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Monarchs and Milkweed. Birds. Butterflies...
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Nature Scoop May 2019

Monarch Eating Swamp Milkweed
We can help Monarchs by planting the only plant that their caterpillar can eat: chemical-free, regionally native milkweed following these tips. For nectar plants, why not use plants that help other native butterflies survive? Use organic lawn and garden care, avoiding all 'cides, even organic. Plant late-blooming nectar plants to help Eastern Monarchs make their journey south in fall, like native goldenrods, asters, woodland sunflower, maximilian sunflower, late boneset, tall coreopsis and blue mistflower. Heart-leaved asters bloom really late in my yard. Non-native butterfly bush is invasive in some states and is not much help unless you take time to pluck off dead blooms daily so new blooms sprout. This constant deadheading will keep it in bloom into fall and may prevent it from spreading its seeds into the wild and becoming invasive.

I closely watch birds in my backyard, and have determined that they follow a path. They come out of my bird bath and go up into the Chokecherry tree, across and behind the leaves of the Spicebush, and then up into the tall Hackberry canopy tree rather than flying straight up into the Hackberry. Birds will go 10 times farther than a straight-line path to avoid crossing an open area. It protects them from predators because by following a zig-zag path, the birds don't come out long enough for an attack. Think in vertical layers when planting trees and bushes. This creates the pathways and tunnels they need, like those I discovered in my yard. Here are planting tips about how we can save resident and migratory birds in our yards.

Good news: The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge began in 2015. Thanks to the collaboration of organizations, there are now 1,040,000 pollinator gardens registered. The largest count came from National Wildlife Federation's Certified Wildlife Habitats (if you are already certified, your yard counted). We still need more. Be inspired.

Toni, Habitat Ambassador Volunteer, @naturescoopohio - please retweet, Please explore my website www.backyardhabitat.info


Tips for Your Yard

-  Organic Lawn Care: 5 weeks after using Corn Gluten (if we've had enough rain), over-seed weedy or bare areas with a pesticide-chemical-free grass seed, like TLC Titan, available at most home and garden centers; keep seed damp until grass is 2" high
-  Pull out weeds or spot-treat weeds sparingly with an organic product, only if necessary, such as Iron (a few brands are Whitney Farms Lawn Weed Killer Iron, Fiesta or Garden's Alive Iron X)
-  Mow high to shade out weeds (3"-4")
-  Let grass clippings fall into the lawn to add nitrogen and sweep them out of the drain so they don't pollute our drinking water
-  Swamp Milkweed top leaves look distorted in spring? Look for black Swamp Milkweed Stem Weevils 1/4 inch long - Scroll down to R. annectans for more info. Crush it in your fingers or hold soapy water underneath and grab for the Weevil so it will fall into soapy water. Look for holes in the stem where it lays eggs. Cut the stem off below and put it into soapy water. Put all in sealed bag for trash
-  How to create a wildlife friendly pond in your yard: Backyard Ponds
-  Add regionally native milkweed to your yard to help Monarchs, and 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 by 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
-  Avoid pesticide use
-  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
-  Avoid using Miracle-Gro because it contains sodium; instead use compost or organic fertilizers, such as fish or kelp emulsion mixed in water
-  When to plant safely? Google to find out when your area's latest recorded frost date was (in Ohio, 5/22)
-  If you see a Honeybee swarm, be calm because they are docile while looking for a new home; and contact your State Beekeeper's Association to collect them (please don't spray them)
-  Use dishwasher-safe hummingbird feeders or clean them regularly with dish soap and rinse well. If black around openings, use a recycled toothbrush to remove the mold. 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 and keep a water moat full above the feeder, and avoid sticky tape for ants because the hummer can get its wings stuck in it
-  Add movement to clean water in your birdbaths with a dripper or wiggler or add a water feature with fountain pump to attract birds
-  Put a 30-day dunk in your rain barrel, even if it has a screen, to control mosquitoes. Dunks are available at most nursery and hardware stores
-  Contact your Public Health Department to find out if your city does mosquito fogging and, if so, ask how to opt out. These chemicals kill beneficial insects, including bees and Monarch caterpillars
-  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
-  How to Find a Wildlife Rehabilitator for injured wildlife by state (Ohio's link is incorrect. See here)
-  Use transparent fishing line to deter house sparrows from killing bluebirds and other native birds in bird houses, except use 20-lb instead of 6-lb weight
-  Remove Invasive Dames Rocket and keep native Phlox. Dames Rocket has 4 bloom petals instead of 5
-  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
 

Nature News

Three Cheers for Milkweed
Follow the Monarchs Migration North - it may take them a while to find your yard
Native Plant Finder - Doug Tallamy and National Wildlife Federation
Can Yards without Native Plants Make Us Sick?
The Insect Apocalypse is Here - What does it mean for the rest of life on Earth?
Natural Landscapes Decrease Impact of Global Warming - and climate change
Expert Tips for Attracting Hummingbirds
2019 Monarch Conservation Webinar Series


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)
-  5/4, THE Plant Sale, Garden for Wildlife Exhibit, Necessary Natives and Milkweed Area, Civic Garden Ctr, Cincinnati
-  Reg now for 5/11, Gardening for Butterflies and Pollinators, Fee, Cincinnati Nature Ctr, Milford
-  5/19, 1pm, Bluebird Nest Box Monitoring and Purple Martin Workshop, Garden for Wildlife materials, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Ctr, CJ Brown Dam/Reservoir, Buck Creek State Park, Springfield
-  5/25, Annual Native Plant Sale, Garden for Wildlife exhibit, Natives In Harmony, Wild Ones Columbus, Columbus
 

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)
-  Now-6/2, Native Plant Sale at the Nature Shop, non-members entrance fee Cincinnati Nature Center, Milford
-  5/4, Native Plant Tour of Wild Ones Member's Yard, Wild Ones Columbus
-  5/5, Organic Veggie Herb Fruit Nut & Native Plant FUNdraiser, Sunny Glen Garden, Simply Living, Columbus
-  5/14, Special Film Event, Lucy Braun: A Force of Nature, Wild Ones Oak Openings Region, Toledo
-  5/15, scroll down to Glen Helen Assoc Annual Meeting, Catherine Zimmerman, The Meadow Project, Yellow Springs
-  Reg now for 5/31-6/2, 2019 Ohio Dragonfly Conference, incl Garden for Dragonflies, Fee, Rio Grande, Ohio


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