Category Archives: Native Plants

CAR TALK WITH CHARLOTTE – LIVIN’ THE DREAM

Driving in the car with Charlotte while we sing and converse, there is never a dull moment. On a recent trip to Russell Orchards traveling along Rt. 133 in Essex –

Me – Look at that beautiful field of goldenrod honey.

Charlotte – Monarchs must live there Mimi (normal tone of voice). Then she shouts, Monarchs livin’ the dream in the goldenrod patch!

Kid’s brains are endlessly making wonderful connections. She learned that expression from her Bops (my husband Tom), I think. He is always saying thing like “we live in paradise,”, or “we’re living the dream.” It was just funny thinking about Monarchs in the context of living the dream in a field of wildflowers, but of course they are 🙂

GUIDELINES ON HOW TO RESPONSIBLY RAISE MONARCHS

The first guideline in becoming an excellent citizen scientist is to do no harm while trying to do good. Considering the spiraling downward numbers of the Monarch Butterfly population, this basic tenet has never rang more true.

A number of friends have written in the past month with questions about captive rearing butterflies and the new listing of the Monarch as an endangered species by the IUCN (International  Union for the Conservation of Nature) and by the state of California. The ruling by the IUCN, which is an organization based in Gland, Switzerland, has no bearing on rearing Monarchs however, that is not the case with the California ruling.

In June, a California court ruling opened the door for the protection of insects as endangered species, which now includes the Monarch Butterfly. It is unlawful to take possession of live monarchs, breed and rear them in captivity, and conduct other interventions including covering eggs, larvae, and adult butterflies with nets, and transporting Monarchs to different locations. Canada and Mexico also restrict Monarch handling.

The ruling is understandable. There are folks who are rearing Monarchs by the hundreds, thousands, and even tens of thousands in wholly unsatisfactory conditions, ignoring safe and sanitary protocols.

As goes California, so goes the rest of the nation. I am deeply saddened that it won’t be long before we in the rest of the country will also no longer be able to rear Monarchs even on the most modest scale.

READ MORE HERE

Monarch Chrysalis ready to eclose – native garden phlox (Phlox paniculata)

One of the strongest reasons for not rearing hundreds (or more) Monarchs in close quarters is the spread of the highly contagious parasite OE (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha).

“Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) is a debilitating protozoan parasite that infects Monarchs. Infected adult Monarchs harbor thousands or millions of microscopic OE spores on the outside of their bodies. When dormant spores are scattered onto eggs or milkweed leaves by infected adults, Monarch caterpillars consume the spores, and these parasites then replicate inside the larvae and pupae. Monarchs with severe OE infections can fail to emerge successfully from their pupal stage, either because they become stuck or they are too weak to fully expand their wings. Monarchs with mild OE infections can appear normal but live shorter lives and cannot fly was well as healthy Monarchs.” From Monarch Joint Venture

Simply put, the very best way to help Monarchs is to create pollinator habitats on whatever scale you can manage. Plant milkweeds native to your region, which provides food for the caterpillars.*  Plant native wildflowers such as New England Asters, Seaside Goldenrod, and Joe-pye, which provide sustenance to migrating Monarchs and a host of other pollinators. Plant annuals native to Mexico with simple, uncomplicated structures, such as single (not double) Zinnias, Cosmos, and Mexican Sunflowers (Tithonia), which will bring the pollinators into the garden and provide sustenance throughout much of the growing season, while the pollinators are on the wing.

Plants such as daylilies, roses, and dahlias are eye candy for humans. Keep your eye candy plants to a minimum and know that they are just that, eye candy. They do not help pollinators in any way, shape, or form.

A Monarch in the wild flits from plant to plant and from leaf to leaf when looking for a suitable milkweed plant on which to deposit her eggs. She is carefully inspecting each leaf, first scratching the surface with her feet, the butterfly’s way of sensing taste. The female will typically deposit no more than one egg or possibly two eggs per leaf or bud. When you see an image of a large cluster of Monarch eggs, you can be sure the female was raised in close quarters in captivity and is desperate to deposit her eggs. 

Recommendations from the Xerces Society:

How can I rear monarchs responsibly?

  1. Rear no more than ten Monarchs per year (whether by a single individual or family). This is the same number recommended in the original petition to list the monarch under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
  2. Collect immature Monarchs locally from the wild, heeding collection policies on public lands; never buy or ship monarchs.
  3. Raise Monarchs individually and keep rearing containers clean between individuals by using a 20% bleach solution to avoid spreading diseases or mold.
  4. Provide sufficient milkweed including adding fresh milkweed daily.
  5. Keep rearing containers out of direct sunlight and provide a moist (not wet) paper towel or sponge to provide sufficient, not excessive, moisture.
  6. Release Monarchs where they were collected and at appropriate times of year for your area.
  7. Check out Monarch Joint Venture’s newly updated handout, Rearing Monarchs: Why or Why Not?
  8. Participate in community science, including testing the Monarchs you raise for OE and tracking parasitism rates.

Monarch Butterfly newly emerged and expanding wings

Monarch newly emerged and sun drying wings

*Best milkweeds native to Cape Ann, in order of productivity: Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), and Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

 

THE MARVELOUS MAGNIFICENT MIGRATING MONARCH AT THE ESSEX LIBRARY!

Please join me Thursday, August 18th, at 10am at Essex’s T.O.H.P. Burnham Library for a free  all ages (5 plus) Monarch Butterfly event, The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch. To register, please GO HERE

I hope to see you there!

BEE PART OF POLLINATOR WEEK!

HAPPY POLLINATOR WEEK!

We can all lend a hand helping pollinators. 

The three best practices –

1) Plant a habitat garden for bees, butterflies, bats, hummingbirds, and songbirds.

2) Keep your home and garden free from pesticides, herbicides, and rodenticides.

3) Support local farmers and beekeepers by purchasing locally produced food.

Please join me tonight at the Salem Regional Visitor Center for a free screening of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly

A wonderfully early-in-the-season for our region batch of Monarch caterpillars feeding on Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), June 11.

PLEASE JOIN ME FOR A SPECIAL LIVE SCREENING OF BEAUTY ON THE WING!

TO REGISTER, GO HERE

For more about the Essex National Heritage Pollinator Week programs, go here.

SAVE THE DATE FOR BEAUTY ON THE WING FREE SCREENING EVENT!

Hello Butterfly Friends,

Super fun news to share and please save the date – Essex National Heritage is hosting a week of events for National Pollinator Week, which takes place June 20th through June 26th. We have been invited to present a LIVE screening and Q and A of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly on June 22, from 7pm to 9pm at the Salem Visitor Center.

This is a free event.

You can pre-register HERE, which is recommended as there is limited seating.

Essex National Heritage has planned many events for National Pollinator Week. As soon as I have more information from organizer Ryan Conary, I will post the complete schedule.

The Salem Armory Visitor Center is located at 2 New Liberty Street, Salem, MA.

HAPPY MAY!

xxKim

 

BEAUTY ON THE WING OFFICIAL SELECTION TO THE SANTA BARBARA FILM AWARDS!

Happy news to share – Beauty on the Wing is nominated for an award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival And we saw our first Monarchs this week, one at Good Harbor Beach flitting through the dunes and a second at Cox Reservation. There is TONS of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) emerging at Good Harbor Beach currently ❀


Milkweed emerging in May at Good Harbor Beach

At GHB, later in the summer

HAPPY EARTH DAY ON THIS MOST BEAUTIFUL OF EARTH DAYS!!

“There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.”  –Rachel Carson

Dear Friends,

It’s glorious outdoors today and I hope you have a chance to get outside.  See below for photos from my morning Earth Day walk, although I can’t bear to sit at my computer all day when it’s so gorgeous out and will head back out this afternoon to see what we see.

For Earth Day this past week I gave several screenings of Beauty on the Wing (thank you once again most generous community for all your help funding BotWing!) along with presenting “The Hummingbird Habitat Garden” to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. For over twenty years I have been giving programs on how to create pollinator habitats. People are hungry for real information on how to connect to wildlife and wild habitats and each year the interest grows and grows. It’s truly a joy to witness!

Last night it was especially rewarding to bring Beauty on the Wing to Connecticut’s Sherman Conservation Commission attendees. We had a lively Q and A following the screening with many thoughtful questions and comments. My gratitude and thanks to Michelle MacKinnon for creating the event. She saw the film on PBS and wanted to bring it to her conservation organization. Please let me know if you are interested in hosting a Beauty on the Wing screening.

Monarchs are on the move! The leading edge in the center part of the country is at 39 degrees latitude in Illinois and Kansas: the leading edge along the coast is also at 39 degrees latitude, in Maryland and New Jersey. Cape Ann is located at 43 degrees — it won’t be long!

Monarchs are heading north! Female Monarch depositing egg on Common Milkweed

Hummingbirds have been seen in Mashpee this past week (41 degrees latitude). Don’t forget to put out your hummingbird feeders. Dust them off and give a good cleaning with vinegar and water. Fill with sugar water and clean regularly once installed. The sugar water recipe is one part sugar to four parts water; never replace the sugar with honey, and never use red food coloring.

Happy Glorious Earth Day!

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Super surprised to see this mystery duck asleep on a rock. I was so curious and kept hoping he would wake up so as to identify. He at last lifted his head for all of ten seconds and then  promptly tucked back and went back to sleep. I’ve only ever seen Surf Scoters bobbing around far off shore in the distance. Skunk bird- what a cutie!

American Kestrel, male, too far away to get a good photo but a joy to see!

Beautiful, beautiful Great Egret preening its luxurious spray of feathers. An egret’s spray of feathers is also referred to as aigrette.

No Earth Day post would be complete without our dear PiPls – Mom and Dad foraging the wrack line this am, finding lots of insects for breakfast.

A seal’s life

BEAUTY ON THE WING IS ROCKIN’ THE PUBLIC TELEVISION WORLD!

Super great news update from my friend and American Public Television Vice President Judy. She shares that since our documentary premiered a month ago, Beauty on the Wing has been broadcast 276 times, reaching 48.95 percent of the UStv households. She thinks we will have even greater activity in April because of programming centered around Earth Day! We have received emails and messages from viewers around the country, many inspired to create a Monarch habitat.

With thanks and gratitude to our many generous contributors, without whose help this film would not have been possible.

To the lovely woman in Idaho whose name I think is Shelly – if you are reading this – I accidentally deleted your note but would be happy to advise you on how to establish a Monarch habitat at your field. Please feel free to email so we can connect. Thank you!

FOR NEW YORK, SAN FRANCISCO, AND LA FRIENDS AND FAMILY – THIS WEEK’S BEAUTY ON THE WING AIR TIME ON PUBLIC TELEVISION

Good Morning Friends! The following are this week’s showtimes for Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly airing on NY, LA, and San Francisco stations. Thank you for watching ❀

WEDWDT3 1 __W____ 2:30:00 2/17/2022 2/17/2022 New York 1 6.24 %
WEDWDT3 1 ____F__ 5:00:00 2/19/2022 2/19/2022 New York 1 6.24 %
WEDWDT3 1 M______ 9:00:00 2/14/2022 2/14/2022 New York 1 6.24 %
WEDWDT3 1 _T_____ 13:00:00 2/15/2022 2/15/2022 New York 1 6.24 %
WEDWDT3 1 ______S 15:00:00 2/13/2022 2/13/2022 New York 1 6.24 %
WEDWDT3 1 ______S 22:00:00 2/13/2022 2/13/2022 New York 1 6.24 %
KOCEDT2 1 _____S_ 17:00:00 2/12/2022 2/12/2022 Los Angeles 2 4.66 %
KVCRDT 1 ______S 16:00:00 2/20/2022 2/20/2022 Los Angeles 2 4.66 %
KVCRDT3 1 M______ 5:00:00 2/22/2022 2/22/2022 Los Angeles 2 4.66 %
WYINDT 1 __W____ 23:00:00 2/16/2022 2/16/2022 Chicago 3 2.90 %
KQEDDT 1 __W____ 5:00:00 2/17/2022 2/17/2022 San Francisco 8 2.14 %
KQEDDT 1 __W____ 23:00:00 2/16/2022 2/16/2022 San Francisco 8 2.14 %
KQEHDT2 1 __W____ 5:00:00 2/17/2022 2/17/2022 San Francisco 8 2.14 %
KQEHDT2 1 __W____ 23:00:00 2/16/2022 2/16/2022 San Francisco 8 2.14 %
KRCBDT 1 ___T___ 12:00:00 2/17/2022 2/17/2022 San Francisco 8 2.14 %
KRCBDT 1 _T_____ 21:00:00 2/15/2022 2/15/2022 San Francisco 8 2.14 %