Tag Archives: Spring

[IOWA-INSECTS] Monarch butterfly research story

Here in SE MN I noticed the same lack of Monarchs in mid-summer. We also had robust milkweeds with very few larvae. I heard from (entomologically oriented) folks in NE MN that in June they saw far more Monarchs than usual, but with their relatively low population of milkweeds the Monarch seemed to overload the larval food plant. Then in August the flight of Monarchs here in SE MN was the lowest I have every seen.

Joel Dunnette

 

On Tue, Nov 6, 2012 at 8:21 PM, Bruce And Georgeann <crazcoot@evertek.net> wrote:
I have been following this topic and want to ask about another angle of the past summer’s Monarch slump -at least it was in Nw Iowa.

The Monarch Butterflies, were a real concern here this year. We had quite good numbers showing up in early spring – in fact the dates were record early arrivals for us. And I witnessed egg laying in the pasture…even photographed eggs as they were so obvious. But the thing that really puzzled and concerned me was we had no egg hatches and no caterpillars all summer! I have never, in my life, “Not” seen a Caterpillar all spring, summer or fall!!!???!!! Why after finding eggs, I could later not find larva?

Then the summer was “scant” as far as Monarchs were concerned. Nearly none, just a handful all summer. This should not have been the case here, we had the largest crop of Asclepias (milkweeds) that I’ve ever seen here…we had A. tuberosa(Butterfly Milkweed) in record numbers…they were stunning all over the county…even the area farmers were asking me what that “orange plant” is showing up everywhere! We had way more A. syriaca (Common Milkweed) than I care to see here – the neighborhood is coated with seed parachutes from our pasture…not a real “good neighbor” relations maker with the local farmers. We also had a good share (but down slightly from past years) of A. verticillata (Whorled Milkweed) and a small compliment of A. incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) in the ditches out front.

I witnessed a lone Monarch laying eggs on some Common Milkweed outside the studio windows in late August and tried keeping an eye on them – they were gone after just 3 days!? I don’t know of “egg” eaters in the insect world but maybe something is going on? I know of parasitic wasps in caterpillars – but saw NO CATERPILLARS all summer (as I said before). I haven’t the foggiest idea what is going on?

This fall we had virtually no Monarch roosts here – we usually have 150-500 individuals roost here each fall. 13 was our high number in a roost this fall…”6″ was the other high day…”high” used very sarcastically…

Some folks following this have raised issue with the drought hurting the mid section of the continent’s Monarch survival…I’m sure that has some bearing. They also have raised issue with GMO crops. But it does nothing to explain a local phenomenon like we’ve been experiencing here…eggs laid but no hatching, no larva…with an abundance of food source for larva and adult stages. We do not spray insecticides here on the acreage, but I have no knowledge of GMO crops or spraying issues in the surrounding area, so I can’t speak to that.

Am I imagining things or is there anyone else raising these kinds of observations or concerns? …Bruce Morrison, SE O’Brien County

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Native Hitchhikers Article

Mother Nature has designed several modes of transportation for her native plants.  I’m sure most of people are familiar with some of her tactics.  Sometimes it is not a pleasant experience for human beings.  These hitchhikers can stick to you like Velcro or stick into you like needles.

Have you ever walked through a wetland or marshy area?  If you have and if you weren’t watching where you were going, you may have encountered some Beggar Ticks and not noticed them all over your clothing until it was too late.  When your clothing or an animal brushes against the mature seed heads of Beggar Ticks, the individual seeds attach themselves to them by prongs much like a fork.  Some have two while others have 4 prongs.  Once attached, they are in motion to their new resting spot by you or an animal transporting them free of charge to their destination.  Some of the Beggar Ticks may come off your clothing by you brushing up against other vegetation and just knocking the clinging seeds off to fall willy-nilly wherever they may.  If they happen to get picked off or fall off in a wet area, they are vey happy because they can sprout again and secure their existence another year.  In the spring, the seeds will germinate given the proper moist conditions.  If they happen to travel home with you and you decide to pick them off before going into your house, they may fall onto your lawn.  In most cases, this would not be a place where Beggar Ticks could survive because it would be too dry not to mention getting mowed down even if they did.

The next time you are out walking in the summer near a stream or in a wetland, be on the lookout for a plant with many pretty yellow flowers.   It will probably be in the genus of Bidens or Beggar Ticks or Bur Marigold as they are commonly called.  As fall approaches the pretty yellow flowers turn into one of nature’s best-designed hitchhikers.

Howard Bright (Earthyman)

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Planting Native Wildflowers Spring Bloomers Acorus calamus Sweet Flag

Acorus calamus Sweet Flag

Sun Exposure Prairie
Soil Moisture Wet, Wet Mesic
Bloom Time Spring, Early Summer
May, June July
Bloom Color Green
Height 2 feet
Wetland Code OBL
Germ Code C(60)
Seeds Per Packet 300
Seeds Per Ounce 6,600

 

Native Americans chewed the root or made a tea from the dried root for treating gas, stomachaches, indigestion, heartburn, fevers, colds, and coughs; anti-spasmodic, anti-conversant,  central nervous system depressant; in India it has been used for many years as an aphrodisiac. They also chewed the root to stave off thirst and as a stimulant on long journeys.

German studies showed the controlled dosages of the root helped lower serum cholesterol levels in rabbits.

In Appalachia, freshly cut leaves are still used as an insecticide.

The inner portions of the tender young shoots make a very tasty Spring salad. The Pennsylvania Dutch used the root to flavor pickles and the powdered root has been used to make cachets and scent perfumes.

 

Edible Uses:
The rhizome is candied and made into a sweetmeat. It can be peeled and washed to remove the bitterness and then eaten raw like a fruit. It makes a palatable vegetable when roasted and can also be used as a flavouring. Rich in starch, the root contains about 1% of an essential oil that is used as a food flavouring. The root also contains a bitter glycoside. Some caution is advised, see the notes on toxicity.

The dried and powdered rhizome has a spicy flavour and is used as a substitute for ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

The young and tender inflorescence is often eaten by children for its sweetness. Young leaves – cooked. The fresh leaves contain 0.078% oxalic acid. The leaves can be used to flavour custards in the same way as vanilla pods.

The inner portion of young stems is eaten raw. It makes a very palatable salad.

Medicinal Uses:
Sweet flag has a very long history of medicinal use in many herbal traditions. It is widely employed in modern herbal medicine as an aromatic stimulant and mild tonic. In Ayurveda it is highly valued as a rejuvenator for the brain and nervous system and as a remedy for digestive disorders. However, some care should be taken in its use since some forms of the plant might be carcinogenic – see the notes on toxicity for more information.

The root is anodyne, aphrodisiac, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hallucinogenic, hypotensive, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, mildly tonic and vermifuge. It is used internally in the treatment of digestive complaints, bronchitis, sinusitis etc. It is said to have wonderfully tonic powers of stimulating and normalizing the appetite. In small doses it reduces stomach acidity whilst larger doses increase stomach secretions and it is, therefore, recommended in the treatment of anorexia nervosa. However if the dose is too large it will cause nausea and vomiting.

Sweet flag is also used externally to treat skin eruptions, rheumatic pains and neuralgia. An infusion of the root can bring about an abortion whilst chewing the root alleviates toothache. It is a folk remedy for arthritis, cancer, convulsions, diarrhoea, dyspepsia, epilepsy etc. Chewing the root is said to kill the taste for tobacco.

Roots 2 – 3 years old are used since older roots tend to become tough and hollow. They are harvested in late autumn or early spring and are dried for later use. The dry root loses 70% of its weight, but has an improved smell and taste. It does, however, deteriorate if stored for too long.

Caution is advised on the use of this root, especially in the form of the distilled essential oil, since large doses can cause mild hallucinations. See also the notes above on toxicity.

A homeopathic remedy is made from the roots. It is used in the treatment of flatulence, dyspepsia, anorexia and disorders of the gall bladder.

Warning! – Some species are thought to contain the carcinogen beta-asarone. Vapors from the roots do repel some insects. The root, when candied, was a long-time pioneer confection. It was boiled all day long, cut into small pieces, and then boiled again for a few more minutes in thick maple syrup. This “candy” was used most often used to aid digestion, but also used to serve as a tonic and physic.

Sweet Flag