Showing posts with label neocotinoids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label neocotinoids. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pollinators on the brain

Growing up I viewed bees as the enemy because my mother is very allergic to them. I hated the enormous Callistemon in our backyard because it was buzzing with insects that wanted to kill my mom (in my mind, at least). I'm terrified of spiders and I still scream if an ant or beetle crawls across my foot in the garden. As a result, I don't know how to explain how obsessed I've become with bugs.

I was going through Kate Bryant's archive on Portland Monthly and ran across an article on attracting pollinators to your yard which somehow led to this plant list that will help attract beneficial insects to your garden, which led to me completely falling down the pollinator rabbit hole, all of which culminated in reading this article on neocotinoids and their devastating effect on pollinators.

It left me sort of depressed and then 50,000 bumblebees were killed by a landscaping company who sprayed some linden trees in a Target parking lot with pesticide and I was really depressed. So what do we do when we get sad? We buy plants! What do we do if all the nurseries are closed and we're feeling impatient? We buy them online!

I placed an order to Annie's Annuals for a buckwheat I'd had on my wishlist for a long time: Eriogonum grande var. rubescens.

Image source: Annie's Annuals

Buckwheat is a favorite plant for hover flies, whose larvae eat aphids, a LOT of them. The larvae can eat an aphid a minute but they don't eat your plants. They look more like bees than flies. Aphids were the reason that landscaping crew sprayed the linden trees, killing all of those bumblebees.

Image source

We have a pretty bad problem with aphids on the roses in the lab, so I placed a buckwheat there. Of course, I ripped out most of my roses but my next-door neighbor still has about 15 planted here. Now I just have to hope that her mow-and-blow guys don't spray this area.

Buckwheats like it hot and dry, which is perfect for this area. This buckwheat is evergreen and tidy, growing to 1' x 3'. The undersides of its spoon-shaped leaves are silver and fuzzy. I want to find a spot in the backyard for another, since the cabbage aphids have recently discovered my edibles.

I've never had a desire to grow sunflowers but I gave in and ordered 'Lemon Queen' which is the official sunflower of The Great Sunflower Project, which has been tracking honeybee colonies for years.

Image source: Annie's Annuals
I also picked up some Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick', which is supposedly loved by bees. And it's pretty.

Image source: Annie's Annuals

Then this weekend a friend and I went to Portland Nursery and I picked up something for the butterflies: Achillea millefolium 'Terracotta.' After being like, "Where are the freaking butterflies?!" I've witnessed two swallowtails sailing through my yard. I haven't yet witnessed them landing or feeding on anything, but hopefully they'll check out my garden and tell their butterfly friends, "That place is cool. We should hang out there."

Are you unhealthily fixating on anything lately? Any plants I'm missing that will single-handedly repair the damage all these landscapers have done? Sometimes it feels like that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to come to terms with pollinators I've always hated, like wasps. We frequently have them drinking from the bird bath (cute!) and I know they're important predators of bugs that cause a lot of destruction in the garden, but they still make me nervous.