With their marvelous interpretive-dance routines, complex social life, and delicious honey, honeybees are widely respected, but they’re anything but sweet to wild pollinators. In fact, a surfeit of honeybees is a big threat to our native bees and butterflies. [Read more…] about Honey Bee Keepers, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Last summer while working in the garden, I was startled when a fast-flying wasp dropped a plump pumpkin spider on the soil in front of me. The wasp landed, grabbed the spider, and wiggled backwards into a small hole I hadn’t noticed, quickly covering the entrance as if to say, “nothing to see here.” It was the first time I’d seen a digger wasp provisioning an underground nest. [Read more…] about Digger Wasps: Diverse and Showy Insects
To quote the French dramatist Jean Giradoux, “The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.” Flowering plants fill our summer fields and gardens, bring bright spots of color to our woods, and – since their arrival on the scene some 130 million years ago – have evolved along with animal life to become an essential part of the food web. [Read more…] about Flower Color: A Science Primer
While working around the home this summer, it is not unusual to notice the papery nest of a wasp tucked under the eaves, hidden behind a loose shutter, or placed in some other protected spot. While an encounter with this type of structure may temporarily disrupt a painting project or repair work, such a sanctuary is vital to the summer success of these familiar yellow and black insects, and should be left alone if at all possible as wasps play a role in helping to control the populations of numerous insects, spiders and other bugs. [Read more…] about New York Insects: Paper Wasps
Shortly before apple blossoms open and honeysuckle flowers emerge from their buds, queen bumble bees awaken from their winter dormancy and begin the chore of establishing the small colony over which they will reign throughout the coming growing season. [Read more…] about The Hardy Bumble Bee
To paraphrase Marvin the Martian, a cartoon character whose attempts to conquer Earth were always foiled by Bugs Bunny, “Zap first and ask questions later.” The little alien with the big Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator ray-gun was so jumpy that he zapped anything that moved. In the end, though, he never hit anything which could remotely be considered a threat. [Read more…] about Kill Your Bug Zapper And Do The World A Favor
As you swat away blackflies this summer, look closely; it may be that not all those flies are flies. Some of them might be tiny sweat bees, members of the Halictidae family, which gets its common name because some species will lick sweat from human skin. [Read more…] about Sweat Bees: Diminutive and Diverse
June 22-28 is National Pollinator Week and one of New York State’s important pollinator friendly species is Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.), a native essential for any garden seeking to attract and help pollinators.
According to legend, Joe Pye was a Native American herbalist who used local plants to cure a variety of illnesses including typhoid fever. For years, it was unknown if Joe Pye was a real person or a botanical myth, that is until research confirmed the plant’s name originated from the nickname of Joseph Shauquethqueat, a Mohican chief who lived in Massachusetts and New York in the 18th and early 19th centuries. [Read more…] about NY Natives: Joseph Shauquethqueat’s Joe Pye Weed
The old saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” has been a great comfort to me over the years, since I figure that means the road to heaven is paved with bad thoughts, which are usually easy to come by.
Since ancient times, we have built all manner of roads, highways, byways, boulevards, terraces, turnpikes, tow-paths, and bike paths. But given the astonishing pace at which our native pollinator populations are dwindling, it’s a critical time to blaze a new kind of road. A pathway, to be specific. [Read more…] about Pollinator Pathways Stamp Out Neatness