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Alternatives to Mosquito Control

By: Stacey Wildberger

Anyone that has spent a summer in Cape St Claire knows we have mosquitoes.  Living near the water is often blamed for the infestation each summer but most of the mosquitoes come right from your own backyard.  Mosquitoes often don’t travel far so it is important to survey your yard and see what you can do to prevent their arrival in the first place.  Mosquitoes need suitable aquatic breeding habitats to complete their life cycle.  Eliminate any sources of open water where the mosquitoes can lay and grow their eggs and stop them before they lay the eggs.  Water can accumulate in bird baths, old tires, rain barrels streams, ponds, ditches, flower pots, roof gutters and unused swimming pools or covers. There are several things you can do: change your bird baths every couple of days, empty and overturn any vessels where water can sit in, use screens on your rain barrels, pull covers and tarps taut and enlist the help of good bugs and other natural predators in your backyard ponds.  Water also accumulates in the dense patches of English Ivy so consider removing this highly invasive plant to reduce mosquito breeding grounds.

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Native Plants vs Nativars

By: Stacey Wildberger

I have been writing about using natives in your backyard landscape and the benefits they provide to wildlife but what about the nativars we hear so much about and see in the local garden center?   As you start adding to your gardens this spring it is important to understand what a native straight species plant is vs a nativar or cultivar of a native plant.

Nativars are cultivars of native plants that have been propagated for specific “desirable” traits. They are becoming increasingly popular as alternatives to native “straight species”.   A native plant is a plant species that occurs naturally in a particular region, habitat, or ecosystem.  A nativar is a result of artificial selection- its traits have been selected by humans for some particular need to improve on the natural. The colors, bloom size/ shape, and even their height have been altered for our gardens. While a native freely propagates or self sows in the wild and in your garden a nativar cannot propagate naturally.

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Creating Biodiversity By: Stacey Wildberger

“Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well what is economically expedient.  A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”  –Aldo Leopold. A Sand County Almanac

Have you ever considered your backyard as the last chance to sustain nature, create biodiversity and provide habitat? Or what your role is in preserving the natural world for future generations? We have a responsibility to be good stewards of our landscapes.

Our lawns, gardens and common spaces have always been expected to be a place of beauty, relaxation and an expression of ourselves and that the natural world existed somewhere else. Doug Tellamy, author of Bringing Nature Home states ” We have always thought that biodiversity was happy somewhere out there in nature.”  We were never taught that species are disappearing everyday from our world and how their disappearance affects our own well-being.

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Resolutions: 2017 By Stacey Wildberger

Webster defines resolution as a firm decision to do or not to do something or the action of solving a problem, dispute or contentious matter.  Every year millions of us make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, but most of us, me included, have failed by mid- to late-January.  Lose weight.  Exercise more. Be more patient.  Whatever the resolution  it is hard to stick to it as they are often too large or overly ambitious and they become overwhelming.

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Host Plants for Butterflies

By Stacey Wildberger – January 2017

Everyone has heard about the decline of our most iconic butterfly, the Monarch due to loss of habitat, insecticide use, predation, climate change and a major decline in their host plant-milkweed due to wide spread herbicide use. Milkweed is the only plant a monarch can lay their eggs.  What many people don’t realize is that most butterflies require a specific plant to lay their eggs on. These plants are known as host plants and they provide food for the caterpillar.  While it is important to plant lots of nectar plants for the adult butterfly it is just as important to plant hosts plants for the babies!

Butterflies require several things to raise their young and survive as adults- host plants to lay their eggs, water source for puddling and receiving nutrients and finally nectar plants to sustain themselves in adulthood. We are going to look at the many plants you can add to your gardens to provide a nursery for our Lepidoptera. Read More

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