Earth Day Every Day: Info from The Smithsonian: 3rd Installment

Note: I came across my husband’s latest issue of The Smithsonian magazine and found a very interesting article on their coverage of 50 years of Earth Day. It is an interview with ecologist/entomologist (a person who studies or is an expert in the branch of zoology concerned with insects) Douglass Tallamy in my home state of Pennsylvania, focusing on his “ten gently sloping acres ” in the southeastern section of this state.

The article by Jerry Adler is entitled “Wild Man,” and explores Tallamy’s stance of being “fed up with invasive species and sterile landscapes,” and urges us to “go natural —– and remake every backyard, office park and traffic island.” So even if you don’t live on a farm, you can use these ideas for your garden or your place of work or through your community gardening projects.

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Tallamy’s recommendations are part of my third installment of ideas for Earth Day Every Day, starting with my number 21, (The article list is 1 -8) where I left off from the second installment, and I also think you will want to read the entire article, so here is the main link:

If you put in the Search Box: author: Jerry Adler, you will see this link below, but just click on the underlined title below to access entire long form of the article…worthwhile reading.

search result thumbnail 2

Meet the Ecologist Who Wants You to Unleash the Wild on Your Backyard

21. Shrink Your Lawn: Tallamy suggests you replace some of your grass with plants that sustain more animal life, thereby reducing the use of water, pesticides and fertilizers. (By animal life, I think he means insects and smaller creatures. es)

22. Remove Invasive Plants: Plants native to your area sustain animal diversity more than non-indigenous flora. (Tallamy notes that Japanese honeysuckle, Oriental bittersweet, multiflora and kudzu are notable offenders.)

23. Create No-Mow Zones: Use mulch  in areas around trees and shrubbery to accommodate “local” insects, birds, butterflies, etc.

24. Place Motion Sensors on Outdoor Lights: Since white lights can disturb animal behavior, and switching to LED devices with yellow lights instead of white will attract fewer flying insects.

25. Plant Keystone Species: Choose to plant native tree species which may contribute more to the local food web (for animals es).

26. Welcome Pollinators (ex. butterflies and bees, birds es): Tallamy suggests native willows, asters, sunflowers, evening primrose and violets among those “that support beleaguered bees.” (This article lists plants that attract butterflies in Eastern US: es)

27. Fight Mosquitoes with Bacteria: Purchase inexpensive packets of the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis to place in drains or other mosquito-hatching spots. This bacteria will only inhibit mosquitos and not other insects.

28. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Use vinegar or dig up weeds instead of spraying with chemicals. Tallamy suggests that you can mow lawn 3 inches high to discourage crabgrass.

These last two suggestions are not from the Smithsonian Magazine, but from my other research:

29. Other Natural suggestions for removing pesky insects from (or Google Natural Insecticides for creating the actual sprays and remedies)

a. soapy water, b. neem oil spray, c. pyrethum spray (from chrysanthemums), d. plant mosquito-repellent plants, e. beer, f. garlic (stuck in the soil of your plant), g. pepper spray, h. herbal water spray, i. alcohol spray, j. nicotine (tea), k. strong spray of water on plants. (I believe these can be used for indoor and outdoor plants. es)

30. For patio or outdoor gardens, consider flowers that attract butterflies, moths and bees. From, here is such a list:

Supporting Bees and Butterflies

The list below shows flower varieties liked by bees and butterflies. On the website, you can click on each flower for more information and ordering.)

Black Sweet William
Butterfly Weed
Butterfly Wildflower Mix
Canary Creeper Vine
Dame’s Violet
English Lavender
Great Blue Lobelia
Hollyhock/Indian Spring
Jasmine Tobacco
Lacy Phacelia
Lemon Bergamot
Mexican Sunflower
Mixed Bulk Seed
Mountain Mint
Pincushion Flower
Scarlet Flax
Scarlet Runner Bean
Swamp Milkweed
Sweet Peas
Woodland Tobacco



Earth Day Every Day

The United States Post Service (USPS) recently issued a new set of stamps entitled Protect Pollinators. I know bees and butterflies are pollinators, but nothing else, so I looked up the term and here is what Wikipedia posts:
“Insect pollinators include bees, (honey bees, solitary species, bumblebees); pollen wasps (Masarinae); ants; flies including bee flies, hoverflies and mosquitoes; lepidopterans, both butterflies and moths; and flower beetles.”
 So the next time you need stamps, consider purchasing these. On the side of the stamp is the “Protect Pollinators” title as a reminder.
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