Tuesday, March 8, 2016

False Milkweed bugs by Sarah Zuehlke

Hello everyone! It is nearly Spring and the weather is getting nicer.
It's getting warmer in Maryland where I live. And that means the insects are starting to come out.  Yesterday I found a bunch of False Milkweed bugs, Lygaeus turcicus, in one of my gardens. They were crawling around everywhere and many of them were mating. These milkweed bugs, despite their name having milkweed in it, don't eat milkweed. They actually eat sunflowers, Heliopsis helianthoides, also known as false sunflowers and smooth or rough oxeyes. Which is why they were in my garden because there were false sunflowers there last year. They overwintered in the leaves there beneath the flowers. It's amazing they survived the large snow storm we had here of nearly 2 feet of snow. How they eat the dried sunflower seeds is rather interesting. They sometimes pull out the seed and hold it with their two front arms while sucking with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. I have seen them do it several times. And here is a picture of one of them doing it. The little guys are out again today in this nice weather.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Bee's Needs 
by: Sydney Lawton

Hi there, I'm Sydney and I'm in my last semester of my undergrad career about to receive my B.S. in Environmental Studies come summer-loving season. I'm hoping to dive into some environmental education work after pursuing my master's in teaching so that I can be a part of a movement to protect the environment during the crisis of Climate Change that we are ever so presently facing. I am passionate about teaching from the bottom up through experiential learning so that children can nurture their own deep relationship with the immaculate natural world we live in. I'm just about to begin some volunteer work at my second Waldorf School in the Pacific Northwest and couldn't be more excited to see if this is the school I'd like to teach for as they practice a lot of Steiner's philosophy, which could be an entirely different blog post. 
So, It's just about Spring here in Portland, Oregon and I've been enamored with the early bloom of flowers covering the city. I've also been thinking about my favorite little insects, the bees, as I dip into my High Oregon Desert local honey to cure a cold I'm feeling creeping up in these last winter hours. These guys are the essence of Spring. They come out of their "winter clusters" ready to buzz around, flower to flower, pollinating the plants that we find so colorful and alive (maybe too colorful and alive for those of you with allergies). A lot of people may overlook just how important these worker bees are for the equilibrium of the planet. I won't get too into it because I'd like to keep this fun and informational. But: I would like to share this freelance illustrator, Hanna Rosengren of Maine, with this blog because I think what she has created is not only cute and sweet, but helps the homeowners and gardeners know what plants they can use in their kitchen gardens to help these little guys thrive. I don't know her personally so I have attached her website link to the bottom of the page if you would like to check it out! SO, happy almost spring! Plant these, to help save bees! 
May your coming months be fruitful!