This Thanksgiving season, let us give thanks for our yards and for the wildlife we conserve in them all year through. Give thanks for the comeback of the Wild Turkey, which was hunted nearly to extinction by the early 1900s. Give thanks to the Depart. of Transportation for creating and preserving pollinator habitats. Some people see native plants as unsightly once the blooms are gone and don't understand their benefits to wildlife and our environment, so they call to request that the areas be mowed. Spread the word to support the Depart. of Transportation's no mow zones.
Tropical milkweed is a controversial subject. According to Monarch experts, there are consequences for planting tropical milkweed where it is not native. 1) Monarchs may lay too many eggs, causing caterpillars to starve when all the leaves are eaten. 2) If you are not far north where winter kills tropical milkweed at the same time as native milkweeds, caterpillars feeding on tropical milkweed can be killed in a hard freeze because they aren't migrating. 3) When there are a lot of Monarchs in one area feeding due to the availability of tropical milkweed, more Monarchs can be infected with Oe (like people in a crowd spread colds). 4) Tropical milkweed is sold at big box stores labeled simply as milkweed, and it often has pesticides on it that kill the caterpillar. Please buy native milkweed from reputable native plant nurseries that do not use pesticides. Learn more about the effects of tropical milkweed from Monarch Joint Venture.
The rusty-patched bumblebee, an important buzz pollinator, was proposed for the endangered species list a week before eight bees from Hawaii were added. The rusty-patched bumblebee has declined 90%. This is the first time insects have been on the endangered species list. The listing will intensify the debate over the use of pesticides, including neonicotinoids which have been banned in Canada. Endangered bees are our canary in the coalmine. We should share this warning to stop using pesticides now, for bees and for our own safety.
Good news: The Cliff Swallow population has increased 200% in the last 25 years according to Ohio DNR because the birds discovered that they can safely build nests under man-made bridges and over water. Here is a photo of a beautiful Cliff Swallow building a nest.
- What to do if you spot a Coyote in your yard
- Make repairs to birdhouses in preparation for keeping bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches and other birds that roost nightly in them warm and safe
- Plant evergreens for cover near birdhouses and birdbaths
- Birds require water year-round. Keep water moving as long as possible. Then put in a heat element or replace with a heated birdbath you fill with a bucket
- Increase the number of bird feeders because birds increase food consumption as the temperature drops
- Save fall clippings of branches and twigs and pile them in a corner to create cover for ground-feeding birds, like dark-eyed juncos, tree sparrows and white throated sparrows
- Invasive woody plants stay green after most native plants have lost their leaves, so they're easy to see. Cut the plant at or near ground level and smother with cardboard. If the plant is particularly pesky, cover with black plastic
- Cover bare soil with leaves. Don’t dispose of leaves along stream banks because they will smother ground-cover plants whose roots are holding the soil in place. Thick mats of leaves provide a good insulating blanket for your perennial beds, but break them up before growth starts in spring
- As leaves decompose, nutrients seep into your soil, and the cover allows for greater water retention
- Disconnect your rain barrel, connect the downspout and position it so it carries rainwater away from your foundation
- Clean leaves from your roof gutter. Not only can clogged gutters cause water damage to your home, but they also release nutrients that harm our streams when leaves and leachate are washed into storm drains
- Leave plants standing until spring