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Where Are All The Pollinators?
July 08, 2013

How is your summer going so far?

It is hard to believe that this is the second week of July already.

I'm head usher at our church, and finding people to assist with ushering is a challenge this time of year.

Vacations (holidays in Canada), this time of year take top billing.

I have extra zucchini, and am sharing the wealth.

Tomatoes and pepper plants are also doing well so far.

Its been two weeks now since our last good rain, we could use a good soaker.

I haven't seen the River Otters now for the past nine days.

That doesn't mean they are gone, but I think they have moved on.

Chemicals sprayed on the pond (weeds)was probably the culprit, as otters are sensitive to pollutants and chemical.

I can't explain how blessed I feel for sharing a few moments with the clowns of nature.

Knowing that i witnessed what few have the pleasure of, and to have them in a suburban area.

Are you a garden enthusiast?

Maybe a lover of nature.

Possibly you are more like me, and you feel more alive in a garden that is filled with nature, and have a love for both.

Anyway, have you noticed anything different this season?

(I made mention to Karen a couple weeks ago on this.)

The reason I’m asking the question is that I’ve yet to see any butterflies (few bees as well)in my yard, except a few Sulfurs, Spotted Checkers and Cabbage whites.

(Funny, Cabbage Whites are an introduced species from Europe, yet are the most common butterfly in North America.)

Yes, I have seen the occasional Eastern Tiger Swallowtail drift through, but nothing that catches my eye.

Here we are, the second week of July and I haven't seen a single Monarch, yet I know they have reached far places such as Maine and Saskatchewan.

Last year I had more Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, Buckeyes, and other species of butterflies than I can ever recall.

The fields are nearly void of Skippers and Hairstreaks butterflies.

I’ve tried to create a healthy natural setting that will encourage regular visits from beneficial insects and wildlife.

I normally use healthy and natural techniques to protect the environment.

I have specifically planted several shrubs and perennials that attract bees, butterflies and birds.

Coneflower, Rudbeckia, Asters, Monarda, Butterfly bush, Viburnums, Liatris, native grasses, to name a few.

Annuals with nice flat flowers like Zinnia and Cosmos

I have planted Butterfly weed, and the fields and pond edge has a healthy crop of milkweeds growing.

Overall, the flowering plants are blossoming as expected this year.

Birdhouses already have their share of regular tenants, as do the shrubs and trees.

Still, no butterflies.

I was hoping to enjoy the colorful scenery with these fluttering visitors while leisurely walking the yard and garden, or resting under a shade tree.

That will have to wait.

I’ll have to be patient.

I'm not one to just sit back, I started to dig into the matter.

Habitat loss, and indiscriminate use of pesticides and herbicide, contribute to the precipitous decline.

The decline isn't confined to the butterflies.

Butterflies are but one of many species of insects and wildlife threatened to disappear forever.

It is well documented, 'The Plight of the Monarch'.

Mostly caused by man, habitat destruction, super chemicals that kill both food and insects.

Butterflies and all pollinators world wide are being threatened.

Not just the butterflies.

It is well documented that Monsanto and its GMO seeds have an effect on all life.

From the tiniest insect to the largest animals, to you and me.

Herbicides and pesticides are meant for one thing.

"To Kill".

These chemicals run through the veins of the plants and into the seeds and fruits that we eat directly or indirectly.

Pollinators like bees feed on the pollen and nectar.

They bring the toxins back to the have.

Feed the queen and the larvae.

Instant hive die off.

Not just honey bees, but our native Bumble bees and other pollinators that store up to feed larvae and pupal states.

I digress,

I'm talking butterflies this time around.

Last year was a very warm and even down right hot spring and summer.

In many places, it was also a very dry year.

There were plenty of butterflies last year.

From early spring to the chills of autumn, there were butterflies galore.

I've made mention to Karen about the lack of butterflies, and wondered if the weather may have played a part.

Some research online and personal experience, and sure enough.

The weather does play a major roll in butterflies.

Not just Monarchs, but all butterflies.

Last spring was warm.

Butterflies and flowers were quick to come out of hibernation.

Other butterfly Chrysalis and moth cocoons hatched early.

There was plenty of nectar, and host plants available for a bumper crop of first and second generations.

However, as the drought took hold of the landscapes, food sources dried up. flowers never opens, plants withered away.

The possibility of a good crop of butterflies for 2013 wasn't looking good.

Now, like most people, I haven't given this a second thought.

Not until recently.

I've also discovered this.

Much of the Great Lakes Region had a wet to very wet spring (often with below normal temperatures), as have other parts of the world.

Cool temperatures can slow down plant growth and egg hatching, but the real villain here, is the rain.

Torrential rains.

Area flooding.

Ponding of fields and meadows.

Even if butterflies were around, they were not able to fly.

If they tried, they would have been beaten down and often into pools of water.

Only to drown.

If butterflies can't fly, they can't feed.

They can't mate, or lay eggs.

No caterpillars to carry on the next generations.

Chrysalis and eggs that over wintered were often at the mercy of rising water levels.

Again, no future butterflies.

This also applies to ground dwelling bees like Bumbles, All species of ground bees, and so on.

If you live in a region that has butterflies, good for you.

I will be patient and wait for some to immigrate to Southwest Michigan.

Nature has a way of thinning out and getting rid of the weak.

What we often call natural disasters are indeed beneficial to nature in the long term

I have no problems with that.

I do have issues with the continued , careless use of chemicals.

I have issues with companies that continue to manufacture, advertise, and sell the products like we need them and without warning of the hazards.

You know, Insects are also an indicator species (along with birds and amphibians).

A healthy butterfly (insect) population indicates and healthy environment.

As life around us disappears, we need to be aware of our surroundings.

Once the insects are gone, the birds will follow.

Then what?

I urge you to do your part in your own little patch of this planet we call earth.

We were made stewards.

We were made to subdue, not destroy.

Please let me know how your butterfly and pollinator situation is, I am curious.

Well,, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"The glory of God is man fully alive.

Saint Irenaeus

Interesting thought.

That the purpose of God ....

The very thing he’s staked his reputation on .....

Very very reason for you and me......

Is coming fully alive?

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:10

“Come to me to have life.”

John 5:40

“You have made known to me the path of life.”

Psalms 16:11

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”

Proverbs 4:23

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

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Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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