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Gardening For Wildlife, #21 Drought, feeding and butterflies
June 25, 2007

Yep, it's that time of year for the graduation open house.

Two nieces this past weekend.

Fortunately they were smart and did a 2 for 1 deal.

Same time, same location.

The big thrill of the week was watching the space station and shuttle fly over head.

How many of you recall the early days of watching for " Telastar" satellite.

That moving spot of light high over head.

On a clear night away from light pollution, you can still watch for satellites.

They move in any direction and there are more to spot.

Okay, okay..................

So I got side tracked.

On a recent walk with Akita, we ventured some into the field.

Not far from the pond we came across a mess of eggs shells scattered about. Some wild beast found a turtle nest.

So this year's snappers were some other critter's late night supper.

All's well, the turtles feed on the baby ducks.

One day there are five babies and the next day three remain.

Until baby ducks and geese get a bit larger, they are easy pickings from under the water's surface.

So goes the cruel realities of nature.

Fire flies now fill the night sky, especially near the pond and wetland. A sure sign of summer.

Can you stand it?

Summer is here already.

Where did spring go?

This hot dry spell has felt like summer for much of June, however.

Yes, we still are lacking "Nature's" H2O.

Rain in surrounding areas, but nothing here.

Areas that are lacking water will be short on natural bird food like seeds and berries.

Seeds have a difficult time maturing and fruits may be small and few.

I am noticing this as Keet and I go for our walks.

Wild raspberries are puny and the wild strawberries seem to be non existent.

As dry and warm conditions continue, it's important to keep an eye on your trees and shrubs and look for signs of stress.

This is especially critical for plants that have been planted this year and last year. Plants that haven't had the time to put down good roots.

It is important to water these plantings at least once a week with a good soaking in the absence of rainfall.

Even if you have irrigation that may water every day for a few minutes. A good,slow deep soaking is needed for the health of your plants.

Deep soakings allow for roots to go deep for a drink. This builds a stronger plant all the way around.

Here are some common signs of drought and heat stress.

Browning tips and edges on leaves.

Grayish cast to some foliage.

Leaf curling or rolling.

Drooping leaders on conifers.

Leaf drop.(Yes, plants will drop leaves to save moisture and energy.)

Leaf curling and drooping leaders will be the first signs followed by browning or burning tips and edge.

A lack of fruiting plants means one thing...

More action at the feeders

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching the birds and I don't mind dolling out extra for them.

It is a concern when they can't find enough in the wild.

A lack of natural food will also bring other critters to your feeders.

Raccoons, more squirrels, and for some............. bears.

This creatures will go looking and don't mind a free source of food.

In fact, once they find the grocery store open all hours, they may go shopping at anytime of day.

That means trashed feeders and your birds feeling left out.

If bears are a problem, you may have to stop feeding birds for a spell or time your feedings.

Yes, you can train your birds to feed when you want them to.

Like people and other animals, birds too are creatures of habit.

If you observe, you may see them feeding about the same time everyday.

Certain birds will go to your baths for a drink of a splash around the same time everyday.

They preen the same time everyday.

Sound familiar?

Birds learn when feeders are full and they know you offer the good stuff.

It won't take long to alter their routine to your schedule.

Butterflies abound right now in My Michigan yard.

Red Admirals, Painted ladies, Sulphers, regal Tiger swallowtails and yes, Monarchs.

Everyone enjoys butterflies.

They are ballet dancers on the wing.

Butterflies enjoy our flowers.

All sorts of wide open flowers in whites, yellows, orange, reds and purple.

Color doesn't seem to matter, but nice flat open headed flowers will draw them in.

The more the merrier.

Plant beds and clumps of flowers.

Cone flowers, Zinnias, Daisies, Coreopsis are just a few

Not to mention butterfly bush.

Sure, Butterfly bush is non native, but is a must in any butterfly garden. Plus, hummers enjoy them as well.

Butterflies are near sighted, but have a wonderful sense of smell.

I have a couple of pages up on butterflies with more on the way

Read on how they see, smell and feed.

A few tidbits on butterflies

If I have the time, I will add a nice list of plants.

Now butterflies have a dark side.


Caterpillars are eating machines.

Munch, chomp, there goes a few leafs, on your prized plant.

We must endure if we want butterflies.

If you find a caterpillar, you found a butterfly or a moth in the making.

To attract more butterflies, be sure to plant host plants.

Host plants are what the caterpillar or larvae feed on.

An example is, milkweed for Monarchs or spicebush for Spicebush swallowtails.

Again, a basic list is coming.

Some are very selective and as these plants disappear, so do the butterflies.


It's time to fly for now.

As always, SMILE and smile pretty.

Smile at a stranger and see if they smile back.

Smiles are free and the feeling can be priceless.

As always my friend.

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

PS: If you know someone that would like this letter, forward it to them and have them sign up for their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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