The Bugs (arthropods) Among Us

Arthropod (Bug) Show Coming next Saturday!

Bugs are small, but their importance on Earth is immense.  Most live their lives unaware of our existence; here’s your chance to become aware of theirs.

2016ARTHROFlyerI’m doing the ants, I know very little about ants, but . . . well . . . I’m doing the ants.  Come anyway.  We’ll capture some ants, study their form, and return them to their home. You’ll get some free ant trading cards, and my esteemed colleague, Sandy Geiger, will give you all those tidbits of ant lore you need.  Hope to see you there.

Garry

Requirements for the USDA Organic Seal of Approval

organics--us mapGR.–Take action for butterflies:  According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic farms in the U. S. sales reached $5.5 billion in 2014, up 72 percent since 2008.  Save the pollinators and the animals that depend on them; go organic!  It’s the simplest way to boycott Monsanto and all the users of glyphosate and other pesticides.  Here’s what “organic” means:

usda_organic1-200x200From OnlyOrganic.org.–“The USDA certified organic seal is the only guarantee that your food has been grown without toxic pesticides, most synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, artificial hormones or genetically engineered seeds. It also indicates that food that has been produced in compliance with federal standards.

“To meet these standards, farmers must:

  • rotate crops to maintain soil health
  • reduce soil erosion to improve water quality
  • use buffers to prevent contamination from non-organic fields
  • prohibit the use of toxic pesticides, most synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones, and genetically engineered seeds
  • provide animals with year-round access to fresh air, clean water, direct sunlight, and room to move

“Before a farmer can market their crops as organics, they must meet USDA organic standards.Becoming certified organic is a multi-step process. The US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) oversees organic agriculture and certification in our country, but accredited certifying agents are the ones who actually grant or deny the organic certification of goods. The certifying agents must first go through a rigorous review process to get accredited by NOP. Then, the accredited certifying agents put each company through an inspection and review process to become certified organic.”  Continue reading:  The Organic Seal of Approval | Only Organic

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Agreement turns I-35 into pollinator haven | Finance & Commerce

GR:  It is definitely time to get serious about pollinator protection.  Unfortunately, this agreement is not binding and it does not mention mowing or herbicides, the principal roadside vegetation management tools of departments of transportation.  If I-35 roadsides start to become wild and rough, it will be a sign that the effort to aid pollinators is sincere.  Fingers crossed!

DES MOINES, Iowa — Soon, passengers zipping along Interstate 35 will see a lusher refuge and more food for bees and butterflies in the hopes of helping the insects boost their declining populations, six states and the Federal Highway Administration announced Thursday.

That 1,500-mile stretch of road from northern Minnesota to southern Texas is a flyway for monarch butterflies that migrate between Mexico and Canada, and is surrounded by acres of public land that can serve as friendly territory for the bees and butterflies that pollinate the plants that produce much of the nation’s food, such as fruits and vegetables.

But the monarch butterfly has lost population in recent years, which researchers say is due in part to shrinking stands of milkweed, on which butterflies feed and lay eggs. And last year, beekeepers reported losing about 40 percent of honey bee colonies in part due to pesticide use, habitat loss and parasites.

The agreement signed Thursday by officials from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and the federal government is meant to improve the habitat and develop a branding campaign to informally name the interstate the Monarch Highway.  Source: Agreement turns I-35 into pollinator haven | Finance & Commerce

Butterfly species decline ‘dramatically’ in Germany | Global Ideas | DW.COM | 30.03.2016

GR:  Similar reports are coming in from around the world.  Toxic pesticides are an important contributor to the decline in many other areas.

“Climate change and nitrogen pollution may be behind the “dramatic drop” in the number of butterfly species in Germany over the past 200 years, according to new research.

“Of the 117 butterfly species recorded in 1840 in the survey site, a protected habitat in the south-German state of Bavaria, just 71 are still found today, said the authors of the study recently published in journal “Conservation Biology.”

“Species requiring a specific type of habitat or food source, such as the “elegant white and ochre-spotted” hermit butterfly, are threatened with extinction in Germany. The hermit, for instance, lives in dry grasslands and will be hit even harder by changes in land use and global warming in the future, say the authors.”  From: www.dw.com