Archive for the 'Pollinators' Category

Wildflowers for Truth and Beauty

Friday, March 24th, 2017
Spring bluebonnets as far as the eye can see.

Spring bluebonnets as far as the eye can see.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas roadsides will soon  be awash in colorful wildflowers. Dr. Damon Waitt, director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, formerly of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, says these and other native plants have a place in the natural and built landscapes.

Natives provide really important ecosystem services for local wildlife, pollinators.

They filter storm water and rainwater, so they provide all these services to the ecosystem, and they can provide similar services in the built landscape, and reduce things like water use, pesticide use and fertilizer use.

In addition, they have the aesthetic qualities that we want people to learn to appreciate, so they’re not looking for that next exotic ornamental—that they ‘re more interested in finding that next native plant that looks great and functions perfectly in their environment.

There are a lot of people who might look at wildflowers and native plants and say, gosh, how do those fit into my idea of a formal landscape.

That’s something we’re really trying to fight—that concept that if you’re a native plant enthusiast, then your yard must look wild and unkempt. At the wildflower center, we model different design styles using native plants, and you can use native plants in very high designs and very formal designs if that’s the look you’re going for.

Find plants that are right for you at wildflower.org.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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

NOTE: Due to the rain and warm weather, spring wildflowers started popping out about a month earlier than usual. So get out there soon to enjoy them before they’re gone.

Plight of the Bumblebee

Friday, March 10th, 2017
American bumble bee (left) and eastern carpenter bee (right). Courtesy of Jessica Womack.

American bumble bee (left) and eastern carpenter bee (right). Courtesy of Jessica Womack.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas has nine native bumblebee species. Loss of habitat to agriculture, use of pesticides, as well as European honeybees competing for food, threatens these important pollinators.

And so if we have a reduction in bumblebees, that spells trouble for our ecosystems.

Michael Warriner, an invertebrate biologist, says because Texas bumblebees have evolved with native flora as pollinators, fewer native bees would eventually translate to fewer native plants, which would impact other living things…

The birds and the mammals and other insects that depend on plants for fruit, or seeds, or just the functioning ecosystem.

While we give non-native European honeybees credit for pollinating our food crops, in some instances, bumblebees outperform them.

14—Bumblebees, although they aren’t talked about a lot as important pollinators, they’re much better and more efficient than honeybees. They’re the best pollinators for things like tomatoes, blueberries, cranberries, melons, and those sorts of crops.

You can find more bumblebee on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

11—And if you’re interested in being a bumblebee watcher, check out the website, and if you see any bumblebees in your garden, just send in photos. We’re really trying to learn how bumblebees are doing.

That’s our show for today…the Wildlife Restoration program supports our series…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

Threats to Texas Bumblebees

Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Texas Bumblebee, photo Jessica Womack

Texas Bumblebee, photo Jessica Womack

This is Passport to Texas

We all know about colony collapse disorder whereby colonies of European honeybees seem to vanish.

Less well known are the threats facing a lot of our native bumblebees.

Michael Warriner is an invertebrate biologist with a soft spot for native bumblebees. Like other native wildlife species in Texas, habitat loss is taking its toll on native bumblebees.

Bumblebees need open, flower-rich habitat—like grasslands. And, a lot of that habitat’s been converted to agriculture.

Warriner says pesticide use is another concern, but the threats to these big black and yellow insects doesn’t stop there.

And also, there’s been the importation of bumblebees from Europe into this country which has brought in parasites and diseases that may be impacting them. So, there’s a lot of concern how they’re faring in North America.

One of the threats to Texas bumblebees might actually be honeybees, which have colonies in the tens of thousands compared to the hundreds of insects in a bumblebee colony.

Honeybees have these tens of thousands of workers, and so they can go out and monopolize a flower resource—like nectar or pollen—and that reduces what’s available for our native bees. And there’s some research that suggests that the presence of honeybees in natural sites can reduce native bees.

We’ll have the potential impact from bumblebee decline tomorrow.

That’s our show for today…The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

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 iNaturalist.org. 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.