Several times in the past year, this column has discussed the birds and the bees. No, not how babies get here, rather I mean pollinators – bees, butterflies, moths, birds, bats, beetles and many others who are critical to producing food, fiber, medicines and fuel for our growing population. There is plenty of research suggesting that pollinators need our help. Habitat loss, diseases, parasites and environmental contaminants have contributed to their decline. We have three suggestions how you can help.
The Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District is hosting a “pollinator workshop” the evening of Tuesday, July 12, from 7 to 9 p.m. Marci Lininger with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Emilee Hardesty from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (DOW) are the featured speakers.
They will cover the different pollinators that are important in Ohio, plants and trees that attract pollinators, and detailed information on the monarch butterfly and its life cycle. The workshop will be at the Orange Township Hall, 1680 E. Orange Road, Lewis Center. The workshop is free. Reservations are requested by July 11 so that enough handouts are available for all who attend.
This summer marks the first “Statewide Common Milkweed Pod Collection.” Delaware SWCD is working with the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative, USFWS, DOW and the Ohio Department of Transportation to collect common milkweed pods. This plant is essential to the survival of the monarch butterfly and this collection is an effort to increase the number of milkweed plants.
From Sept. 1 through Oct. 30, Delaware SWCD will host an outside collection container for you to drop off pods. The pods will later be processed to collect the seeds which will then be used to expand pollinator habitat around the state. Yes, it is a bit too early to think about collecting pods since most of the milkweed I see is just starting to bloom. However, by telling you now, you can scout out healthy plants and revisit them when it is collection time.
Often milkweed can be found growing along the road berm or road ditch and you can postpone mowing until you have gathered the pods. My father grows milkweed pods in an area of the old pasture field. Last year, he had monarchs that pupated on several milkweeds and was able to contain one for the great-grandkids to enjoy. My grandson, Atticus, was nearly overcome with joy at getting to experience the monarch as it emerged from the cocoon, dry its wings, and wobble to its first flight. It was great fun watching Atticus and his brother, Thurston, experience this firsthand.
For those who are really abuzz over pollinators (get it … buzz like a bee?), mark your calendars for the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative Symposium on Aug. 31. This new annual event will be at the Rhodes Center at the Ohio Expo Center. For $35, which includes continental breakfast and lunch, you can learn from a variety of experts. Guests include Charlie Wooley with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Peter Berthelsen of Nebraska Pheasants and Quail Forever, and Cora Lund Preston with Monarch Joint Adventure. Learn more at http://ohio.apwa.net.
Big projects to small projects — all have the potential to provide a healthier future for pollinators, and in particular the monarch butterfly. The symposium website is chock full of great information, so make time to visit www.ophi.info. Our collaborative efforts will meet the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative goal of “All you can, where you can!”
Brad Ross is communications specialist at the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.