Friday, March 12, 2010

Nature's Early Shift

Several signs of spring have announced the floodgates of rain and warmer weather are not far behind. The bird-watchers can attest, the overhead movement of migration has started. Pintails, wigeon, redheads and the like are seeking out refuge in the icy waters, open within the ice flows, on their path northward.

Salamanders and frogs have started their migrations to vernal pools, for fabulous nights of free love and egg laying. It is a short lived affair, oft lit by the lanterns of awe-struck herpetologist. I confess, I have been known to don the waders and partake in a bit of voyeurism, myself.

But nothing says "spring" like the pollinators.

The earliest of pollinators for the earliest of flowers- Harbinger-of-Spring (or Salt and Pepper), Erigenia bulbosa. This hairy little bee has his winter coat on, to protect it from the cool spring temps. These early bees are a short-lived seasonal occurrence.

The Witch Hazel, (Ozark witch-hazel) Hamamelis vernalis is now being pollinated by a very early spring bee. Unfortunately, I can't ID either of these interesting native insects. A fact I can tell you: since the threat of colony collapse disorder and the demise of many European honeybees (non-native imports), scientists are taking a hard look at these important native insects. Without pollinators, mankind would be seriously challenged to find food sources.
With a great interest in these little work-horses of the insect world, I am really looking forward to Judy Semroc's pollinator program at the ...
Be sure to check out the schedule on line and join us on August 6-8th for some amazing speakers and a whole lot of fun. I'll be covering the butterfly plants, and get to lead a trip with Jim Davidson, one of Ohio's finest lepidopterist. Sure hope to see you there!

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