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Posts tagged: pollinators

Shade-Grown Coffee Yields a Better Product and Top-Notch Wildlife Habitat

Posted by Julie Wright, Acting Caribbean Area Public Affairs Specialist on June 30, 2016 at 02:57 PM
Shade-grown coffee plantations provide habitat for the Puerto Rican parrot. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo.

Shade-grown coffee plantations provide habitat for the Puerto Rican parrot. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo.

By growing coffee in the shade under a forest canopy instead of directly in the sun, Puerto Rico farmers help a variety of wildlife and improve the quality of their crop.

The coffee shrub, which originated in Ethiopia, grows naturally in the shade. But over the years, many Puerto Rican growers cleared shade trees to boost yields. Now, in an effort to grow higher-quality coffee and conserve natural resources and help wildlife, the island’s growers are bringing back shade trees.

Shade-grown coffee is especially important to wildlife in places where deforestation is common. Shade-grown coffee plantations provide refuge, shelter and nesting sites for the Puerto Rican parrot, sharp-shinned hawk, Puerto Rico nightjar, elfin woods warbler, and many other birds and wildlife species. Researchers have suggested that both birds and orchids have survived periods of deforestation in Puerto Rico because of the presence of shade coffee plantations.  Read more >>

Tags: Caribbean Area, pollinators

categories Landscape Initiatives, Discover Conservation, Environment, Plants & Animals


Not All Monarchs Migrate! The Puerto Rican Subspecies Stays Put

Posted by Julie Wright, Caribbean Area Acting Public Affairs Specialist on June 23, 2016 at 01:08 PM
A Puerto Rican monarch butterfly in a garden at the University of Puerto Rico's Utuado butterfly house.

A Puerto Rican monarch butterfly in a garden at the University of Puerto Rico's Utuado butterfly house.

The monarch butterfly is the iconic butterfly native of the Americas. The black-and-orange butterfly can migrate thousands of miles each year from North America and South America to Mexico. But the subspecies in Puerto Rico, Danaus plexippus portorricensis, is considered non-migrant. It likes to stay put! 


The Puerto Rican monarch butterfly was identified in 1941 as a separate subspecies. It has also been found in the Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, St. Lucia and Jamaica.  


The adult Puerto Rican monarch grows up to 40 millimeters in size, and there are few differences to distinguish between the sexes. Like the monarch, the Puerto Rican monarch is particular about its host plants. Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed to lay their eggs, and the plant provides the only food source for monarch caterpillars.  Read more >>

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Tags: Caribbean Area, pollinators, monarch butterfly

categories Plants & Animals, Discover Conservation


Sunrise to Sundown, Beekeeping Forester Never Stops

Posted by Renee Bodine, Florida Public Affairs Specialist on June 22, 2016 at 10:20 AM
A workshop he took two years ago prompted Willie Earl Paramore to become a beekeeper.

A workshop he took two years ago prompted Willie Earl Paramore to become a beekeeper.

In September, Willie Earl Paramore will turn 90, but he isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet. He doesn’t stop moving, learning or doing. He manages a forest, hiking and four-wheeling though 540 acres, where he sets the prescribed burns himself. He also keeps bees, building his own bee boxes and moving them around to get the best nectar. And he is still on-call for the Paramore Drug Store that now belongs to his son. Willie Earl is frequently the featured speaker on bees and trees at the town civic group meetings and Rotary Club. 


“I retired 21 years ago and have been playing ever since,” he said. Everyone in town knows him and they will tell you right away that no one in town can keep up with Willie Earl, no matter what age. 

A third-generation farmer, Willie Earl became interested in forestry when he planted two acres of longleaf pine trees for his Future Farmers of America project in 1942. But then he was drafted. When he returned from the army he married his high school sweetheart, Corrie, settling in the small rural town of Marianna, Florida. They raised a family and he was the town pharmacist, but it wasn’t long before Willie Earl started acquiring land.  Read more >>

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Tags: Florida, pollinators, longleaf pines, multi-generational farmer

categories Farmer & Rancher Stories


Rhode Island Farm a ‘Riot of Pollinator Activity’

Posted by Gary Casabona, Rhode Island State Biologist on June 02, 2016 at 02:43 PM
An American copper butterfly gathers nectar from anise hyssop.

An American copper butterfly gathers nectar from anise hyssop.

Amid a sea of lance-leaf coreopsis, partridge pea and anise hyssop growing on Godena Farm, you hear a faint buzz. It’s the sound of bees hard at work—and proof of a healthy landscape.

The Conanicut Island Land Trust purchased the Jamestown, Rhode Island farm to conserve open space and create a permanent sanctuary for pollinators. Managers of the 25-acre farm have planted wildflowers and warm-season grasses, improving habitat for bees and other pollinators, as well as wildlife. And the result? It’s what Quentin Anthony, the land trust’s president, calls “a riot of pollinator activity.”   

Even though crops are no longer grown on the farm, its bee hives, maintained by the trust and the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association, yield substantial amounts of honey thanks to the farm’s abundance of bees and wildflowers.  Read more >>

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Tags: pollinators, Rhode Island

categories Plants & Animals, Farmer & Rancher Stories


Oregon Ranchers Nurture Milkweed, Lure Monarchs

Posted by Tracy Robillard, Oregon Public Affairs Specialist on June 01, 2016 at 08:31 AM
Laurie Halsey examines a cluster of milkweed plants on her ranch.

Laurie Halsey examines a cluster of milkweed plants on her ranch.

If you plant them, they will come.

That’s Warren and Laurie Halsey’s approach to improving monarch butterfly habitat on their 270-acre ranch in Benton County, Oregon.

“If there’s no milkweed, there’s no place for the monarchs to lay their eggs. They depend on it,” Warren said. “We started planting milkweed about 12 years ago when we got some seeds from the Audubon Society. We took it on as an experiment and planted them in different spots on the property. It was a struggle getting the plants going, but we figured out what worked and what didn’t. And then, when the monarchs appear, it’s a blessing. You just get really excited.”

After a decade of trial and error, and with help from multiple volunteers and partners, the Halseys now have 19 active milkweed clusters on their ranch. This year, they reported seeing more monarchs than ever before. Read more >>

Tags: Oregon, monarch butterfly, wetlands, pollinators

categories Plants & Animals, Conservation Programs, Environment, Farmer & Rancher Stories, Landscape Initiatives


Wildflowers Provide Critical Habitat for Wildlife and Pollinators

Posted by Justin Fritscher on May 03, 2016 at 02:21 PM
A monarch butterfly gathers nectar from a milkweed flower. NRCS helps agricultural producers plant Milkweed on farms, ranches and working forests to help the monarch and other species. USFWS photo.

A monarch butterfly gathers nectar from a milkweed flower. NRCS helps agricultural producers plant Milkweed on farms, ranches and working forests to help the monarch and other species. USFWS photo.

It all begins with a seed. Filled with food and information, it one day grows into something beautiful―a wildflower. And before the flower’s time is done, it has shared pollen and nectar for an abundance of bees, butterflies, beetles and other pollinators. When the flower is gone, it leaves behind fruit or seeds to feed wildlife, or to begin the cycle anew.

From prairies to roadsides and bogs to hillsides, wildflowers provide vital food and habitat for wildlife and pollinators. They’re an essential part of ecosystems and benefit conservation efforts on America’s private lands.

This week marks National Wildflower Week, a great time for everyone to celebrate the importance of native wildflowers. As native plants, they’re more resistant to pests, more resilient to climate extremes and require less maintenance. Plus, they’re beautiful! Read more >>

Tags: wildflowers, pollinators, conservation, milkweed, monarch butterfly

categories Plants & Animals