Beguilding Beetls in the Wildflife Garden Article by Heather Holm from Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens

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Beetles are a very diverse insect order and many beetles are frequent flower visitors; they are pollinators, beneficial insects predating on problem insect populations such as aphids, as well as parasitoids of other flower visitors. See similar posts about Fantastic Flies and Wonderful Wasps
The two most common flower visitors are soldier beetles (Cantharidae family) and long-horned beetles (Cerambycidae family). Beetles visit flowers to feed on pollen and nectar. Some have hairs on their tongue tip that act like pollen brushes, but typically they use their mandibles for chewing pollen grains.

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Beetle Life Cycles and the Greater Food Web – It’s All Connected
Many beetle larvae are wood-boring, feeding on wood fibers or the fungus that inhabits decaying wood. By leaving dead standing trees (snags), or downed tree logs on the ground (nurse logs) in your landscape, you are providing valuable habitat for beetle larvae and the birds who feed on the larvae such as woodpeckers. Many native bee species use the abandoned wood burrows made by beetle larvae as nesting sites. Some examples include leafcutter bees, Megachile spp., mason bees, Osmia spp. and carpenter bees, Xylocopa spp.
Banded Longhorn Beetles, Typocerus velutinus

Banded Longhorn Beetles, Typocerus velutinus
Common on coneflowers, this beetle feeds on pollen and nectar, their larvae are wood-boring.

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Beetles can sometimes be destructive; some are not delicate flower visitors by any means, their mandibles chew on flower parts and foliage causing damage in some cases. For example, these blister beetles, Lytta sayi, are destructive feeders on legume flowers such as wild white indigo, Baptisia alba.

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Many flower visiting beetles have hairy bodies where pollen grains attach aiding in the pollination of flowers. They often show a preference for white, cream or green colored flowers, with a strong, fruity or fermenting odor. The hard wings (elytra) provide some protection to beetles while they visit flowers. They are not easily scared off by other flower-visiting insects and will spend several minutes on a flower feeding on floral resources.

Locust Borer Beetle, Megacyllene robiniae
Locust borer beetles feed on pollen and are found on many goldenrod species in late summer. A possible survival strategy is to mimic wasps with black and yellow coloring, a good bird deterrent. The larvae of this beetle excavate tunnels in the wood of black locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia).

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Blister Beetles, Nemognatha spp.
These blister beetles are common on black-eyed susans, often feeding on nectar. They have strange looking mouthparts consisting of long maxillae that they use to suck nectar, they can also feed on pollen with their mandibles. Females lay their eggs on flowers, when the larvae hatch, they attach themselves to visiting bees and are carried back to the bee nests. The beetle larvae kill the bee larvae and consume the bee provisions of pollen and nectar.

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Fire-Colored Beetles, Pedilus spp.
Fire-colored beetles are common flower-visitors in the spring. Larvae feed on fungi in decaying wood. Look for these beetles on flowers near woods often where blister beetles occur. Male fire-colored beetles will climb onto blister beetles, prompting them to release cantharidin, a defensive chemical. The male fire-colored beetles then lick the cantharidin off the blister beetle and use the chemical to attract females. When the male beetles mate with females, the cantharidin is transferred to the female. Her eggs are coated with cantharidin which helps protect them from predation.

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PREDATION (BENEFICIAL INSECTS)

Soldier Beetles, Family Cantharidae
Soldier beetles visit flowers for pollen and nectar, they are very common in mid- to late-summer.Their narrow head, thorax, and maxillary tongue allow them to access flower nectar in fairly deep flower corollas.Considered a beneficial insect, soldier beetle larvae feed on aphids, fly larvae, small caterpillars, beetle larvae and grasshopper eggs. Some adults in this family also feed on aphids. One defense mechanism of soldier beetles is to secrete a chemical compound so they are unpalatable to predators.

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Ladybird Beetles, Cycloneda spp.
Both adults and larvae feed on soft-bodied insects (mainly aphids) and are utilized in the biological control of aphids. Females can consume hundreds of aphids before laying eggs. These beetles overwinter in groupings as adults and emerge in spring. Look for ladybird beetle eggs laid near aphid clusters, often under the flowerheads.

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Wedge Shaped Beetle, Macrosiagon limbatum
A distinctive, triangular-shaped small beetle. Both male and female wedge-shaped beetles are found on native plants visited by wasps (and bees), where the female lays her eggs on the foliage. When an egg hatches the tiny first stage larva attaches itself to a visiting wasp or bee. The host carries it back to its nest where the beetle larva burrow into the host larva and live as an internal parasite.The developing wedge-shaped beetle larva continues to consume its host from the inside and eventually emerges from the host body. It then proceeds to feed on the host from the outside until the host dies.

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Tiphiid Wasp, Myzinum spp.
These wasps visit late summer natives for nectar. Males have a menacing looking ‘pseudostinger’ on the end of their abdomen. Females burrow into the ground and lay their eggs on scarab beetle grubs which their larvae consume as they develop.

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Milkweed Leaf Beetle, Labidomera clivicollis
Milkweed leaf beetles are one of several beetles who specialize feeding on the foliage of milkweed (Asclepias) plants. Overwintering adults emerge in early spring. Females typically lay their eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves; look for bright red to orange egg clusters. Larvae hatch and develop in several instar stages during the summer months and feed on milkweed flowers and foliage. Adults are again active in the fall preparing to overwinter.

2013 Heather Holm Native Plants & Wildlife Garden Website

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Enhanced Bird Feeding Station Video Using Dormant Native Plant Material

Enhanced Bird Feeding Station Video Using Dormant Native Plant Material


Earthyman explains about how to build an enhanced bird feeding station using dormant native plant material. Here he’s used White Wild Indigo (Baptisia leucantha) from Native Wildflowers and Seeds. http://www.nativewildflowersandseeds.com

Featured Plant of the Week ANEMONE PATENS | Pasque Flower

ANEMONE PATENS | Pasque Flower

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Pasque Flower (Anemone patens) – Found in all prairie regions from the Arctic Circle to the Southern United States. It is the earliest of all prairie flowers blooming in March and April. Grows from 2 inches to 16 inches and sports a single blue, purple or white flower on a long, thin stem. Pasque flowers do not have true petals; instead it is the sepals that give the flower color.

Ranunculaceae Family – From the Greek term anemone, meaning “wind” which probably refers to seed distribution or perhaps because the delicate stems and leaves sometimes appear to tremble in the wind and patens, meaning “spreading”.

Medicinal Uses:
Pasque Flower was one of the native prairie species that was included on the official United States pharmacopoeia catalog from 1882 to 1918 because of its diuretic, expectorant and menstrual-inducing qualities. Native Americans used this species for treating the pain of rheumatism and other painful conditions. It was used as a diaphoretic, a diuretic and as a salve or wash to treat boils, burns and sore eyes. Healing of wounds was often accelerated using the entire plant, dried and ground, applied to the wound. Great caution was used when using this species as a medicine because it contains alkaloids that can cause depression, nervousness and intestinal distress

WARNING:
It should be noted that Pasque flower is poisonous. It is extremely irritating both internally and externally and use of this plant should be avoided.

To Purchase This Spring Blooming Plant Please Visit Our Website at Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

 

News Release Global Great Backyard Bird Count Shatters Records

News Release Global Great Backyard Bird Count Shatters Records

February 21, 2013–From Antarctica to Afghanistan, bird watchers from 103 countries made history in the first global Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 15–18, 2013. In the largest worldwide bird count ever, bird watchers set new records, counting more than 25.5 million birds on 120,000+ checklists in four days—and recording 3,144 species, nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species. The data will continue to flow in until March 1.

Building on the success of the GBBC in the United States and Canada for the past 15 years, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada opened the count to the rest of the world for the first time this year, powered by eBird, a system that enables people to report birds globally in real-time and explore the results online. Bird watchers are invited to keep counting every day of the year at www.eBird.org.

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Common Redpoll by Missy Mandel, Ontario, 2013 GBBC

Cornell Lab director Dr. John Fitzpatrick says:
“This is a milestone for citizen science in so many respects—number of species, diversity of countries involved, total participants, and number of individual birds recorded. We hope this is just the start of something far larger, engaging the whole world in creating a detailed annual snapshot of how all our planet’s birds are faring as the years go by.”

Audubon Chief Scientist Gary Langham:
“People who care about birds can change the world,” said Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. “That’s why this year’s record-setting global participation is so exciting. Technology has made it possible for people everywhere to unite around a shared love of birds and a commitment to protecting them.”

Other Key Preliminary Findings:
Top 5 Most Reported Species (reported on highest number of checklists): Northern Cardinal; Dark-eyed Junco; Mourning Dove; Downy Woodpecker; House Finch
Top 5 Most Common Birds (most individuals reported): Snow Goose; Canada Goose; Red-winged Blackbird; European Starling; American Coot
Finch Invasion: A massive number of northern finch species moved into the U.S. including the Common Redpoll, reported in a record 36 states. Scientists believe these periodic movements are related to natural fluctuations in crops of conifer cones and other seeds in Canada.
Hurricane Sandy: The weather system that caused Sandy’s landfall also blew some European birds to North America and evidence of this is still showing up in GBBC results. The colorful, crested Northern Lapwing was reported in Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts during the GBBC.
GBBC First: A Red-flanked Bluetail has wintered at Queens Park, Vancouver, and was also reported for the GBBC’s first record ever. This British Columbia bird has been drawing bird watchers from all over the U.S. and Canada hoping to see this rarity. This little thrush is one of the only birds in the world with a striking blue tail and is native to Asia; the other GBBC report of this species this year was from Japan.
For more information, visit www.birdcount.org.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part thanks to founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

Contacts:

Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 607-254-2137, pel27@cornell.edu

David J. Ringer, Director, Media Relations, National Audubon Society, Office 212-979-3062 / Mobile 601-642-7058, dringer@audubon.org

Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada, 250-493-3393 (Pacific Coast time), dcannings@birdscanada.org

Article From Great Backyard Birdcount Website

Restoring the Landscape with Native Plants Article Grass-carrying Wasps ~ Isodontia spp.

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Grass-carrying wasps are a flower-visiting solitary wasp, common in late summer and early fall. Because they are solitary-nesting, and not colonial like yellowjackets or hornets, they do not sting humans to defend their nests. It’s an important distinction to make with wasps in our landscapes, so many are solitary and not aggressive.

 

 

 

Bee2They perform important ecosystem services, pollinating the plants in our landscape, and preying on foliage eating insects, crickets and katydids in particular.

Females look for prey, stinging them several times to paralyze and immobilize them. They carry their prey back to their nests, which are preexisting cavities such as hollow stems or holes bored in wood.

 

Bee3 The prey are stocked for their developing larvae to feed upon. Using nearby grasses, nests are divided into sections with pieces of grass, they also close the end of nest with grass.

Bee4If you erect a mason bee nest board (board with nesting holes drilled in it), grass-carrying wasps will sometimes build nests in the cavities. Look for pieces of grass sticking out the ends of the board holes or plant stems.

I have several different variations of stem nests hung in the yard for solitary bees (and wasps), this one in particular has been utilized almost exclusively by grass-carrying wasps. Cup plant and pale Indian plantain stems work extremely well, both are hollow.

Bee5Here’s a cross-section of one of those stems with the wasp larvae and stocked prey. In my yard, the grass-carrying wasps like to use little blue stem to seal off the cavities.

Bee6Look for grass-carrying wasps in late summer. In my yard, they like to visit stiff goldenrod, common boneset and pale Indian plantain flowers for nectar.

 

 

 

 

 

Article Posted From Restoring The Landscape Website

If You Are Interested In Purchasing Our Pollinator Seed Mix Please Visit Us At Our Website Native Wildflowers & Seeds From Ion Exchange, Inc.

 

 

Featured Plant of the Week AMORPHA FRUTICOSA | False Indigo

AMORPHA FRUTICOSA | False Indigo

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Product Description
False Indigo (Amorpha Fruiticosa) is common in moist prairie thickets and along streams and rivers in prairies throughout the Tallgrass Region. Not as common east of Illinois. Large, bushy shrubs can reach 10 feet, generally 5 to 6 feet. Blooms from late spring to midsummer. Also known as Desert False Indigo, Indigobush, and Indigo Bush.

Amorpha from the Greek amorphos meaning “without shape” which refers to the flower having only one petal. Legume.

Plant Family: Fabaceae

Sun Exposure Savanna, Prairie
Soil Moisture Mesic, Wet Mesic, Dry Mesic
Bloom Time Late Spring, Summer
June, July, August
Bloom Color Purple
Max. Height 10 Feet
Wetland Code FACW+
Germ Code C(10), I
Seeds Per Packet 100
Seeds Per Ounce 3,700

Edible Uses: The crushed fruit is used as a condiment.

Medicinal Uses: No known medicinal uses reported.

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Photo Of The Week from The Prairie Ecologist Website Silphium Integrifolium | Rosinweed by Chris Helzer/The Nature Conservancy

It’s a tough time of year to be a wildflower photographer. The first spring flowers are still months away, and fall flowers are a distant memory. What’s a guy to do? Gotta make the best of things, I guess.

Here’s a shot from a few weeks ago when we still had snow on the ground.

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A frosty rosinweed seed head in winter prairie. Aurora, Nebraska.

Many wildflowers lose the majority of their flower parts as winter sets in, making them relatively uninteresting to photograph. Rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium) is an exception; while this one has lost its seeds, it has retained much of its characteristic shape, making it easy to identify and fun to photograph.

The frost doesn’t hurt either.

Article from The Prairie Ecologist Website

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Rosinweed In Full Bloom

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President’s Day Special On Wildflowers, Prairie Plants at Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

President’s Day Special

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Get a jump start on your Spring Planting with our President’s Day Special. Contains 84 wildflower, prairie plants that will provide color throughout the seasons.

A special price for a special person.

The Package contains 7 each of the following species:

New England Aster
Anise Hyssop
Lanceleaf Coreopsis
Oxeye Sunflower
Sweet Black-eyed Susan
Rose Milkweed
Blue Vervain
Purple Coneflower
Pale Purple Coneflower
Yellow Coneflower
Canada Milkvetch
Wild Petunia

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Featured Plant of the Week: Bidens Connata | Swamp Purplestem Beggartick

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Product Description

Swamp Purplestem (Bidens Connata) consists of flowers with ray florets absent. Base of flower with a circle of leaflike, elongate bracts. Seeds (achenes) with two barbs. Leaves undivided, elongate, heavily toothed, occurring in opposite pairs along the stem. Plant 1 to 6 feet in height.

Sun Exposure: Prairie
Soil Moisture: Wet, Wet Mesic
Bloom Time: Summer, Fall – August, September, October
Bloom Color: Yellow
Max Height: 4 Feet

To Purchase This Native Wildflower Visit Our Website  At
Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

 

News Release: Great Backyard Bird Count Goes Global Feb. 15-18

Bird watchers worldwide invited to participate online

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February 5, 2013—For the first time, anyone anywhere in the world with Internet access can participate in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) February 15-18. Participants simply watch birds at any location for at least 15 minutes, tally the numbers of each species they see, and report their tallies online at www.BirdCount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.

This year, anyone visiting the GBBC website will be able to see bird observations pouring in from around the world and contribute their own tallies. Global participation will be made possible thanks to eBird, a real-time online checklist program that the Cornell Lab and Audubon are integrating into the GBBC for the first time this year. The GBBC is open to anyone of any skill level and welcomes bird observations from any location, including backyards, national parks, gardens, wetlands, and urban landscapes. The four-day count typically receives sightings from tens of thousands of people reporting more than 600 bird species in the United States and Canada alone.

“We’re eager to see how many of the world’s 10,240 bird species will be reported during the count this year,” said Cornell Lab director John Fitzpatrick. “We’re looking forward to this historic snapshot of birds that that will be reported from around the world. We need as many people as possible to help build the wealth of data that scientists need to track the health of bird populations through time.”

Participants will be able to view what others are seeing on interactive maps and contribute their tallies for ongoing bird research and conservation efforts. For the first time, participants will also be able to upload their counts from the field using the eBird BirdLog app for Apple or Android smartphones. To celebrate the new global reach of the count, developers of the eBird BirdLog app are offering regional versions of the app for just 99 cents through February 18. Learn more

Just how big is this year’s irruption of northern finches and other species such as the Red-breasted Nuthatch? GBBC reports will help define the answer. Photo by Christine Haines, 2012 GBBC. “This count is so much fun because anyone can take part, whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher,” said Gary Langham, Audubon’s Chief Scientist. “Invite new birders to join and share the experience. Once you get involved, you can continue with eBird year round.”

“The popularity of the Great Backyard Bird Count grows each year,” said Dick Cannings, Senior Projects Officer at Bird Studies Canada, “and with the new features, participation will be even more exciting.”

Participating is easy. To learn more about how to join the count, get bird ID tips, plus downloadable instructions, web buttons, and flyers, visit www.BirdCount.org. The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter at least one bird checklist online. Portions of the GBBC site are also now available in Spanish at www.ContandoAves.org.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.