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The Rare Karner Blue Butterfly
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The Rare Karner Blue Butterfly

Celebrating Flowers & Pollinators

Flowers are the reason our pollinator friends have a purpose. Their symbiotic relationship creates beauty and biological diversity. The Karner Blue Butterfly is one species that once graced Southwestern Ontario but has since disappeared. The cause being the destruction of habitat and the loss of its only food supply: The Wild Lupine. We consistently praise the beauty of flowers, but it’s easy to forget why they are so important. With Wild Lupine preferring a sandy soil, and oak savannah, this flower, and these butterflies are narrowed to a specific ecosystem. The Great Lakes once flourished with both, but since the 1980’s, there hasn’t been a single sighting of the Karner Blue Butterfly in the wild.

The Karmer Blue

Common Name: Karner Blue Latin Name: Lycaeides melissa samuelis Status: Extirpated Range: Southwestern Ontario and the Great Lakes area Life Span: 5 days Size: tiny, 25 millimetre wing-span Photo is courtesy of Annie Spratt-Unsplash.com
Now extirpated from Canada, the Karner Blue is found only in captivity. There have been reintegration programs in New Hampshire, but without a consistent food supply, the success of these programs hang in the balance. These specialist butterflies live as adults for roughly five days. During these few days the Karner Blue will feed, mate and lay their eggs on the wild lupine leaves. They live the fast life but these butterflies are tiny, with 2.5cm wing spans. The males have deep blue wings with black edges and white outlines, where the females are so dark they’re nearly purple. Both the male and female are silvery grey on their undersides with orange crescent markings and black dots. Can you imagine seeing this blue butterfly in your backyard? Show all your plants a little TLC! Remember, without flowers there wouldn’t be chocolate! When you care for flowers, butterflies, bees and birds will surely thank you in their own way. And, who knows, maybe one day, the Karner Blue Butterfly will return and call Canada home again.

A Few Fun Facts

  • Eggs will be laid in the summer months and will over-winter on the leaves of the lupines, hatching the following summer to restart the entire circle of life.
  • In 1944 Vladimir Nabokov identified the Blue Karner for the first time.
  • The Larvae are the same colour as the Lupine leaves, bright green, so as to blend in more easily.

Photo is courtesy of Annie Spratt-Unsplash.com

Recipe for a garden full of birds, butterflies and bees through native plants
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Recipe for a garden full of birds, butterflies and bees through native plants

Gardening is a great way to de-stress by communing with nature and getting some fresh air and mild exercise. Gardeners know this from personal experience.  But you may not know that gardening can also be a means of conserving biodiversity.  Biodiversity is the living part of the natural world, from species to ecosystems. Biodiversity is in decline worldwide due to habitat loss, and various other anthropogenic causes.  You can create habitat and increase biodiversity in your backyard -- including wild birds, native butterflies and bees -- by choosing the right plants - native plants! Many insect species feed directly on living plants; they’re called herbivores. A long time ago our native insect herbivores coevolved with native plants – the plant species that were here in North America before the European settlers arrived. Most native insect herbivores, such as caterpillars -- the larval form of butterflies and moths -- can eat only the living green leaves of native species they coevolved with. By planting native species you’ll greatly increase insect diversity and abundance in your garden because you’ll be providing insect herbivores with the particular foods they need to survive. Now, some people might be thinking, “I don’t want more insects in my yard, I want less!” This point of view is understandable. The problem is, most of our beloved wild birds depend on abundant insect populations to feed their young.  If you want birds, you’ve got to have bugs! And, if you want lots of bugs to feed your birds, you’ve got to have their native food plants. Furthermore, the fruits and seeds of native plants will provide food for adult birds. Native plants play a key role in maintaining food webs, or the relationships between animals and what they eat. However, most garden plants are non-native species. “Non-native” means that the species did not evolve in North America but evolved elsewhere, such as temperate Europe or Asia. Most gardens are full of non-native plants, and therefore devoid of food for native insects, the insects themselves, and the animals that depend on these insects for food.  But this can be reversed, simply by planting native species. A native plant garden is also the best all-around pollinator garden. Native plants provide abundant floral resources (pollen and nectar) that pollinators depend on for food. Canada is home to hundreds of species of native insect pollinators such as Solitary Bees, Bumble Bees, beetles, flies and butterflies.  And, as mentioned above, many butterflies and moths depend on the leaves of native plants.  The larvae need their native food plants to eat, grow and ultimately become the beautiful, colourful winged adult forms we love to see flitting around our gardens.  Caterpillars are bird food, and the winged adults, also eaten by birds, are important pollinators.  Beetle pollinators, native fly pollinators such as syrphids, wild bees, and the non-native Honey Bee will find plenty of pollen and nectar to eat in a native plant garden. In a nutshell, native plants do triple-duty: they provide fresh green leaves for insect herbivores, floral resources for nectar-and-pollen-eaters, and fruits and seeds for adult birds and mammals. Native plants are the only plants that provide all three of these key food resources that keep our native animals thriving and our ecosystems functioning.  Native plants feed everyone!

Grass Roots: Small Ideas to Bring the Outside In
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Grass Roots: Small Ideas to Bring the Outside In

[caption id="attachment_23392" align="alignleft" width="200"]Laura Strachan, Guest Blogger Laura Strachan, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by Nature Canada's guest blogger, Laura Strachan. I am willing to bet that most of us see more concrete than grass in the run of a day. Hustling from home to office, to malls, to school and back we tend to lose sight of the immense natural world around us as we travel through our daily routine. But let’s not forget what keeps us alive. There is real dirt under that concrete! Birds and animals are running around in the streets! That tree in the mall is helping to clean the air!

Green and Clean

Mom always said “a room should always have some greenery”. Having plants in your home makes an underestimated contribution to the comfort of the room. They’re alive, fresh and can help clean the air. Houseplants are a decor must that never go out of style.

For the Birds

Birds are amazing creatures, so why not encourage them to visit? Install a feeder near a window so you can get an undisturbed view. This one is inexpensive and attaches right to your window, or DIY with some of these ideas. You might want to sign out a book on local birds from your library so you know what you are looking at! As well, you can check out these 12 different ways to make your whole backyard bird-friendly

basil-932079_1280Grow Food

Double down on the houseplants and grow edible ones! Herbs and microgreens can be grown easily in a windowbox or mini greenhouse. A variety of dwarf fruit trees can also be purchased that can be grown indoors. Check out your local nursery for details and what suits your environment best.

Plant a Tree

You can never have too many trees. Trees clean the air, create privacy, provide food and habitat for small creatures. If you don’t have land, look for Adopt-a-Tree programs in your area, where you can foster the growth and maintenance of trees on public property.

Decorate with Nature

It’s free! Fill a glass bowl or vase with pinecones or acorns. Use those special rocks and shells your kids collected in a centrepiece. Enlarge photos from your favorite canoe trip and frame them on the wall. Put the paddle on the wall too! Use rocks or logs as bookends. Be careful not to disturb any growth or habitats that are in use when collecting your items.

Open a Window

Take an hour a week to open all of the windows and “air out” your home. Freshen up the air and let some natural light in! Sadly we can’t all be on a perpetual camping trip to enjoy the outdoors. But some simple additions may help bring the natural world to you wherever you live.  And take the opportunity to learn about your living environment while you’re at it. It’s right outside your door! Email Signup

Nature Canada to host community fall BioBlitz in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area
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Nature Canada to host community fall BioBlitz in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area

OTTAWA (September 10, 2014) ― Nature Canada and naturalist experts from across the National Capital Region are gathering this weekend to host a fall “BioBlitz” in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area near Britannia Park. The event is open to the general public and is part of a larger effort to learn more about the state of local biodiversity and catalogue changes over time in population patterns. The event runs over a 24 hour period from 3pm on Friday to 3pm on Saturday and includes guided tours for the general public focussing on how to identify groups such as plants, birds, amphibians and reptiles. “Our goal is to involve the general public in the scientific process and to have fun while doing it,” said Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas. MacDonald continued, “our hope is that lots of people join us for a fun, engaging day at this unique urban wilderness site”. MacDonald and other Ottawa-area naturalist experts are aiming to locate, identify and photograph as many different species as possible around the site in a 24 hour period. For more information including a full schedule of events and directions to the site, members of the general public are encouraged to visit: http://naturecanada.ca/news/blog/nature-canadas-fall-bioblitz-at-mud-lake/

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[one_half][separator headline="h2" title="Media Contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager 613-562-3447 ext 248 | pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl, Conservation Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 252 | skirkpatrick-wahl@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 241 | mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada.[/one_half_last]

The Great Southern Exodus
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The Great Southern Exodus

“Imagine your lawn crawling north away from your house at a speed of about five and a half feet per year.”
It’s a powerful image Dr. Lawrence Smith uses to describe the impact of climate change in his recent book, The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future, which has garnered him media attention.
After a bit of searching, I found numerous credible sources citing scientific papers that back up his startling prediction. It falls in line with research findings that have been years in the making. I might add that to understand the full impact of Smith’s analogy, you’d also have to imagine that your south-facing backyard is shrinking, drying up, and losing lustre.
But we’re not just talking about your lawn and backyard vegetable patch. Smith paints a picture of a very real and extensively documented phenomenon that will have wide-ranging effects. As global temperatures rise, plants and animals will be pushed north and up in to higher altitudes.
Animals and plants are sensitive to changes in temperature, with several studies showing that some have adapted to regional warming by shifting their range to the north. Global-scale models predict a continuous northerly shift in both plant and animal distributions.
But keep in mind that even if species have the flexibility to adapt and keep up with a changing climate, physical barriers such as mountains and human settlements could stand in the way. Other factors like food availability and soil types could also prevent a range shift.
Animals and plants that are already under considerable stress are least likely to make the move north, a point that is highlighted in an assessment by the European Environmental Agency.
In a recent interview with Bob MacDonald, host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks, Dr. Smith updated his original analogy to something a bit more dramatic in scale.
“It's five and a half feet per day," Dr. Smith told host Bob McDonald. "And this number refers not to the spread of agriculture, but to the mass migration of biological life that is already happening on our planet and has been for several decades. On average the world's plants and animals have been moving northward to higher latitude at a rate of about six kilometres per decade."

Springtime Flowers
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Springtime Flowers

Jim Dubois, one of our online supporters, recently sent us a beautiful array of spingtime flowers that can be found along the Quinsam river in British Columbia. Thanks for sharing Jim. If you like Jim's work make sure to visit his website at http://www.theineleganteagle.com/.
Pink Fawn Lily Pink Fawn Lily
Swamp LanternSwamp Lantern (also known as skunk cabbage)
Salmonberry Salmonberry
Lady's SmockLady's Smock
Yellow Wood VioletYellow Wood Violet

Biofuel Crops Raise Invasion Concerns
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Biofuel Crops Raise Invasion Concerns

Concern over invasive biofuel crops has caused the IUCN to look deeper into the potential risks associated with their introduction and impacts on local livelihoods and the environment. Nadine McCormick, IUCN Energy Network Coordinator puts it this way: “Current biofuel production is based on established food crops, and while this raises other sustainability concerns, the risk of invasion is not large. However, this risk will increase exponentially as new plants – that grow fast with many seeds in pretty much any land – are cultivated for more advanced biofuels.” Not all biofuel crops are invasive, but this new report does push for more precautionary actions to avoid any detrimental impacts on the environment and livelihoods. The invasive nature, which is not inherent, of a biofuel crop depends on the environment in which it is grown as well as the method by which it is grown. Geoffrey Howard, IUCN Global Invasive Species Coordinator, states that “biological invasions from the introduced species themselves, as well as from the production processes, are real risks to biodiversity and livelihoods,” and goes on to say “the risks can be reduced by following the guidelines we’ve set out.” The guidelines, a product of cooperation between the IUCN and the Roundtable on Sustainable Energy (RSE), include step-by-step recommendations for reducing the risk of biological invasions by biofuel crops. The report can be found here: http://www.iucn.org/?4716 I remember working on an environmental impact assessment project in 2007 for a Jatropha (a biofuel crop) plantation project in southern Egypt; beautiful Luxor and Aswan! We had not listed biological invasions as one of our concerns due to the project’s location – in the middle of nowhere without any signs of life. It would be great to go back and see what has become of this project.

New Report Highlights Relationship Between People and Plants in the Boreal Forest
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New Report Highlights Relationship Between People and Plants in the Boreal Forest

The David Suzuki Foundation, the Canadian Boreal Initiative and the Boreal Songbird Initiative have released a new report emphasizing the role that traditional aboriginal knowledge plays in conserving the boreal forest. Conservation Value of North American Boreal Forest from an Ethnobotanical Perspective stresses the ethnobotanical (the relationship between people and plants) importance of the boreal forest for Canada's Aboriginal people (Inuit, Metis, and First Nations) and demonstrates how their traditional knowledge has been passed on for many generations. The report also sheds light on the different uses of plants in their livelihoods, beyond utilitarian purposes. “The Boreal landscape was, and in many incidences continues to act as a grocery store, pharmacy, school, church, a source of strength and the place in which wisdom is attained.” The report goes on to state that in addition to the lack of protection for many species in the Boreal region by the Species at Risk Act, or provincial/territorial species legislation, there are numerous threats such as habitat loss, fragmentation, climate change and invasive species, all of which are human-induced pressures that pose a significant threat to the boreal forest and the Aboriginal people who depend on it. The report urges that the consent and consultation of indigenous people is a crucial step to be taken in land use planning decisions so as not to impact their lifestyles and well-being. Read the full report at http://www.borealbirds.org/ethnobotany.shtml.

Featured Photo: Perfect Indian Pipes
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Featured Photo: Perfect Indian Pipes

Judith Blakeley shared this photo of Indian Pipes with us. She writes:

One doesn't often see indian pipes in perfect condition. This group was photographed in the deep woods near Torbay, Newfoundland last August, soon after they emerged from the sphagnum moss.
You may remember that one of our staff members snapped a photo of this exceptional, non-photosynthetic plant a couple of weeks ago. Have you run across any interesting or unusual plants in the woods? Let us know in the comments below!

Nature Photo Mystery Revealed: Indian Pipe
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Nature Photo Mystery Revealed: Indian Pipe

A co-worker of mine, Sue, came across this while walking through trails this weekend 12km from Bon Echo Provincial Park. Not sure what it was, she quickly snapped a photo and brought it into the office. So what is it?
Says staff naturalist Ted Cheskey:
The plant in Sue’s photo is called Indian Pipe. The white colour betrays the fact that this is a plant – but a strange one, in that it does not produce chlorophyll – the green pigment used in photosynthesis that normally is used to place an organism in the plant kingdom. In other words, this is an exceptional plant.
Not being able to photosynthesize, it gets its energy from other plants, by tapping into them with its rootlets. It is not alone in being an “exceptional” plant. Other plants that derive their nourishment from fungus or other plants include Pinesap, Beechdrops, One-flowered Cancerroot, and Squawroot.

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