Category Archives: Plants, Pests, Rescue

Military mandate to reduce pesticide use sparked the creation of a device that kills weeds with heat & light #p2

NatureZap wand at work
Source: Good Neighbor
Imagine a weedkiller as effective as Monsanto’s Roundup (aka glyphosate) which doesn’t introduce any chemicals into the environment and can be completely localized: enter NatureZap version 2, which kills weeds by zapping them with a heat-light combo.

TakePart says the tool was created by the, “412th Civil Engineering Group at Edwards Air Force Base—who developed the device with Global Neighbor,” to satisfy a mandate for the military “to reduce its use of toxic chemicals under the Sikes Act.”

Isn’t that great?

Interactive Monarch Butterfly friendship map – take a look and feel free to add your story

Monarch map
Source: Environmental Defense Fund Monarch map
The Environmental Defense Fund has created a map of people and places all around the United States with a story of friendship to tell about Monarch Butterflies. Take a look at what others are doing to honor, help and protect Monarchs, and feel free to submit a story of your own.

Your own backyard is a great place to help butterflies and bees

Butterflies in field
Sourece: Judy Kesser via Monarch Joint Venture
Naturalist Don Torino suggests using your own backyard to help the butterflies and bees survive and thrive:

…There is still much more for us to do, especially in our own backyards.

This spring dig under some of that useless lawn, remove some non-natives and put aside some room in your flower beds for some milkweed and native wildflower nectar sources. Many local garden centers now carry multiple species of milkweed which will work in the backyard. Some better garden centers are now even setting aside spaces for native wildflowers like Milkweeds Goldenrod, Joe-pye weed and NY Ironweed to name a few.

Unlike many environmental issues which at times can seem overwhelming, this is an issue we can do something about. We don’t need to write to our Congressman or the Governor and hope that something gets done. Just plant some milkweed and other native wildflowers that provide nectar and you’ve just made our environment a better place.

Together we can turn our local communities into environments that are welcoming to the Monarch butterfly and that will give a fighting chance to a creature that can sure use our help.

If you have any questions on milkweed or other native plants feel free to contact me at

Pres. Obama is making a flower highway for butterflies (really)

tagged monarch
Source: Anna Barnett on flickr
I know this headline sounds more like the title of a fantasy novel than a project the federal United States government is implementing. But it’s real – a real 1500 mile project that will connect Minnesota with Texas with habitat areas for Monarch butterflies all the way down the middle of our country. That’s the path these butterflies take on their way to winter in fir forests outside of Mexico City, Mexico. It will run north-south along Route I-35, pretty much the entire vertical length of the United States.

butterfly highway

The Christian Science Monitor explains the plan:

The Xerces Society has already been working with the Federal Highway Administration to develop best practices for roadside management, including incorporation of flowering plants and milkweed and adapting mowing schedules to migration patterns… but the president’s plan is much broader than that.

“The idea is to use it as this iconic pathway to work with schools, farmers, ranchers, and park districts to improve habitats for 50 to 100 miles on either side of the I-35 corridor,” Dr. Black says.

North Carolina has a Butterfly Highway of its own. And, there are other Monarch protection projects coming to life in different parts of the United States – check out Monarch Joint Venture for details.

In May 2015 the Washington Post reported on Obama’s National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

Speak up for NJ law to use only environment-saving native plants for state roadway areas

Native Plant legislative alertA proposed law would help clean New Jersey waterways by requiring all new Jersey roadway authorities to use ONLY native plants for landscaping, land management, reforestation and habitat restoration.

Plant and grass fertilizers are a huge source of pollution for natural waterways, but native plants need no fertilizers. Native plants are also hearty and drought resistant, so they tend to thrive even when water becomes scarce – so they can keep on doing their job well: growing deep roots that retain topsoil and keep plants healthy. Those roots help stormwater seep into the ground where it gets channelled to the underground aquifers that

Please write or call your State Senator and Assemblyperson. Consult this handy guide to find your New Jersey State legislators.

Easy tick removal with just a water-moistened cotton swab

Tick and cotton swab
Source: Popular worldwide on
This video shows a tick being removed by a cotton swab slightly moistened in water, that you use to rotate the tick around until it falls off. That way, the mouth detaches from your skin. Looks easy but I wonder why they don’t moisten the swab with alcohol – wouldn’t that be better? If I learn of an even better way, I’ll share it.

Help for pollinators – from the simple to the sublime

pollinator friendly actionsNational Pollinator Week (June 15-21) just ended but nobody’s going to mind if you keep supporting beautiful bees and butterflies all year round. Your kids will actually thank you one day.

For inspiration, check out the probono project With Honey In My Heart is leading to transform a paved San Francisco street into a pollinator sanctuary but remember – the power to save our pollinators lies within easy reach of most of us.

Pollinator Blvd

Let’s change our ways and prevent the 6th global species extinction

globe in leaf in handsThe Guardian’s Jan Zalasiewizc covers the release of the paper last Friday by Gerardo Caballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and his team. They warn of an upcoming 6th global species extinction that differs from past extinctions (of dinosaurs, for example) only because it is voluntary rather than rooted in natural occurrences. Voluntary, as in man is choosing to create it.

The good news is that Caballos apparently thinks that man can still choose to stop this from happening. Pope Francis shares this view in the release of his encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home”.

We should remember that when we talk about the impending destruction of nature, we’re also talking about the destruction of people – because how can we survive without it? In short, we should pay close attention to sound advice being shared on how we can prevent this, and exercise extreme caution.

Urge officials to use BP Gulf restoration funds to protect bluefins & turtles

Restoring a degraded gulf of MexicoThe government trustees charged with restoring the Gulf have released 10 new projects, including two that will protect bluefin tuna and sea turtles. This suite of new projects is the fourth phase of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment early restoration process, funded by a $1 billion “down payment” from BP to restore the damage caused by the oil disaster.

We need your help. The trustees are calling for comments on the 10 proposed projects by July 6 – so, add your comment today!

Here’s what I wrote (first paragraph are my words):

Diversity is the invisible undercurrent that powers our world. And the sea covers most of our planet. We need to protect and nurture natural life and marine victims of the Gulf Oil tragedy. Please, act on behalf of a people and a planet who need your help.

Canned message follows (written by Ocean Conservancy):

I am writing in support of the pelagic longline bycatch reduction and sea turtle early restoration projects, proposed in phase IV of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment early restoration process.

For too long, we have seen the list of impacts to deep water species grow, while the projects to restore those species never materialized. From dolphins dying in record numbers, to corals covered in oil and millions of gallons of oil sitting on the seafloor, a troubling story is unfolding offshore. It is past time to begin restoring our impacted deep water resources and habitats. Only by addressing restoration in an integrated and comprehensive way — from the coast to the deep water can our impacted habitats, wildlife and coastal communities fully recover.

With these two projects, I am encouraged to see the trustees finally begin to restore the Gulf not just on the coast but beyond the shore, where the BP oil disaster began. These projects represent the comprehensive approach that we’ve been hoping to see in the five years since the disaster began. If we want to truly restore the Gulf, we must focus on both the coast and the deep water — our communities, culture and livelihoods depend on it.