This week’s guest blog is by Katherine Mitchell
Recently many of us have become aware that honey bees, as well as Monarch butterflies, are faced with extinction. This would be a tragedy of unthinkable proportions as the loss of honey bees would reduce our food supply by at least 25%. It is believed that the two biggest problems for these insects are poisoning from pesticides and loss of habitat. We can make a big difference with a few simple measures.
We can reduce the amount of lawns which are often highly fertilized and treated with pesticides. One possibility is the planting of flowering trees and bushes, including the butterfly bush.
One of the easiest and most effective, as well as beautiful solutions to the problem, is the creation of a wildflower meadow. This can replace as much or as little of your lawn as you wish. The soil must be prepared. Of course the landscape companies can do this, or do-it-yourselfers can rent a rototiller to turn over the soil. Packages of mixed seeds are available, and can be broadcast easily, and you can supplement these packages with your personal favorites. Milkweed is particularly important to the Monarch butterfly. Its seeds are the only food for the Monarch caterpillar. They cannot survive without it!
This meadow will attract a wonderful assortment of butterflies and bees. It could make an excellent learning project for young children. It is important to allow the meadow to go to seed, not cutting it down when the blooms have finished. In addition to the insects I’ve mentioned, birds will also enjoy the seeds come fall.
I hope you’ll consider installing a wild flower meadow. I think this lovely addition to the landscape can make a real difference to these important species and to our continuing enjoyment of life on this planet.
Also see Rain Gardens.