Archive for the 'Monarchs' Category

Texas Pollinator Bioblitz

Thursday, October 6th, 2016
Save the Pollinators

Participate in the Texas Pollinator Bioblitz this month and #savethepollinators.

This is Passport to Texas

Calling all citizen scientists. We want you to participate in the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz, October 7th through 16th.

[We have] two goals in mind: to increase awareness about pollinators, and about the habitat that they require.

Johnnie Smith is Texas Parks and Wildlife Conservation Education Manager. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, beetles, moths and other critters that move pollen while foraging.

If you participate in the pollinator bioblitz, you’re going to have an opportunity to observe pollinators at a site that you visit, like your local zoo or aquarium or nature center. And observe the pollinators that are there. Grab a picture of the pollinators you find, and you can post them onto Instagram. We’re asking all of the participants to use the hashtag #savethepollinators.

State parks offer pollinator observation opportunities, too. And, you can also post findings, on Texas Parks and Wildlife’s website, has pages dedicated to the Pollinator Bioblitz.

Where people can learn what pollinators might be in their area. Links to what might be blooming in your area right now—that’s hosted out of the Wildflower center—and then also, to be aware of habitat you have that supports pollinators. And if you don’t have habitat in or near your home, school library… We’re encouraging people to try and get organized in planting pollinator habitat.

The Texas Pollinator BioBlitz is October 7 through 16. Participating is as easy as stepping outside.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Monarch Malaise

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016
Monarch on milkweed.

Monarch on milkweed.

This is Passport to Texas

Habitat loss along its migration route may be one reason the Monarch butterfly is in decline. While feeding on nectar, Monarchs pollinate wildflowers along their route, which benefits our ecosystem.

There are two primary ways that habitat supports pollinators.

Johnnie Smith is Texas Parks and Wildlife Conservation Education Manager.

And one is, the adult pollinators oftentimes feed on nectar of flowers. So, flowering plants that are a food source for the pollinator is very important. But also, is the food source that the pollinator’s larvae rely on as they’re growing up and becoming an adult. And so, that is just as important as the flowering plants that support the adults.

For Monarchs, native milkweed is an important plant. By cultivating them in our yards, along with other nectar and larval plants, we can all play a part in their survival.

There is no effort that is too small to be counted worthy. And there’s no spot of land that is too small to contain pollinator habitat. So, we really want to empower everybody—that they can make a difference. Right where you stand. Right where you live—you can create pollinator habitat, and help turn around this negative trend with the monarchs.

Tomorrow: the Pollinator Bioblitz, an event to build awareness to help all pollinators.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Flowers, Boxes, and Bees. Oh My!

Monday, August 29th, 2016
Looking for pollinators on backyard flowering plants.

Looking for pollinators on backyard flowering plants.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife developed a new protocol that addresses land management for pollinators. While the protocols focus on acreage, urban dwellers can still manage for these species in their backyards.

One of the biggest things that urban residents can do is simply plant more good quality flowering plants.

Michael Warriner is non-game and rare species program leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife. He says native plants are best, but noninvasive nonnatives are also useful. He adds that if you’re serious about helping pollinators—scale back your lawn.

And having more flowering plants. Also, another thing is offering nest sites. And especially with our native solitary bees that nest in dead wood, urban folks can put up native bee nesting blocks.

If you’re worried about putting up nesting boxes because of the close proximity it puts you to bees—don’t.

Because solitary bees don’t defend their nest sites, you don’t have to worry about these bees flying out and defending their nests and getting stung. Let’s say like honeybee colonies do. Or, paper wasps. You know, insects that are social.

By planting more flowering species in your landscape, and by hanging bee nesting boxes in your public outdoor spaces, you are not only providing food, shelter and breeding sites for important pollinators, you’re also creating a more beautiful setting for yourself. Win-win.

That’s our Show…Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

NOTE: October 7 – 16, 2016 participate in the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz. Learn more when you click here.

TPW TV – Betting on Butterflies

Friday, August 26th, 2016
One of the many butterfly species you'll find in the Texas Rio Grande Valley

One of the many butterfly species you’ll find in the Texas Rio Grande Valley

This is Passport to Texas

A diverse array of wildlife viewing opportunities can be had in Texas. Especially in the Rio Grande Valley, where visitors—like David Dauphin—travel to see butterflies.

You can see more species of butterflies than anywhere else in the United States. It’s just another aspect of the wildlife watching that’s so fantastic in the valley.

During the week of August 28, the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV Series on PBS airs a segment called Betting on Butterflies, which looks at this relatively recent wildlife viewing obsession.

Butterfly field guides didn’t really start coming out until the mid-90s, I guess. And like birding, you eventually start checking them off a list, and that sort of thing. Butterfliers are really birders that have gone over to the dark side. It’s just a progression.

Many people visit the valley to add new butterfly species to their list, yet, locals, like Kay Cunningham, find joy in an old favorite—the monarch—during its fall migration.

It’s always a big thrill when they start coming in. This part of Texas is kind of plain. But, there is a beauty in this country that you have to be patient and wait for. And the monarch are one of those.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of butterflies the week of August 28 with the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV Series on PBS, Check your local listings.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Milkweed for Monarchs

Thursday, August 25th, 2016
Milkweed for monarchs

Milkweed for monarchs

This is Passport to Texas

More than seventy species of milkweed have been recorded nationwide; over half of those are native to Texas. Including two that are endemic.

These are species that are found nowhere else but within the Texas border. One of them is called Texas Milkweed, which is found in canyons in Central Texas. And then we have a species called Coastal Milkweed that occurs roughly from the Houston area to just north of Brownsville.

Jason Singhurst, a botanist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says milkweeds provide sustenance to the iconic monarch butterfly during its migration.

So, here in Texas, we know certain species like green milkweed, antelope horns, broadleaf milkweed, and zizotes are some of our most abundant species that we’re seeing monarch larvae and adults visit.

Because milkweed species vary, do monarchs use each species in the same or different ways?

That’s a really good question. That’s something we’re trying to figure out in Texas. And that’s why we started this mapping project called Texas Milkweeds and Monarchs project—using iNaturalist. It’s an app that you can download on your smartphone. We’re using that project to help us identify different species of milkweeds across the state, and then also which species that larvae, or adult monarch butterflies are visiting.

Find a link to the Milkweeds and Monarchs project on iNaturalist at

Find an article about milkweeds by Jason Singhurst in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.