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Perfume For Pollinators
June 13, 2016

Yes .........................

Graduation and open house season is over for us.

My great nephew was the last on a short list this year.

June 11 was his open house, today (Monday), he is on his way to the 'United States Marine Corp' boot camp in San Diego, CA.

We are proud of you Matthew.

Karen has her knee looked at later on today.

Yolanda had her foot cast for measurements and design of a ratcheting type of device to stretch her right foot.

Things are slowly moving forward.

Bobbi Sue, our last kitty cat will be put to sleep Tuesday afternoon.

The old girl is 16-17 years old, and can no longer make the litter box, or is too confused at times.

She will be placed next to Lorna in the backyard.

Another kitty is possible later on.

May is my favorite month, June isn't far behind.

May brings forth life.

June shares it all with me.

Flowers are blooming, fledged birds are everywhere. Baby bunnies, chipmunks, and young squirrels are regular visitors as well.

It's all part of nature, right?

At the bottom are a couple of pictures of my potted tomato plants.

These are large pots, about 16" high and 20" across.

The plants were planted way down and potting mix and other stuff fill the pots as the plants grow.

These plants now have a root system as deep as the pot and will fill the pot by season's end barring any virus or storm damage.

Perfume For Pollinators.


Perfume for Pollinators:

(Sweet Bush)

You've seen them.

More than likely you have helped yourself.

'Scratch 'n' Sniff', cologne and perfume strips, and other forms of olfactory advertising.

Scents to attract or sooth the savage beast.

Are you Using Fragrant Plants to Lure Insects and Other Critters Into the Garden?

You can you know.

Without the Scratch-n-sniff gimmicks.

No sprays or colognes.

The truth is, plants have been doing this since their creation.

Plants advertise with fragrance in various ways.

For example, they perfume their blooms to seduce the insects, bats, and other critters they need to pollinate their flowers.

Floral fragrance is a kind of olfactory come-on that proclaims to a potential flower fertilizer, "Come hither, honey, 'cause there's scrumptious pollen and sweet nectar hidden inside these pretty petals."

In addition to a full belly, the pollinator leaves with pollen attached to its body in a bundle or dusted on its fur.

When the pollinator lands on another flower while looking for its next meal, cross-fertilization can occur.

Some species of plants are in big trouble around the globe because their pollinators are disappearing.

A major factor in their decline is loss of habitat to farms and urban development.

Sprayed on pesticides, neonicatinoids, GMO's and others chemicals kill off all insects, not just the bad guys.

Without their pollinators, the flowers of many species don't get fertilized.

If they don't get fertilized, they don't set seed and can't reproduce.

In a pinch, some plants can pollinate themselves, but this often causes inbreeding and other genetic problems that ultimately threaten the species survival.

By creating gardens that feature a variety of fragrant flowers to attract a diversity of pollinators, we gardeners can help compensate for the loss of habitat and lend plants and their partners a helping hand.

As a bonus, we get whiffs of
the heady scents ourselves.

And the hours of pleasure we get simply from watching the tireless insects and birds at work.

Signature Scents:

(Ducks coming in for an evening feed.)

Plants employ not just scent but also visual cues like flower color to facilitate reproduction.

For example:

Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red and many red flowers don't have a strong smell that would attract bees.

(Hummers also enjoy other colors, like purple, orange, pink, etc.)

Beetles are also created to be attracted by certain smells.

Certain insects for certain smells.

This minimizes the competition and battles.

Although many insects are near sighted and some may be color blind (though tests show insects see in ultraviolet), they have a great sense of smell.

So, it's no big surprise that the magnolias and other flowers they still pollinate pack powerful perfumes.

Orchids, use it to captivate their reproductive partners.

In fact, although flowers can be identical in color and shape, no two floral fragrances are alike.

Every plant has its own signature scent, a complex mixture of volatile organic compounds that easily turn to gases and waft through the air.

Some 1,700 compounds have been identified in flower fragrances so far, according to 'Purdue University' research that studied floral scents.

An orchid can produce a hundred different volatile compounds, while a snapdragon produces seven to ten.

Purdue's researchers recently isolated the gene for one of these compounds, methyl benzoate.

Some 30 to 40 commercially important plants—including snapdragons, flowering tobaccos, and petunias—use this same fragrance-generation system.

Intensive breeding for bigger, more colorful, and longer-lasting blooms during the past few decades evidently has deactivated the gene.

Which is why so many modern varieties are disappointing in the scent department.

A plant that is pouring so much energy into producing flashier-looking flowers, is in essence too pooped to make perfume.

To date, little is known about how pollinators respond to the individual compounds found in flower scents.

But it is clear that they are capable of distinguishing among complex scent mixtures and therefore among plant species—their 'sniffers' steer them to the ones that provide the most delectable nectar or pollen.

Since the beginning of time, creation has allowed for certain smells to attract certain insects and other pollinators.

That's right.

'A designed, symbiotic relationship between plant and pollinator.

Breeders remove certain traits like smells and pollen for larger showier blooms, or plants that have other traits like tall, short, disease resistant, etc. and then add some other traits and now, some plants and pollinators are in trouble.

They don't know each other.

You could say that it's all in the proboscis of the beholder (or antennae, the olfactory organs of bees, beetles, and moths).

Pollinators are very picky about flower odors.

Bees, for example, prefer the sweet scent of plants like snapdragons and sweet peas.

Beetles are partial to flowers with fruity and spicy scents, such as magnolias.

Moths, which are mostly nocturnal, are attracted to flowers such as jasmine, which advertise their presence under the cloak of darkness with strong, sweet perfumes.

Moths have a keen sense of smell and have even been known to pick up the scent of an enticing plant from 900 feet away.

Bats are also night flyers with good noses, but they favor blooms with musty aromas.

Most bats in the United States are insectivorous, but three flower-eating species migrate from Mexico to pollinate dozens of Agave and Giant Cacti in the desert Southwest.

Lesser long-nosed bats, for example, take a predictable path in spring, following blooming cacti northward through the Sonoran Desert.

(Fledged Robin)

Most people don't think of flies as pollinators, but they play a critical role in the fertilization of some flowers.

Flies, fancy blossoms that emit the essence of carrion or dung and look like lumps of rotting flesh.

Among their favorites are our native red trillium, which early naturalists christened "stinking benjamins" because of their stench.

Birds and most butterflies are olfactory challenged, so the flowers that depend on them for pollination don't waste time and energy on smelling beautiful.

Within the various groups of flower fertilizers there are generalists, which have cosmopolitan floral tastes, and specialists, which have a monogamous relationship with the blossoms they visit.

Among the ultimate pollinator specialists are the moths that fertilize yuccas, which typically send up stout stalks of white flowers.

Yuccas, including about 30 species native to North America, such as the Spanish bayonet (Yucca schottii) and the Joshua tree (Y. brevifolia), are pollinated only by yucca moths, and 70 percent of yucca moth species visit the flowers of only one yucca species.

False Advertising:

Pollinators aren't always too bright about using fragrance to find the flowers that offer the best rewards, and some flowers exploit their gullibility by resorting to false advertising.

Consider jack-in-the-pulpit, skunk cabbage, and other aroids, whose tiny flowers, massed together along a fleshy pole partially surrounded by a leaf, smell of stinking fish and feces.

Flies arrive with great expectations of finding some rotting tissue in which to lay their eggs.

They get trapped inside a chamber at the base of the leaf that protects the fertile flowers and remain incarcerated until the flowering pole wilts.

In the process of trying to escape, they pollinate the plant.

False or not, when it comes to advertising scent, timing is everything.

'Snapdragons' release four times more scent during the day, when their bee pollinators are busy foraging, than at night.

By contrast, 'Nicotiana' is most fragrant after dusk, when their moth pollinators are out and about.

What's more, flowers show off their perfumes only when they are good and ready for fertilization.

Newly opened blossoms don't produce as much scent as mature ones do, and fertilized flowers not only make less fragrance but also lower-quality perfume.

It's useful to keep these things in mind when using fragrance in the garden to help nurture plants and their pollinators.

Invite a variety of pollinators into your garden by offering a large and diverse mix of fragrant species, both day and night bloomers.

Plant favored species in drifts of at least three to five to attract pollinators and make it worth their while to visit.

Drifts and beds of multiples also help attract butterflies and hummingbirds as well.

Choose old-fashioned varieties and native flowers whenever possible, because breeding has caused some modern-day blooms to lose their fragrance, and even those that still have scent may lack the nectar that pollinators need to thrive.

Plant a mix of flowers that cater to both generalist and specialist pollinators, so all can partake of the feast.

Design your garden so that there is a continuous succession of plants in bloom to provide nonstop food sources for hungry pollinators.

Avoid using pesticides, even non chemical ones such as Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which can decimate pollinator populations.

Besides, don't you enjoy watching the life that abounds in your gardens?

A reminder for you, we will be gone Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (Lord willing).

Well, Its time to fly for now.

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

God bless.

"Being defeated is often only a temporary condition.

Giving up is what makes it permanent."

Marilyn Vos Savant

How often do you 'give up'?

Just one more try.

Are you looking to God for help?

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Philippians 4:13

"And let us not grow weary of doing good,

for in due season we will reap,

if we do not give up."

Galatians 6:9

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued,

“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope,
serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy,
generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
The same fight is going on inside you –
and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute
and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

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

Gardening For Wildlife.

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