Purchase Plants that do not Harm Pollinators

Spring is here and we are all excited to buy plants for our gardens.  If you are purchasing plants for a pollinator habitat, are the plants you buying safe for pollinators?  Many bee loving garden plants are being pre-treated with pesticides that are shown to harm and kill bees, according to a new study.

http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/88/f/3354/Gardeners-Beware-Report-11.pdf

The pilot study, co-authored by the Pesticide Research Institute, found 7 of 13 samples of garden plants purchased at top retailers in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay area and Minneapolis contain neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids that studies show could harm or kill bees and other pollinators.

Systemic pesticides, like neonics, are absorbed by plants after being applied to the leaves, seeds or soil.  The pesticide persists in the plant for the whole season. When bees and other pollinators feed on the flowers and pollen of plants treated with neonics, they ingest the insecticide.

Before buying plants from any seller, ask them whether they use neonicotinoid pesticides or buy plants treated with them.  If you plant from seeds, consider using seeds collected from plants you know to be untreated or purchased from retailers who do not sell pre-treated seeds.

MJ

blanketflower

blanketflower

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EPA issues new pesticide labels to help protect pollinators

Apologies for the snippets and links, but important to get the information out:

Just released:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled new labels that prohibit the use of some of the controversial pesticides containing neonicotinoids where bees are present.

Here is the official press release from the EPA: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/C186766DF22B37D485257BC8005B0E64

NBC News release: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/epa-issues-new-pesticide-labels-warn-about-hazards-bees-6C10931490

Take a peek at the official EPA Bee Advisory Box label here http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ecosystem/pollinator/bee-label-info-graphic.pdf

Summary of federal efforts to protect pollinators: http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/ecosystem/pollinator/index.html

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

Create Your Own Pollinator Garden

Skipper on dotted gayfeather

Skipper on native dotted gayfeather – Spring Creek Prairie near Denton, NE

We’re waiting until fall to transplant some perennials and shrubs into the Cherry Creek Habitat – it’s just too hot now. If you’re thinking of creating a pollinator friendly landscape, now’s a good time to do some planning. You could start your project this fall. Here are some tips from the U.S. Forest Service:

  • Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall. Plant in clumps or groups instead of single plantings of a flower. Try to use plants native to your area. Oh and don’t forget night-blooming flowers for moths and bats.
  • Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially those with “doubled” flowers. These flowers may look beautiful to us, but plant breeders may have sacrificed pollen, nectar and fragrance for their “modern” beauty.
  • Eliminate pesticides whenever possible. Follow an Integrated Pest Management approach (IPM). Continue reading

The Field Bindweed Lesson

Soldier beetle in a field bindweed flower

Soldier beetle in a field bindweed flower

Field Bindweed: described as “a spreading perennial difficult to control because of its above ground runners that can spread many feet from the mother plant, as well as an extensive below ground rhizome system. Hand-pulling is good exercise but probably not effective for control.”

Personally, I’ve always had negative experiences involving field bindweed. Growing up, “we kids” were assigned the duty of trying to pull the tough, persistent weed out of the vegetable and flower gardens. It was a never-ending job and the plant seemed to enjoy watching us suffer year after year. Today, I found revenge – an article on bindweed control. I know… I smiled. “Field bindweed aggressively spreading right now, but control is easy“. Great news! Control is finally easy! I still hesitate to call any control of bindweed “easy” but decided it was something visitors to our office Web site would be interested in. Needing a photo to go with the feature, I headed straight out my door to my perennial bed. No problem finding field bindweed. It has followed me wherever I’ve tried to garden and I still try to hand pull it, without success.

Feeling like the end of my battle with the weed may soon be over, I centered my camera over one of the morning glory-like flowers on the field bindweed. Now, here’s why I’m even posting any of this on a pollinator habitat page.  Looking through my camera lens, I see a soldier beetle busy serving its role as a pollinator by taking in nectar from the bindweed flower. When we think of plants for pollinators, we sometimes forget that even plants we “humans” don’t want, can be important to insects and wildlife.  I paused, stood up and took another look at my landscape. The “invasive weeds” in my beds were buzzing with activity – honeybees on the creeping bellflower and tiny insects on the wild four o’clock.  I’ve been so busy adding “pretty” plants for pollinators, I’ve forgotten to look at what I already have like white clover and my Linden tree (blooming now).

So what will I do? Oh, I’ll continue to manually control invasive plants like the bindweed and bellflower – they have the upper hand anyway so there will always be a few for the local pollinator population. And, I’ll try to bump up my tolerance a bit and see some of these plants as “beautiful” in my garden. It is also an important reminder to use caution when considering any pesticides because beneficial wildlife can be everywhere and that’s a very good thing!

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

Sensitive Sites, Pollinators and DriftWatch

This YouTube video from UNL Extension discusses sensitive sites, pesticides and their impact on pollinators. There are also suggestions on what farmer’s can do to reduce the risks to pollinators if they choose to use certain pesticides and by leaving habitat, like tree lines. Buzz Vance (yes, his name really is Buzz) from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture explains the current situation. Buzz is also a beekeeper so he has a personal interest in making sure our pollinator populations are healthy.

Near the end of the video is a segment on DriftWatch at https://driftwatch.org/ – an important tool for anyone with sensitive specialty crops and for producers using any pesticides around bees and other sensitive sites.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu