Bees and butterflies: insects and their conservation (part two)

On Wednesday, August 16th, Tara Cornelisse, an assistant
professor at Canisius College in Buffalo, was invited by Grand Island’s
Citizens Coalition for Wildlife and the Environment to speak about insects.
Here is some information about bees and butterflies.

Note: Take a look at part one here.

The bee story:

  • honeybees are not a native species. They are used commercially to produce honey for human consumption.
  • honeybees are susceptible to colony collapse disorder. Pesticide use is suspected as a culprit. The cause of colony collapse disorder remains a mystery, however. When a majority of the worker bees disappear and there are just a few nurse bees to take care of the queen and the immature bees, the colony is suffering colony collapse disorder.
  • Bumble bees are native to the northeastern United States. Bumble bees, like honeybees, are pollinators. They collect nectar to store in their nest and they gather pollen to feed their young.
  • Bumblebees are social insects that live in colonies with a queen, drones, and worker bees.
  • When bumble bees search for flowers, they are very hungry. Six thousand flowers are needed to maintain the energy to keep the eggs alive.
  • Bumble bees prefer early spring flowers. They like clover and dandelions. Think like a bumble bee!!! Reduce mowing and let the plants flower. Don’t use pesticides. They are toxic for bumble bees.
  • Bumble bees hibernate underground. The bees look for abandoned holes where the queen can lay her eggs. She will lay her eggs in April. The bees create a honey pot for the eggs. The queen shivers to keep the eggs warm. They must be maintained at 85 to 90 degrees to survive.
  • There are twenty-five species of bees in New York State.  They include cavity nesting bees, such as the mason bee and the leaf cutter bee, and ground nesting bees, such as the sweat bee.
The butterfly story:

  • The western New York area houses fifteen to seventeen percent of monarch butterflies that travel to Mexico. Grand Island is part of a pollinator corridor.
  • eggs are laid on milkweed, which the caterpillars feed on. 
  • Most milkweed is found in urban and suburban areas. In rural areas, monarch butterflies feed on flowering plants. They especially like goldenrod and astors.
  • What can you do to conserve monarchs?
    • change your yard. 
    • plant milk weed, coneflowers, and bee balm. Bee balm will attract both monarch butterflies and hummingbirds, which are also pollinators.
Supporting pollinators 
  • don’t remove all of the leaves in the autumn. The leaves provide insulation to the floor. Various moths and bees hibernate there.
  • leave some dead trees standing. Birds and bats will hibernate under the bark.
  • Put up signs, identifying your property as a pollinator habitat.
  • get involved in citizen science. The Xerces Society (link to Xerces Society) has a dragonfly sighting program. Dragonflies like water, so, if you live near a pond, a creek, a river, etc., you are likely to see dragonflies. Also check out Monarch Watch for more ideas (link to Monarch Watch)
For more information about the diverse world of insects, check out Cornell University’s Entomology Department, which has an extension and outreach program. (link to insect facts and other cool stuff)

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