Let’s talk about Bees, Butterflies and Bats…
In case you have been out of the news loop, over the last couple of years two of the world’s most well known pollinators have been disappearing in record numbers. Both bees and butterflies are vital to our eco-system and agricultural industry, along with bats.
Although the cause for the disappearance of bees and butterflies has not been confirmed, there are a few speculations: the first being pesticides that contain neonics, a nerve-poisoning pesticide and the second theory for bees is their larvae is being destroyed by mites.
While scientists, researchers and politicians figure out how to stop the decline of these important insects and mammal there are a few things you can do in your yard to help them.
Create a flutter of colour in your yard
According to Monarch Watch the first step in creating a butterfly friendly garden is to research what butterflies live in your neck of the country. The best way is to observe butterflies in your area. Butterflies feed on nectar and like colour. It is recommended to plant flowers that will bloom at different times during the summer season. Once you choose your flowers make sure you plant the shorter ones in front and the taller plants in the back and clump them together by species and colour because when butterflies search for food large splashes of colour, which will catch their attention.
NOTE: Do NOT use pesticides in your garden as they may be detrimental to your hard work and will kill the bees, butterflies and bats you attract to your yard.
Bees look for bright, nectar and pollen rich plants. They like blue, purple, violet, white and yellow flowers. Make sure you plant them in clumps about four feet in diameter instead of scattering them; like butterflies, bees are more likely to find the large splashes of colour.
The stark reality is if bees die off they are taking us with them as they are one of our major pollinators. Along with creating a bee friendly garden you can make a bee bath that will be beneficial to bees, ladybugs, butterflies and predatory wasps. They need fresh water to drink; however, most can’t land in a birdbath without crashing. As bee master Brian Campbell notes, “They’re like tanks with wings.”
Create a Bee Bath
Line a shallow bowl or plate with rocks
Add water, leaving the rocks as dry islands to serve as landing pads
Place the bath at ground level in your garden
Add new water daily to replenish the water that has evaporated
Flowers they Love –Some of the shrubs and plants that attract butterflies and bees
Shrubs: Azalea – spring
Lilacs – spring
Annuals: Alyssum – summer/fall
Impatiens – summer/fall
Zinnias – summer/fall
Perennials: Purple Cornflower – summer
Daisies – summer
Butterfly Weed – midsummer
Black-Eyed Susan – late summer
Yarrow – early summer
* In some provinces Milkweed is an invasive weed species
Be a superhero for our fellow friend the bat. While some people may view this insectivorous (a carnivore that eats insects) as a pest, this pest, the brown bat, can consume around 1,200 mosquito-size insects in one hour! With their ability to catch insects bats are regarded as an asset to the agricultural and forest industry. It should be noted that in the United States bats provide insect control services worth $3.7-$53 billion per year. Like bees and butterflies, in some parts of the world bats play a role in pollination and seed dispersal. However, these furry flyers are currently facing three predators: White-Nose Syndrome, Wind Turbines and Habitat Loss.
Fact: Bats evolved 65 to 54.8 million years ago and are more closely related to people than rodents.
White-Nose Syndrome (WNS): White-nose syndrome has been introduced in North America, in the Eastern half of North America. To date white-nose syndrome has not been found in western North America and it is unknown how it would affect the bats indigenous to the west side of the country.
You can help these winged super bug eaters by building a bat house and hanging it in your backyard. For more information visit www.helpthebats.ca.
*Please check with your local Canadian Forces Housing Agency to ensure it is okay to hang a bat house in your backyard.
**This article was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue**
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