Wavyleaf Basketgrass - "Weed from Hell"

I pulled some wavyleaf basketgrass this morning. "So what," you say.  In fact I first noticed this weed last year but wasn't particularly concerned until I learned more about it.  This is a highly invasive alien weed taking over our woodlands. It is new to our area and extremely difficult to eradicate once established.

I have been finding it scattered in my garden this summer. If you don't know it and pull it -- it will get worse each year as it's a perennial. At a recent course at the National Arboretum our instructor referred to wavyleaf basketgrass as "the weed from hell." It joins the ranks of other invaders like mile-a-minute which can grow more than a foot a day. Or stiltgrass which is now almost everywhere in our area, including natural areas. Commonly planted shrubs that are alien invasives include the Japanese barberry and the burning bush. It pays to know invasive plants so you can pull them out before they take hold in your garden/lawn. This protects nearby natural areas. Please share this information as most people are oblivious to this very serious environmental problem. Go to mdflora.org for more info on invasive plants for our area (Maryland Native Plant Society).

Wavyleaf basketgrass pulled from Merikay's garden.

Wavyleaf basketgrass pulled from Merikay's garden.

Small areas of wavyleaf basketgrass can be handpulled. Roots of pulled plants should be hung to dry before disposing so as to kill the plant before putting it out in the county recycling.  I would not compost it on site.  Plants with seeds should be double bagged and disposed or burned. Large infestations might require herbicide applications which is why is important to share this information and get these plants pulled before they spread.

I'm posting some photos and info from Wikipedia: "Accidentally introduced into the United States in Maryland and Virginia, this species spreads quickly and is becoming extremely invasive in forested natural areas in the Mid-Atlantic region across numerous counties in Maryland and Virginia.

The species was first reported in Maryland in 1996, growing around the Liberty Reservoir area and the northern section of the Patapsco River in Howard County. The grass spread quickly into connected natural areas in Baltimore and Carroll counties. By 1999 it was identified in Montgomery County at Wheaton Regional Park.[16] It had crossed into Virginia by 2004 where it was found growing at a 80-acre site in Shenandoah National Park, and in a 20–30-acre site at the Fraser Preserve along the Potomac River in Fairfax County.[17]

Once a population has become established, complete eradication from a site has proven to be extremely difficult due to a long-lived perennial life cycle, a long seed germination season (April–November), and considerable seed mobility of the species."

The photos below show the wavyleaf seeds and an infested Maryland woodland where the native groundcover has been replaced by this invasive.

Phillips Wharf Environmental Center

After our tour of Poplar Island we all stopped at the nearby Environmental Center on Tilghman Island where we were able to learn more as we saw and touched many of the creatures that inhabit the Bay.  Click on the photos below from Natalie Reineke to see more.

Photo of Merikay and Jeff Smith taken by Heidi Hemming

Photo of Merikay and Jeff Smith taken by Heidi Hemming

Jeff and I also stopped by the historic town of Easton and visited the museum and garden there.  Photos below.  We were disappointed in the new historic museum as they have reduced the number of displays significantly.   They hired a national museum display firm which has (to our eyes) destroyed what was a marvelously complex display created over decades and showing hundreds of priceless items of local history.  

Restoration - post by Heidi Hemming

Heidi Hemming (center) with Lucy and Jeremiah Savage on Poplar Island, July 21, 2017

Heidi Hemming (center) with Lucy and Jeremiah Savage on Poplar Island, July 21, 2017

Who knew that sea horses reside in the Chesapeake Bay, that clams get all the nutrients they need just from the water in which they live, or that it is possible to rebuild an island? We learned this and more in our day at Poplar Island on July 22nd. As Latter Day Saints, we throw around the term "restoration" quite a bit. But what does it really mean? Well, in the instance of this small Chesapeake Bay island, it is setting to right the environmental wrongs of the past couple of centuries.

Back in the day, Poplar Island was somewhere around 1100 acres. But settlers in the 1800s cut down all the trees (started a black cat farm too, but that's another story). Without roots to hold soil in place, the island washed away to a mere 5 acres (or was it 3?) in the 1990s. Enter environmental groups and the Army Corps of Engineers. Drawing on new scientific and engineering knowhow, people are using dredge soil from the bottom of the Chesapeake to create what will eventually be a multi-eco system nature preserve for the many wild creatures that inhabit the region. Our tour guides showed us how the project is unfolding in stages, recreating wetlands that include hand planted grasses, as well as forests. They also assured me that the funds to make it happen are already locked up. When the workers pack up and leave, even the roads will be seeded.

Aside from the audacity of the project, probably the thing that I found most heartening was its gaze to the future. This is restoration, but not really for us. The end date is so far out, that Poplar Island is a gift to our children, and hopefully our grandchildren. Tours have to be booked way in advance, but if you haven't been, it's worth your time.

Click on photos below to see a slideshow from Heidi.  The first is a container with thousands of small oysters being grown for aquaculture/restaurant use.

 

 

Sunflowers

From McKee - Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Maryland

From McKee - Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Maryland

Sunflowers are a great addition to any sunny garden:  attractive to us and to pollinators they also provide food for birds and other creatures.  

Most helianthus or sunflowers are native to North America (67 of the ~70 species known). The common name, "sunflower" typically refers to the popular annual species Helianthus annuus, or the common sunflower, whose round flower heads look like the sun.  For a fantastic view of 9 large fields of sunflowers in bloom, visit the McKee - Beshers Wildlife Management Area in late July.

Click below for a slideshow of McKee-Besher sunflowers.

 

 

Poplar Island

A group of ten of us took a tour of Poplar Island on July 21.  We took a boat from Tilghman Island, a distance of two miles.  Some of the island's fascinating history is recounted by Peter Bailey who lived on the island. Read his account here:  https://www.tidewatertimes.com/PoplarIslandReborn.htm  

We tent camped overnight at Tuckahoe State Park but the weather was so oppressive that enjoying the nearby Adkins Arboretum and trails was challenging.  We did enjoy our time together anyway, particularly the kids who were able to interact with a turtle, toad, and insects.

Our island tour was better than expected since we were moved along the island in a cool bus with frequent stops and tour guides to explain the island's history.  Since being settled in 1626 the island has been used as a plantation, farm and fishing village, British campsite in 1812, black cat fur ranch, and as a resort for wealthy democratic politicians including FDR.  After nearly disappearing from erosion, the island is being recreated as a zone of natural habitat using sludge dredged from the shipping lands of the Bay.

Since its reconstruction with dredged material began in 1998, Poplar Island has grown from about 4 acres to more than 1,200 acres with a total of about 1,700 acres expected.  Half of the island's acreage will be wetlands and half wooded uplands. According to wikipedia, the project will use 68 million cubic yards of dredged material protected by 35,000 feet of containment dikes, built with 75% federal funding and 25% state funding. Only "clean" material, dredged from approach channels, is being used on Poplar Island. The Poplar Island restoration project will not use material dredged from close to Baltimore, which may be contaminated with heavy metals.

The island is the home of approximately 175 different species of birds, including terns and osprey. More than 1,000 diamondback terrapins have been reported hatching annually on the island in recent years. Besides giving public tours, other efforts are made to connect people with this project.  Local schools can take one of the young terrapins to raise for later release to the Bay.  Boy and Girl Scout troops have made and installed blue bird and other bird boxes on the island.  Volunteers are also needed for certain planting projects.  

Thanks to Megan DiFatta who set up our tour and was one of our guides.  To schedule a tour contact Megan at mdifa@menv.com or call  410.770.6503 (office).

Click on photo below to see slide show of camping at Tuckahoe State Park and tour of Poplar Island.

Parsley, dill, carrots, fennel -- plant to share

They're not just delicious to us -- these plants in the carrot family are great hosts for butterfly caterpillars including these of the black swallowtail.  This photo was taken by George Willingmyre who says:  

Encourage Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars to visit. Just plant some parsley in a pot or in the ground. We had planned to eat the parsley we had planted in the attached image, but don’t think we will after seeing all the caterpillars there. Here is a nice story about their life cycle http://www.pbase.com/rcm1840/lifecycleofblsw  The site says these caterpillars like host plants in the carrot family such as dill, parsley, and fennel.

Native Plant Highlight - Ferns

Click above to see photos from Fern Valley, a native plant collection at the U.S. National Arboretum.  At a half-day training on fern ID by Dr. Sara Tangren I learned a simple but helpful trick for selecting the best ferns for a home garden.  Ferns tend to be either clumping or colony forming.  If you want dense cover in a shady area that will keep out weeds, a colony forming fern like the Ostrich fern is great.  Clumping ferns like the evergreen Christmas fern are best mixed with other shade plants.  They won't spread and compete with their companions.

Fern Valley was created in 1959 by members in local garden clubs who rescued native plants being destroyed by new development in areas such as Tysons Corner in Virginia.  The National Capital Area Federation of Garden Clubs in collaboration with the Arboretum have created a naturally wooded area underplanted with native wildflowers, ferns and shrubs along a stream valley.  Plants are placed in a natural setting to represent plants of the Piedmont, Atlantic coastal plain, Southern mountains, and lowlands.  

A fern is a vascular plant that reproduces by spores rather than seeds.  There are about 10,560 known extant fern species with about 50 native fern species commonly found in our area.

Diagram from the helpful pocket-sized booklet, Fern Finder by Anne C. and Barbara G. Hallowell.  It includes a key to ID common ferns of central and northeastern U.S. and Canadian ferns.   

Diagram from the helpful pocket-sized booklet, Fern Finder by Anne C. and Barbara G. Hallowell.  It includes a key to ID common ferns of central and northeastern U.S. and Canadian ferns.   

 According to Wikipedia: Ferns first appear in the fossil record 360 million years ago in the late Devonian period, but many of the current families and species did not appear until roughly 145 million years ago in the early Cretaceous, after flowering plants came to dominate many environments. The fern Osmunda claytoniana is a paramount example of evolutionary stasis; paleontological evidence indicates it has remained unchanged, even at the level of fossilized nuclei and chromosomes, for at least 180 million years.

Osmunda claytoniana is native throughout much of Eastern North America.  I've decided to try to find one for my garden as homage to a plant that has remained unchanged for 180 million years.  Photo below is of this fern which is commonly known as the interrupted fern since it has a section along its rachis (stem) of fertile pinna which drop off leaving an interrupted section mid-blade.  Another native fern which looks similar is the Cinnamon fern, Osmundastrum cinnamomeum.

We'll be including multiple native fern species in the shade garden that we will be planting next spring at Pleasant View.  If you have a native fern you'd like to share let me know and we'll transplant it next spring to Pleasant View.  A reminder -- always buy your native plants from a reputable dealer or transplant from a friend but never dig up native plants from the wild.

Poplar Island Tour

We're looking forward to our tour of Poplar Island this Friday, July 21.  What an opportunity to have a free boat excursion on the Chesapeake Bay and learn about the recreation of this island.  Check out details on our "Events" page.  We still have room if you contact Merikay ASAP.  Children are welcome.   Optional camping at Tuckahoe State Park on Thursday before the tour.  Just $3 per person for the camp site.

SSL Opportunity at Pleasant View

I met Sidharth and his son at Pleasant View today to do weeding. We got two buckets full of weeds out of the bed. What a great parent/child activity for earning SSL hours. They're returning tomorrow to do more. Thank you!

Also thanks to Israel Orellana for working on the beds for four hours last Saturday. Our six waterers (Carolyn Thompson, Melvin Joppy, Angie Ellis, Mary Hlavinka, Celia Paulsen, and Patty Dirlam) continue to watch over and water the beds. It's looking good at the Pleasant View garden. Please let me know if you stop by to weed. Any help is much appreciated.  11800 Darnestown Road.  For more details see "Pleasant View" from the main menu.

June Fest at Pleasant View

Click on the slideshow above to see photos of the 2017 JuneFest at Pleasant View.  Besides featuring a newly restored historic Bible, the Fest showcased our garden as a work in progress.  I was asked to speak briefly about the project -- an opportunity to share a message about native plants.  

A pleasant surprise came when Rev. Green awarded me a "Doers Do" award as a thank you for the work we have done on the site.  So in turn I want to say thank you to each of you who has helped -- planting, watering, weeding.  It's a huge job and we've had help from many, many volunteers.

Native Plant Highlights

On May 23, Tuesday, at 7 p.m. we will have a presentation at the historic school at Pleasant View on native plants for the home garden.  Merikay will share photos and descriptions of a variety of native plants for sun/shade including some of those recently planted at Pleasant View.  This blog highlights Ilex glabra, inkberry.

The cultivar selected for Pleasant View is 'Shamrock' but there are many other choices. This is a lovely evergreen shrub in the holly family that remains compact so it is low maintenance. It's also deer resistant.

Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Adaptable to both light and heavy soils. Tolerates wet soils. Prefers rich, consistently moist, acidic soils in full sun. Good shade tolerance, however. Inkberries are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Female plants need a male pollinator in order to produce the berry-like drupes that are characteristic of the species and cultivars. It is native to the coastal plain from Nova Scotia to Florida to Louisiana. Leaves usually remain attractive in winter unless temperatures dip well below zero.

I'm a beekeeper and have learned that inkberry honey is a highly-rated honey that results from bees feeding on inkberry flowers. This honey is locally produced in certain parts of the Southeastern U.S. in areas where beekeepers release bees from late April to early June to coincide with inkberry flowering time. Dried and roasted inkberry leaves were first used by Native Americans to brew a black tea-like drink, hence the sometimes used common name of Appalachian tea for this shrub.

Historic Q.O. Colored School

To me the most satisfying aspect of the Pleasant View project has been the delightful people we've met.  I feel like I have a new circle of friends.  The volunteers have been great across the spectrum of ages and experience.  My favorite times have been when the work is done and we're relaxing in the school listening to the stories of the old days.  I'm posting a few photos here of that experience.  Click on the photos to see more.

Pleasant View Progress

Native yucca transplanted as a start to the oval bed of native plants at the base of the site's sign.  This type of yucca is hard to find in nurseries but it was used for years to mark gravesites in African American cemeteries.  There are yucca plants in the Pleasant View cemetery.  Thanks to Merikay's neighbors, Kate and Dave Young, for allowing Merikay to dig some of their yucca plants for use at Pleasant View.  Click on photos above to see transplanting progress.

Getting excited about our Earth Day volunteer event this Saturday, April 22.  See you there!

Donations Launch the Project

Dara Ballow-Giffen, a Master Gardener, helped us out by contacting Pope Farm, a facility which grows native plants, to see if they would donate some to our project.  Rochelle Bartolomei of Pope Farm selected 100 plants for us and Dara picked them up today, delivering them to Pleasant View.  

Photos of Dara and Rochelle

Our native beauties

I'm heading out to hike a local trail this morning and expect to find at least a few of our lovely spring native flowers in bloom, though not likely a lady slipper.  To get a peek at this and others, check www.virginiawildflowers.org.  There are sites with more information such as the Maryland Native Plant Society or Virginia Native Plant Society, but I like this site because it is simply a list of common native wildflowers and attractive photos of each with interesting background information.  Enjoy!

Stewardship and Creation: No Waste

 

Brigham Young:  "Never let anything go to waste. Be prudent...and what you get more than what you can take care of yourselves, ask your neighbors to help you consume. . . . Never consider that you have enough around you to suffer your children to waste a crumb of it. If a man is worth millions of bushels of wheat and corn, he is not wealthy enough to . . . sweep a single kernel of it into the fire; let it be eaten by something and pass again into the earth, and thus fulfill the purpose for which it grew. Remember it, do not waste anything, but take care of everything." Brigham Young, Discourses, 292.

"There are many who confuse prosperity with the power to waste.  An oft-spoken rationale for waste is that if people own something, they are entitled to do with it as they pleased....Brigham Young offers a different perspective by reminding us that one can never have enough to be wasteful, that everything that was created was created for a purpose, and that we interfere with God's plan when we waste something that He created for a purpose."

"Brigham Young makes a clear connection between our stewardship over natural capital and over human capital. When we waste the resources provided for us by God, we harm our brothers and sisters. This principle is also emphasized in the 104th section of the Doctrine and Covenants: 'For the earth is full, and there is enough to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment' (D&C 104:17–18)."

Excerpts from Donald L. Adolphson, “Environmental Stewardship and Economic Prosperity,” in Stewardship and the Creation: LDS Perspectives on the Environment, eds. George B. Handley, Terry B. Ball, and Steven L. Peck (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center), 2006.

  NEVER LET ANYTHING GO TO WASTE. BE PRUDENT, AND WHAT YOU GET MORE THAN WHAT YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES, ASK YOUR NEIGHBORS TO HELP YOU CONSUME. . . . NEVER CONSIDER THAT YOU HAVE ENOUGH AROUND YOU TO SUFFER YOUR CHILDREN TO WASTE... Brigham Young  

 

NEVER LET ANYTHING GO TO WASTE. BE PRUDENT, AND WHAT YOU GET MORE THAN WHAT YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES, ASK YOUR NEIGHBORS TO HELP YOU CONSUME. . . . NEVER CONSIDER THAT YOU HAVE ENOUGH AROUND YOU TO SUFFER YOUR CHILDREN TO WASTE...

Brigham Young

 

From small and simple things

This week I had our Cub scouts at my garden.  They helped plant a native tree, planted seedling vegetables in the garden, and created a recycled soda bottle terrarium planted with basil to grow at home.  Fun.

Whenever we engage the next generation in caring for Creation, we are planting seeds for future growth.  Besides engaging with the plants, the boys had fun identifying various worms, caterpillars, larvae, beetles and other creatures found in the soil.  They got to explore the garden and compare how things had change since their visit a few weeks ago -- the wonders of spring.

In talking with one of the moms I was reminded how easy it is to be discouraged, to feel like it is not worth trying to care for the environment. Why not keep consuming along with many in our culture until we all face dire consequences?  

On reflection, my response would include 1) the joy the comes from connecting deeply with nature and caring for Creation 2) our stewardship is not dependent on the choices of others 3) each of us can make a significant difference 4) we are not alone.  In every community there are people deeply concerned about the environment and willing to make personal sacrifices to protect our common home, Earth.  

I'm finding opportunities every day in small and simple things I can make a difference.  Every time I buy something I can make a choice to consume less.  I can wear a sweater rather than turn up the thermostat.  I can plant a garden for food and native plants for habitat -- feeding the creatures who share my corner of the world.  I can look for ways in my church service to include conservation -- like teaching Cub scouts.  I serve on the Board of our local watershed group and run their annual tree initiative.  It takes a few days' work but is very rewarding as I think of oaks, maples, hornbeam, dogwood, redbuds, and other trees growing in my community.  One at a time I've now disbursed 1,000 trees.  These little seedlings don't look like much now but imagine the impact over time of that many native trees.  

From small and simple things...

New Bee Publication Available at Xerces.org

http://www.xerces.org/neonicotinoids-and-bees/

http://www.xerces.org/neonicotinoids-and-bees/

A reminder of the importance of science based analysis and response, this report relies heavily on studies done by the EPA.  Visit Xerces.org for the full report and helpful information on how you can protect bees and other invertebrate.  As earth stewards we may need to work together to not only protect the environment but to protect the ability of scientists to objectively study and report on their findings.  Prior to the studies cited in this report there was uncertainty as to the extent and mechanisms of neonicotinoids' impact on bees.  I've copied an image from and executive summary of the report below:

Neonicotinoid Movement in the Environment

Neonicotinoids are being found throughout the landscape in areas where they were not applied. This figure from our report illustrates some of the main pathways for neonicotinoid movement in the environment and also shows how this movement could expose beneficial insects.

 

 

How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees: Executive Summary

Neonicotinoids have been adopted for use on an extensive variety of farm crops as well as ornamental landscape plants. They are the most widely used group of insecticides in the world, and have been for a decade. Developed as alternatives for organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, neonicotinoids are compounds that affect the nervous system of insects, humans, and other animals. Although less acutely toxic to mammals and other vertebrates than older insecticides, neonicotinoids are highly toxic in small quantities to many invertebrates, including beneficial insects such as bees.

The impact of this class of insecticides on pollinating insects such as honey bees and native bees is a cause for concern. Because they are systemic chemicals absorbed into the plant, neonicotinoids can be present in pollen and nectar, making them toxic to pollinators that feed on them. The potentially long-lasting presence of neonicotinoids in plants, although useful from a pest management standpoint, makes it possible for these chemicals to harm pollinators even when the initial application is made weeks before the bloom period. In addition, depending on the compound, rate, and method of application, neonicotinoids can persist in the soil and be continually taken in by plants for a very long periods of time.

Across Europe and North America, a possible link to honey bee die-offs has made neonicotinoids controversial. In December 2013, the European Union significantly limited the use of clothianidin, imiadcloprid, and thiamethoxam on bee-attractive crops. In the United States, Canada, and elsewhere, local, state, and federal decision makers are also taking steps to protect pollinators from neonicotinoids. For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service phased out all uses of neonicotinoids on National Wildlife Refuges lands starting in January 2016.

This report reviews research on the impact of these pesticides on bees. For a research review on beneficial insects, including those important to biological control, see Hopwood et al. (2013). See Morrissey et al. (2015), Mineau et al. (2013), and Gibbons et al. (2015) for reviews on aquatic invertebrates, birds, and vertebrates, respectively.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation also maintains an annotated bibliography of relevant research published since the writing of this report on its web site. The bibliography can be accessed here.

Key Findings

The following findings are divided into three sections. In the first section, we present clearly documented information about neonicotinoid impacts on bees, i.e., facts that are supported by an extensive body of research. (Fully cited evidence for these is detailed in the main body of this report.) The second section covers what can be inferred from the available research. This includes possible effects for which there is currently only limited research or the evidence is not conclusive. In the third section, we identify knowledge gaps in our understanding of pollinator and neonicotinoid interactions. Filling these gaps will allow better-informed decisions about the future use and regulation of these chemicals.

 

Clearly Documented Facts

Exposure of Bees to Neonicotinoids

  • • Neonicotinoid residues found in pollen and nectar are consumed by flower-visiting insects such as bees. Residue concentrations can reach levels that cause sublethal effects through a variety of application methods, including use of coated seed, and in some situations can reach lethal levels.
  • • Neonicotinoids can persist in soil for months or years after a single application. Residues have been found in woody plants up to six years after soil drench application.
  • • Untreated plants have been found to absorb the residues of some neonicotinoids that persisted in the soil from the previous year.
  • • Neonicotinoids applied to crops, even as seed coatings, can contaminate adjacent vegetation, including bee-attractive wildflowers.
  • • Products approved for home and garden use may be applied to plants at rates substantially higher than the maximum label rate approved for agricultural crops.
  • • Direct contact from foliar applications of the most toxic neonicotinoids has caused bee kills; additionally, foliar residues on plant surfaces may remain lethal to bees for several days.
  • • Bee kills have been caused by legal applications of neonicotinoids to Tilia (linden, basswood). Some of these applications, designed to be uptaken by the trees, occurred weeks to months prior to when bees visited the trees.

Effects on Honey Bees (Apis mellifera)

  • • Clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam are highly toxic to honey bees by contact and ingestion.
  • • Thiacloprid and acetamiprid are moderately toxic to honey bees. (To understand how the EPA defines the levels of toxicity, see EPA Toxicity Classification Scale for Bees on right.)
  • • Neonicotinoids absorbed by plants are metabolized over time. Some of the resulting breakdown products are also toxic to honey bees, and sometimes even more toxic than the original compound.
  • • Honey bees exposed to sublethal levels of neonicotinoids can experience problems with flight and navigation, reduced taste sensitivity, and slower learning of new tasks, all of which impact foraging ability and hive productivity.
  • • Larvae exposed to sublethal doses of imidacloprid in brood food had reduced survival and pupation, altered metabolism, and reduced olfactory response as adults.
  • • Contaminated talc, abraded seed coating, or dust that becomes airborne during planting of neonicotinoid-coated seed is acutely toxic on contact to honey bees.

Effects on Bumble Bees (Bombus spp.)

  • • Imidacloprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, and thiamethoxam are highly toxic to bumble bees.
  • • Exposure to sublethal amounts of neonicotinoids can result in reductions in food consumption, reproduction, worker survival rates, colony survival, and foraging activity.
  • • Queen production is significantly reduced by sublethal amounts of neonicotinoids, which may lower bumble bee populations because fewer colonies are established the following year.

Effects on Solitary Bees

  • • Clothianidin and imidacloprid are highly toxic to blue orchard bees (Osmia lignaria) and alfalfa leafcutter bees (Megachile rotundata).
  • • Imidacloprid residues on alfalfa foliage increase rates of mortality of alfalfa leafcutter bees and alkali bees (Nomia melanderi).
  • • Blue orchard bee larvae required more time to mature after consuming sublethal levels of imidacloprid in pollen.
  • • Sublethal amounts of neonicotinoids can have harmful effects on the reproduction of red mason bees (Osmia bicornis).

Presence in the Environment

  • • Tens of millions of acres of neonicotinoid-coated seed is planted annually in the United States and Canada. When applied systemically and taken up by the plant, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin can have residual activity within plants for months to years.
  • • Imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin are persistent in soil, with residues present for months to years.
  • • Neonicotinoids can move into water and have been found in a range of water bodies, where they may persist. Clothianidin has been found in rivers and streams, wetlands, groundwater, and puddles. Imidacloprid has been found in surface water, groundwater, and puddles. Thiamethoxam has been found in waterways, wetlands, groundwater, and puddles, and has also been detected in irrigation water pulled from ground wells. Acetamiprid and dinotefuran have been found in waterways.

 

Inferences from Research Results

Exposure of Bees to Neonicotinoids

  • • Application as a seed coating can result in low levels of residues in pollen and nectar that have been linked with sublethal effects in solitary bees.
  • • Application methods such as foliar sprays, soil drenches, and trunk injections apply a higher dosage per plant than seed coatings and may result in much higher—even lethal—levels of neonicotinoid residues in pollen and nectar.
  • • Application of neonicotinoids before and during bloom may result in residue levels in pollen and nectar that cause sublethal effects or even mortality.
  • • Application by soil drench or trunk injection to woody ornamental species may result in residue levels in blossoms that cause lethal and sublethal effects for more than a year after treatment.
  • • Foliar applications may have shorter residual toxicity in comparison to other application methods such as trunk injection and soil drench.
  • • Pesticide residues, including from planting coated seeds, have been found in honey bee hives.

Effects on Pollinators

  • • There is no direct link demonstrated between neonicotinoids and the honey bee syndrome known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). However, recent research suggests that pesticides, including neonicotinoids, may make honey bees more susceptible to parasites and viruses, including the intestinal parasite Nosema, which has been implicated as one causative factor in CCD.
  • • Neonicotinoids may synergistically interact with demethylase inhibitor (DMI) fungicides. DMI fungicides have significantly increased the toxicity of neonicotinoids to honey bees in some laboratory tests. The synergistic effects of these mixtures in field settings using formulated pesticides in water appear to be less dramatic in comparison with the laboratory research.
  • • Bumble bees and solitary bees can be affected by neonicotinoids at lower concentrations than are honey bees. Currently, evaluation of other pollinators beyond honey bees is extremely limited in EPA’s pesticide registration process.

A New Year for Change

The holidays have come and gone. Today most all of us are returning to our usual obligations and routines. Welcome back to reality. Maybe like me, you felt more than ready to say goodbye to 2016. Now a new year spreads out in front of us, fresh and new and full of possibility like that perfectly smooth bank of freshly fallen snow just begging for footprints or sled tracks or a giant belly flop of a snow angel.

 

I appreciate the reflection the changing year invites. I’m grateful for the opportunity to open myself up to resolutions, goals, and change. Whether the potential of all that can soon happen feels exciting, intimidating, or a squirrelly mix of both, I take encouragement from knowing that we come to earth to be changed and shaped by our mortality. If you feel stuck in a rut or trapped or held back take courage from knowing our world is a place devoted to change. We worship a Creator whose creations are designed to grow, adapt, and progress. As Marcus Aurelius said, change is nature’s delight.

Photo by Belle Deesse

Photo by Belle Deesse

John Muir observed:

Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another. (1899)

Here in the Northern Hemisphere it is the darkest and coldest time of the year, but every day gains a little more light. So follow the seasons and let your small efforts brighten and warm your life and bring about great change.

As Alma reminds us:

Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls. (37:6-7)
-KateMC

Boat Tour of the Anacostia, October 29, 10 AM

anacostia-river.jpg
Fall display at the National Arboretum

Fall display at the National Arboretum

 Autumn Bonsai: The Colors of Nature (opens this Saturday Oct. 29) Enjoy bonsai in their glowing autumn colors before the leaves fall away: a formal display of select trees during their peak fall colors, including red maples, yellow ginkgos, fruiting trees, and more.

 Autumn Bonsai: The Colors of Nature (opens this Saturday Oct. 29)
Enjoy bonsai in their glowing autumn colors before the leaves fall away: a formal display of select trees during their peak fall colors, including red maples, yellow ginkgos, fruiting trees, and more.

To learn more of the Anacostia and see photos from Dr. McKenna and Howard University students:

multimediastorytellinganacostia.wordpress.com

Save the morning of Saturday, October 29, to join Earth Stewardship East for a tour of the Anacostia hosted by Riverkeepers.  This free event will be led by people who care about the Anacostia -- they'll share its history, wildlife, and environmental concerns.   The boat carries 13 passengers so please RSVP to earthstewardshipeast@gmail.com.  

The Riverkeepers are willing to take one group at 10 am and a second group if we have that many interested.  We have arranged for this tour to depart from the docks at the National Arboretum which is a wonderful place to visit.  Our own Kate Cummings  is a volunteer there and she will lead a tour of the garden (with particular emphasis on what will appeal to children).  

Please share with friends.  Since we're meeting at the Arboretum, we can have something interesting for everyone who comes, even if we can't all take the boat tour.

If you have questions, call Merikay at 301-926-9774.  

We learned about these tours through the Chesapeake Interfaith Power and Light.

www.anacostiariverkeeper.org/anacostia-river-explorers

A Challenge for You

Sarah Vining, one of our local earth stewards, has challenged us to take a nature walk finding the most interesting plant you can find, and submitting a picture of it with the name (if that can be found).

So here's Merikay's.  Already the rules are being broken as it is not a plant but a fungi: Laetiporus sulphureus. (If there's a mycologist who'd like to correct the ID, please do.). The bright orange color seems right for October. Saw this on a walk along the Seneca Greenway Trail.

If you have a photo to post, please send it to earthstewardshipeast@gmail.com.