the Xerces Factsheet
-  To control mosquitoes, put a 30-day Bti dunk in your rain barrel, even if it has a screen. Bti dunks (aka Mosquito dunks) are available at most nursery and hardware stores
-  Specialist bees can only feed the pollen of their partner plant to their babies: Plant Spring Beauty for Spring Beauty Mining Bees, Yellow Trout Lily for Trout Lily Mining Bees, Brown-eyed or Black-eyed Susan for Rudbeckia Mining Bees, Ironweed for Ironweed Longhorn Bees, Goldenrod for Goldenrod Mining Bees and scroll down to a prairie plant list with Specialist Bees marked with a yellow dot
-  Add movement to clean water in your birdbaths with a dripper or bubbler or add a water feature with fountain pump to attract birds
-  Track the Monarchs' migration north - it may take them a month or so to find your yard
-  Avoid using Miracle-Gro because it contains sodium; instead use compost or organic fertilizers, such as fish or kelp emulsion mixed in water for hanging baskets
-  Avoid using products that contain Neonicotinoids, which are infamous for killing bees, and switch to native plants, which don't require the use of chemicals
-  Add regionally native milkweed to your yard to help Monarchs. Avoid non-native Tropical Milkweed because it may trigger egg dumping where there are too many caterpillars on a plant, non-migration in southern areas and increased infection from OE (similar to the way people in a crowd spread colds)
-  Remove invasive Japanese Barberry and similar invasive plants (e.g. Burning Bush, Bush Honeysuckle) to help manage blacklegged ticks
-  Choose a hummingbird feeder that is easy to clean and place in shade. Clean hummingbird feeders twice a week (once if cool weather) with hot water. If dirty around feeding ports, use an old toothbrush to remove the mold and if the water looks milky, use diluted vinegar or dish soap (I use Dawn); then rinse very well so no residue is left that could make hummers sick. I use two feeders and alternate so hummers won't be out of nectar while I clean one. Use clear, fresh sugar-water solution (4 parts water to 1 part sugar); don't add red dye or honey because it is harmful. Hang a water moat above the feeder to discourage ants and keep the moat filled with fresh water; avoid sticky tape for ants because the hummer can get its wings stuck in it
-  When to plant safely? Google to find out when your area's latest recorded frost date was (in Ohio, 5/22)
-  How to create a wildlife friendly pond in your yard
-  Avoid using man-made bee houses because they attract disease, parasites, predators and invasive, non-native bees and invasive, non-native wasps
-  Keep cats indoors or on a leash and keep wildlife safe
-  Keep dogs on a leash from dusk until dawn to keep them from getting sprayed by a skunk, stomp your feet and flick the light on and off before going out
-  If you see a Honey Bee swarm, be calm because they are docile while looking for a new home; contact your State Beekeeper's Association to collect them (please don't spray them)
-  White-tailed fawns lie still in vegetation for their first month and have no scent. Their mothers stay away to prevent their own scent from alerting predators. Leave fawns alone unless they are visibly injured
-  What to do if you find unattended or injured baby wildlife
-  Injured wildlife? How to Find a Wildlife Rehabilitator by your address
-  Remove Invasive Dames Rocket and keep native Phlox. Dames Rocket has 4 bloom petals instead of 5
-  Bluebird houses: Transparent fishing line (monofilament) deters house sparrows from killing bluebirds and other cavity nesting birds in their bird houses, except that 20-lb is recommended instead of 6-lb weight

Nature News

-  Raising too many Monarchs inside may be causing more harm than good according to Monarch Joint Venture and Xerces Society
Healthy, Stress-Busting Fat Found Hidden in Dirt - Gardening is good for our mental health
Gardening Was One of the Physical Activities Associated with Better Sleep
De-Stress - While Helping Wildlife
Five Ways You Can Help Eastern Monarchs
Get to Know Your Backyard Birds - coloring and more
Environmental Education Activity and Coloring for Kids
Spring Ephemerals and Pollinators Short Radio Show
American Robin Song and Calls
Purple Martin Nestcam 2019 - scroll down to great video
Designing an End to a Toxic American Obsession - The Lawn
Support Queen Bumble Bees

Ohio Habitat Ambassador Nature Events

Please send your backyard conservation educational event with a link the month prior to the registration deadline (e.g. May 1 for June issue)
-  Garden and enjoy your yard while practicing social distancing

Other Ohio Nature Events

Please send your backyard conservation educational event with a link the month prior to the registration deadline (e.g. May 1 for June issue)
-  5/23, Annual Native Plant Sale, outdoors, keep social distancing, Wild Ones Columbus

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