The Other Butterfly I Am Helping

The Other Butterfly I Am Helping

There is another butterfly for whom I provide habitat here in Wisconsin. I learned of this butterfly shortly after moving here. It is the tiny Karner Blue. The silvery blue Karner Blue has weathered the storm of federal endangerment.  It was listed as Federally Endangered in 1992. But, in Wisconsin, where I believe the largest population of Karner Blue’s live it is listed simply as a species of concern. However, this listing has not deterred our state from being instrumental in conserving habitat and protecting our population of the Karner Blue Butterfly.

The habitat for this beautiful butterfly naturally occurs in our great mid-western state of Wisconsin, to include Oak Savannahs and Pine Barrens. The habitat also occurs in six other U.S. states, according to a Karner Blue Butterfly Expert. These states are New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota. However, the key element to the survival of the Karner Blue Butterfly is the presence of the larval host plant, the Wild Blue Lupine. The larva or caterpillar life cycle stage of the Karner Blue Butterfly only feeds on this plant! In most places, the population of Karner Blues has been endangered by the occurrence of increased human development.

bluelupinecows
Wild Blue Lupine, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2015.

Does this all sound familiar? It should! The Karner Blue’s survival depends on the availability of one plant, the Wild Blue Lupine, just like the Monarch’s survival depends on the availability of Milkweed.  Unlike the Monarch which usually has four to five generations per breeding season, the Karner Blue only has two generations per summer. The first generation is emerging now, laying eggs on lupine plants, feeding on the lupine, and emerging again as Butterflies in July after time spent in their chrysalis.

So, what have I done to help the Karner Blue? As always, one of the first things was educating myself. There are many websites which can help with this. Here are a few to get you started if you are interested:

USFWS – Karner Blue Butterfly

EEK – Critter Corner – Karner Blue Butterfly
WI Range Map of Karner Blue Butterfly

After familiarizing myself with the needs and habitat of this butterfly, I was able to share my knowledge with others and start looking for the Karner Blue. At our cabin, in Northern Wisconsin, we found some wild blue lupine – growing wild! This furthered my interest and I dug up a plant from our property there to bring it home to where our residence is closer to the actual range of the Karner Blue in West Central Wisconsin. Unfortunately, that plant only lived for several years. I missed having it last year, so this year I took steps to plant more Wild Blue Lupine in my yard.

Wild Blue Lupine is a native plant species that grows naturally in Oak Savannahs and Pine Barrens, which means that it is a native plant to our area of Wisconsin. It also supports other species and conservation of this habitat is imperative because it is a habitat that is globally threatened. So, anything private land owners can do to support the habitat for the Karner Blue in areas of Oak Savannahs and Pine Barrens also supports the preservation of theses increasingly area  of land. In fact, in Wisconsin there is a landowner group that supports the conservation of Karner Blue Habitat. You can read about that here.

I obtained a tray of Wild Blue Lupine (38 plants) from Prairie Moon Nursery in Winona Minnesota this spring. I have planted 28 of them around my yard. The plants were healthy and a good size. However, I am not sure we have the correct soil to support the growth of these plants. I hope they grow well and eventually might attract some Karner Blue even though we reside slightly outside the range of this tiny butterfly.

tray of lupine
Wild Blue Lupine from Prairie Moon Nursery in Winona, MN.

And although the gardens at the school where I now work are over-planted, I might take the remainder of the plants there. There are some Russell Hybrid Lupines already in the garden beds, and the addition of the Wild Blue Lupines would be welcome, I’m sure.  I also think I could spare a few of these plants, so if you are a local friend of mine and think you’d like to plant a Wild Blue Lupine in your yard, let me know! I can get you a plant!

There are many reasons to be involved in conservation efforts for this butterfly (and others). They are part of the food web, they are aesthetically beautiful, and they are pollinators! It is Pollinator Week here in the United States, so I wanted to write at least one post on the importance of saving our pollinators. Did you know that it is estimated that one in every three bites of our food is due to the role our pollinators play in the environment? Without pollinators, we will have much less food! This is definitely a reason to take action!

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Slice of Life Tuesday: What Brings Me Joy

Slice of Life Tuesday: What Brings Me Joy

Yesterday, June 18th, 2018, I wrote about finding joy and the steps I will be taking to do just that. My initial actions were two-fold. 1) Make a list of the things that bring me joy, and 2) obtain some books on being joyful and/or finding joy.

I did neither of these things right away but instead focused on some routine Monday activities. First, I kept the laundry going my husband had started. This merely entailed folding a load, transferring another load, and starting a third.  Then, from 8:45 a.m. until 11:10 a.m. I retreated to my new writing office (door open) and worked on my blog. I also caught up on a few emails and made blueberry muffins.  By 11:15, I was outside, ready to pot up some more plants (you can never, ever have enough plants), and discovered I did not have enough soil. My husband had the day off and had just left minutes before to go to the hardware store, so I texted him to see if he could bring a bag of potting soil home.  In the meantime, I opened a 36 pound bag of Milorganite I had purchased last Thursday and started fertilizing some of our vegetable plants.  I will write about Milorganite in another post, but am going this route to fertilize this year.  As I was weeding the tomatoes and peppers, my husband arrived home with the soil. But, here is the caveat.  I did not jump from what I was doing to go pot. I finished the task at hand. After refilling the bird feeder and breaking for lunch, I proceeded back outside. (It was hot and humid , so I did change my attire into something less heat trapping than jeans and a long sleeved dry fit shirt.) Next, I decided to tackle the strawberry bed. It wasn’t too bad, but needed some weeding and some Milorganite, too. Although I felt like stopping mid-way through due to the heat and humidity, I did not. It was looking nice and I wanted a finished job – again, I noted that I simply stuck with the task at hand instead of being pulled away to something else.  Before I took off my gardening attire, however, I found three more monarch caterpillars on my rose milkweed.  I added them to the container in my kitchen. I now have one egg, five chrysalises, and seven caterpillars. (I had four before I added these three.) Each year I love taking care of this species more and more.

Mid-afternoon came and I switched my outfit yet again and headed out to the local bookstore, which consists of the nearby Barnes and Noble. Being a hot Monday afternoon, it was nearly empty – just the way I like it. I took my time perusing the books, looking over the titles, tables of contents, and even skimming a few pages. It reminded me of how much I like information and love to read.  I picked out a couple in the self-help section – one on joy and one on mindful aging. Next, I want to say I wandered to the business section but I really purposely went there to get a book, of which the subject and content I will not disclose here. If you read my post from earlier yesterday, you will know that I am supposed to be finding something just for me and not share what it is at the current time. So, the book I put in my “to buy” stack fit that criteria.  You’ll just have to be satisfied knowing I found something that struck a chord.  Lastly, I headed over the the fiction section. Since early May I have read two novels by Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale, and Night Road. Both were excellent reads. I wasted no time in selected a third novel of her’s called Firefly Lane.  Before I checked out, I made one last stop in the book store – in the reference section – and again, that is all you are going to get from me on that subject. But, while I was intrigued by a few titles there, I did not add to my “to purchase” stack. I need to do a little more research first on what type of reference to buy.

Now, I am home once again. I did check my email regarding a job related post that had to be written and sent out today.  But, today has been a really good day. Have I thought about what gives me joy? Yes! My list is starting. Perhaps, I’ll share it when I give you an update in July. But, given my activities of the day – I’ll bet you can guess at least a couple things on the list.

Most notable, however, is that I was mindful of HOW I conducted myself today. I did not rush from activity to activity. Once I started something, I stuck with it until finished. This reduction of multi-tasking was notable and something which I will have to keep an eye on. It might be a key element in my search for joy.

This post is part of the Slice of Life Tuesday Blog Forum hosted by the TwoWritingTeachers.org blog. Thank you for building a wonderfully supportive writing community in which all are welcome! 

Poetry Friday: My Gardens

Poetry Friday: My Gardens

What follows is a free verse poem about my gardens – gardens at home and at school.

Although it is not my first poem, it is my first submission to Poetry Friday.  I hope enjoy the vision of these special places that I tried to share with you today.

 

 

My Gardens

My gardens are alive again.

First, the vibrant greens spring up from

the crusted brown, hardened earth.

Then, patches of color appear.

Soft lavender, peach, and pink

in the brown, encircled by green

spear-shaped foliage. Now, a more vibrant

deep, Celtic purple reigns on

elongated, elegant stems.

The irises are in bloom after the pink hyacinth and

Bleeding Hearts have receded.

Color is ushered in by warmer and brighter days.

The need to plant more and more colorful annuals –

petunias, marigolds, alyssum, and kale,

Over takes my mind and wallet.

Now the milkweed is knee-high,

Already laden with eggs

and caterpillars

from

visiting Monarchs.

IMG_1511

Daily visits to my monarch habitat ensue.

Bees and Hummingbirds visit

regularly, stopping often

to gather pollen or

sip nectar.

Even a bright male Gold Finch stops by the feeder

set out to attract the smaller Ruby Red.

The Lupine in their array of pastel shades

are especially lovely this year.

IMG_1505

Yes, my gardens are alive.

And, as such, so am I.

Monarch Migration Update & How to Report Sightings as a Citizen Scientist

Monarch Migration Update & How to Report Sightings as a Citizen Scientist

Journey North, an organization that monitors migrations of some of most beloved species of animals, posts updates on the Monarch Butterfly on Thursdays. Their site also has a wealth of other information for those interested in teaching or learning about the patterns found in nature such as seasons or life cycles. It is a user-friendly and informative source for the nature lover or citizen scientist.

Common Milkweed
Milkweed at school May 15, 2018

This week’s migration report on Monarchs informed us that the northward migration is nearing completion with monarchs being reported in places such as South Dakota, Wisconsin, and even Ontario, Canada.  As reported last week, my home milkweed has erupted from its winter sleep and anxiously awaits a visiting butterfly. The milkweed in the school garden which has been visited frequently in the last week, also has rapidly growing stems of Milkweed.

Since the milkweed has germinated, I can report this observation to the Journey North website, as I have done in year’s past. Here is how you do it:

  1. Go to Journey North’s home page at http://www.learner.org/jnorth/
  2. Select Report Sightings
  3. This will take you to a log in page. I can sign in using my email and password. If you have never used the site before you’ll need to create an account.
  4. Once you are signed in you can select an event from a drop down list. Here is a screen shot of what that might look like. It will also give you an idea of what you can monitor, observe, and report as a citizen scientist. You can see that milkweed is checked. You simply choose what you want to report on. Click submit.

Screenshot 2018-05-19 08.31.30

5. This will take you to a page where you report your sighting. This will ask you for information like were you are located by using your postal zip code, what you saw, when you saw it, and include a photograph if you have one. Once all your information is entered, you simply click submit report. The site saves information for you.

6. You did it! You reported your sighting and acted as a citizen scientist! Congratulations!

Now, you can go back at anytime to retrieve that information. You can also go into the data base and look for other recent sightings for a specific species or event. For example, here is a list of all my reported sightings.  This is helpful to be able to go back and look for trends. You can also just look for specific sightings. Mine are all on monarchs and milkweed but I can sort the data base for one or both of those sightings. It is helpful if you are interested in such things like the effects of global warming, or habitat loss, and population numbers of a specific species such as the monarch.

Screenshot 2018-05-19 08.43.15

So, I encourage you to look at the Journey North website. It truly has something for everyone and even if you do not want to report, you can learn about all nature has to offer!

As May Leafs Out and Rains

As May Leafs Out and Rains

As I sit on my couch and look outside,

it is pouring. Rain is steadily pounding our

deck, forming puddles that start as a few droplets but coalesce

into larger pools of shiny wetness. It is a quiet soaking rain, void of

angry thunder and shocking bolts of light.

IMG_1277

The house is quiet. I listen to the pouring rain,

a sound I have always found comfort in. It’s steady,

rhythmic, continuous beat signifies the season of

new life.

 

In the last two days our maple trees have leafed out.

Swollen buds have burst forth with verdant extensions of

tender foliage, not yet thick enough to obscure the branches but

opening upright on the tips of each in almost a smile like fashion.

The plum trees are blooming. Unfortunate is the timing because the

bees will not visit in the rain, signaling a possibly slim summer harvest.

IMG_1278

 

May. It has never been my favorite month. Caught between the end and

new beginnings, Some days full of bright promise, others

so dark with gloom.

Full of transitions, end of year stress, and racing

to finish obligations agreed to

many months before.

Today, instead of more cleaning in the garden bed as

planned, I will stay home, finish some school work and

listen to the comforting

sound of nature as the earth awakens

and becomes green once again.

 

IMG_1279

Snow, Monarchs, and Fruit Trees: Haphazard Ramblings

Snow, Monarchs, and Fruit Trees: Haphazard Ramblings

This morning I am having some trouble deciding what to post.  As I was scrolling through my social media feed I noticed that a page out of Texas was having trouble with people stealing their content and posting it as their own, without any attribution. Their page is used to educate the public on the Monarch Butterfly and is filled with a plethora of information! They do a great job. But, let’s just say that using content without the permission of the owner or attribution of the original creator is wrong and leave it at that. We all know there are copyright laws.  Enough said.

Spring Snow

Then, I looked outside. Snow! It is extremely sunny but we got six inches of snow over the last 24 hours.  It’s beautiful – no doubt! But, it is also April 4th!  Despite having five days off for Spring Break, my boys were hoping to be off today for a snow day. No luck. But, Spring is always iffy, that is for sure!

We’ve had spring weather in the last few years where it reached 80 degrees in March. Our fruit tree buds swelled and blossomed in the sun and warmth, only to not have any pollinators be around to help make the fruit. Naturally, it got cold again and we had a very small harvest. And, we have times like this, cold & snow sitting on the closed buds and grounds, hopefully providing a another blanketing layer of insulation and warmth, not killing the tender, soon to be foliage with frost.  Yes, spring is iffy.

Fruit Trees

Our fruit trees have been trimmed, the branches disposed of, thanks to a friend.  We are hoping the timing of sun, warmth, blossoms and insects all work in concert this spring. A track meet was already canceled that was supposed to take place yesterday. I am sure the tennis match will be cancelled for tomorrow too.  One thing you can count on is that you can’t count on it being spring like in the spring!

The Iconic Monarch Butterfly: Part I in a series

Back to the Monarchs.  On Thursdays, the organization Journey North posts updates on Monarch migration.  If you visit the linked page today, you will see the post from last Thursday, March 29th. As you can see, the generation of Monarchs that overwinter in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Central Mexico are headed north! As they move further and further towards us in the upper mid-west, they are reproducing and laying eggs.The monarchs that arrive in our yards in late Spring and Early Summer are descendants of the butterflies that overwinter in Mexico.  The adult female monarch typically only lays eggs on milkweed plants along the way.  Habitat loss has made a major contribution to the Monarch’s plight.  It is essential there be milkweed for the monarchs as that species of plant sustains their entire life cycle.

latemonarchs15reHRWM

Monarch conservation and habitat restoration has become a huge part of my life over the last 15 years. I am not new to their cause and therefore have a multitude of experience and knowledge which I can share with you. If you are interested in knowing more about what experience I have, please check out:  A Journey in Habitat Conservation & Restoration for the Monarch Butterfly.  I hope you stop back for some regular posts from this blog on The Iconic Monarch Butterfly!

Now, we just need the snow to melt!

Spring Haiku

Spring Haiku

 

Spring Beckons A Smile

Sun Warms Our Soil and our Souls

Welcome New Season


Maple Buds Ready

Plump Knobs Containing Green Leaves

Silently Opens


White Clouds Reflecting

Bright Sunshine in the Blue Sky

Whispers of Spring Call


Spring: Bright Clouds White Snow

Light Dances Off Every Surface

Teasing Us Forward


Yellow Daffodils

Soon to be Springing Up Now

Trumpets Announcing