Taking a Stand for Firefly Species Facing Extinction
Published on May 15, 2019
The Xerces Society and the Center for Biological Diversity have submitted a joint petition for the emergency listing of the Bethany Beach firefly (Photuris bethaniensis)—with a request for the concurrent designation of critical habitat—under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Bethany Beach firefly is a rare and declining bioluminescent beetle currently known only to inhabit a narrow swath of coastal habitat along the Atlantic shore of Delaware, some of which is undergoing development. An emergency ESA listing would protect this species from imminent extinction by addressing current threats, including habitat loss and fragmentation.
Reflecting on a Multi-Year Conservation Biological Control Project
Published on May 9, 2019
From 2015–2019, the Xerces Society brought a series of 61 day-long courses on conservation biological control to 49 states and 2,000 participants, with far-ranging results.
Five Ways Wildlife Preservation Canada’s Bumble Bee Recovery & Conservation Initiatives are Benefitting from the Success of Bumble Bee Watch
Published on May 2, 2019
We at Wildlife Preservation Canada want to thank each and every one of the community scientists that contribute valuable data to Bumble Bee Watch, and the expert verifiers across North America who have spent countless hours identifying submissions. Wildlife Preservation Canada’s efforts to conserve native bumble bees would be nothing without help from our volunteer Read more …
Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – April 2019
Published on April 30, 2019
April’s featured staff are all Farm Bill Pollinator Conservation Planners, and are spread across the country—driving the adoption of cover cropping in California, guiding blueberry farmers to become more pollinator-friendly in Maine, and raising awareness of the importance of rangeland for pollinator conservation in North Dakota.
How to Support Monarch Butterfly Conservation—During Earth Week and Beyond!
Published on April 27, 2019
Helping the monarch back to full health isn’t going to be easy or quick, but we can’t stand by and do nothing. If we all plant a small patch of milkweed and nectar plants, and all think about how we can change our actions to make things better for monarchs, together we can transform the landscape to allow the monarch to rebound—and give our children the gift of watching orange wings flap in the sunshine.
Bee City USA Mobilizes Communities to Support Imperiled Pollinators—Here’s How to Join
Published on April 26, 2019
Earth Week is an inspiring time, brimming with opportunities to make a difference in the days following Earth Day—and beyond. If you want to mobilize your city or county to make room for pollinators, then the Xerces Society’s initiative, Bee City USA, may have the formula you need. Bee City USA founder Phyllis Stiles explains how to get your community certified.
Honoring Robbin Thorp, a Living Legend of North American Bee Conservation
Published on April 24, 2019
Robbin Thorp, Professor Emeritus at University of California–Davis, has made lasting contributions to the bee conservation community in ways that might never be measured, but will certainly be felt. As such, it is fitting to recognize this living legend of North American bumble bee conservation during Earth Week.
Pesticide-Free Gardening Tips for Earth Week and Beyond
Published on April 23, 2019
In a home garden, the Xerces Society urges people to consider non-chemical pest management. To meet this challenge, please consider spending Earth Week in the garden, enjoying the diversity of insects, and taking a few of the actions outlined below to simultaneously minimize pest problems and avoid the use of pesticides.
Bee Better Certified Engages the Almond Industry
Published on April 22, 2019
With a robust set of requirements on pesticide use and the highest standards for protecting and restoring pollinator habitat of any food certification, Bee Better Certified represents a new era in biodiversity protection on farms—and what better time to celebrate this program’s growth than during Earth Week?
Pledge to Bring Back the Pollinators—on Earth Day and Every Day
During Earth Week 2019, we are asking you to consider taking simple, yet impactful, steps to make the world better for bees, butterflies, and other essential invertebrates.
Citizen Scientists Take on the Cultivar Conundrum
Published on April 10, 2019
The Xerces Society’s blog post “Picking Plants for Pollinators: The Cultivar Conundrum” highlighted the lack of research on this topic, which limits our ability to make informed choices regarding the use of cultivars for supporting pollinators and other beneficial insects. To help address this knowledge gap, Budburst launched the Nativars research project in 2018.
Announcing the 2019 DeWind Awardees
Published on April 3, 2019
The Xerces Society is happy to announce the 2019 Dewind awardees: Niranjana Krishnan, a PhD candidate at Iowa State University, and Molly Wiebush, a master’s student at Florida State University.
A Quest for Bumble Bee Nests: The Missing Link
Published on March 26, 2019
Researchers at York University are recruiting members from across North America for a very important mission. You will need to be vigilant, always observing. This subject is elusive. Determination, a sharp eye, and a smartphone will be your greatest assets. The mission, should you choose to accept it: find and submit sightings of bumble bee nests.
Bee Better Certified: An Evolving Standard
Published on March 22, 2019
After a year and a half of Bee Better Certified, we have analyzed how the standards work for the many operations that are already implementing them, and have adjusted our requirements accordingly.
Baller Beneficials! The 2019 Xerces Society Division 1 Beneficial Insect Championship
Published on March 21, 2019
The 2019 Xerces Society Division 1 Beneficial Invertebrate Championship was a wild ride, with many upsets—and, of course, at the heart of it was the opportunity to learn about a wide array of fascinating creatures.
Citizen Scientists Can Help Support Imperiled Western Monarchs
Published on March 12, 2019
We encourage everyone to take some time while hiking in the California coast range, California Central Valley, and the rest of the West, to help researchers by submitting any and all monarch and milkweed observations this year to the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper website.
Photo Essay: Trinational Monarch Meeting and Exploring Mexico’s Monarch Overwintering Sites
Published on March 7, 2019
Xerces Society Endangered Species Conservation Biologist and Western Monarch Lead Emma Pelton recounts her recent experience in Mexico with this photo essay.
Mitigating the Effects of Heat on Urban Pollinators
Published on March 6, 2019
By coming together with others in our communities who care about climate change—and working to increase the numbers of those who care—we will be able to bring about the changes that are needed before it’s too late for our pollinators.
Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – February 2019
Published on February 25, 2019
February’s featured staff member has been working on a hedgerow featuring diverse native species in North Carolina.
National Butterfly Center Gets Reprieve—But Border Wall Will Impact Much More
Published on February 15, 2019
There are many reasons to oppose the wall along the southern border—including the loss of habitat for some of our smallest and most important animals.
Cedaroak Park Primary School Gardens Offer Learning Opportunities
Published on February 11, 2019
Being assigned to create an interpretive panel for Cedaroak Park Primary School, where I attended grade school, was a special experience.
New Year’s Count of Western Monarchs Confirms Decline, Trends Seen in Previous Years
Published on February 5, 2019
Overall, the count data revealed an average decrease of 38% between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s counts.
Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – January 2019
Published on January 28, 2019
January’s featured staff have been working on establishing pollinator habitat with a multi-year hedgerow project in California’s Central Valley; and, in Maine, collaborating with a diverse array of partners and stakeholders to both facilitate habitat restoration for native bees and navigate the ins and outs of the Endangered Species Act.
Record Low Number of Overwintering Monarch Butterflies in California—They Need Your Help!
Published on January 17, 2019
We urge you to join us and our colleagues in the western monarch science and conservation community in taking meaningful, swift action to help save western monarchs.
Pollinators and the 2018 Farm Bill
Published on January 10, 2019
Although we did not get everything we wanted in the 2018 Farm Bill, the very good news is that pollinators are still a priority for the USDA and the Natural Resource Conservation Service—and formal commitments to support conservation efforts are now in effect for at least the next five years.
Climate News Round-Up: January 2019
Published on January 3, 2019
Climate change is an unprecedented global challenge. The magnitude of the problem and the consequences of inaction can be overwhelming, but there is still time to act. While the federal government is rolling back some of the progress that has been made in reducing carbon emissions, many cities, states, and businesses around the country remain committed to climate action. We can build on this momentum and support further action.
Businesses Aligning with the Life that Sustains Us
Published on December 20, 2018
The trend of business owners aligning with social and environmental causes is on the rise. Here at the Xerces Society, we are feeling these benefits—and are very thankful for the support.
Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – December 2018
Published on December 17, 2018
December’s featured staff hail from Iowa and Minnesota, and have been making significant impacts in their respective states by educating farmers and other members of the public, helping to restore and build new habitat, and pushing for policies that support pollinators and other beneficial insects.
Are Freshwater Mussels in Hot Water?
Published on December 13, 2018
Conservation efforts for freshwater mussels, already challenging because of the demands upon fresh water from farming, industry, and human settlements, must now also contend with the threats posed by the warming climate. The impacts will result both from the changing environment and from our response to those changes, including our choices for managing water bodies and associated habitat.
Where Do Pollinators Go in the Winter?
Published on December 10, 2018
As the leaves and temperatures drop, it might be tempting to forget about your pollinator garden until spring. But don’t call it quits just yet! While it may seem like the bees have vanished for the year, they haven’t actually gone anywhere.
Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – November 2018
Published on December 3, 2018
November’s featured staff hail from Minnesota, Indiana, and California, and have been conducting training and outreach events, helping General Mills to implement their plan to plant 3,300 acres of pollinator habitat, and monitoring farm habitat plantings in the San Joaquin Valley.
Early Thanksgiving Counts Show a Critically Low Monarch Population in California
Published on November 29, 2018
The California overwintering population has been reduced to less than 0.5% of its historical size, and has declined by 86% compared to 2017. While western monarchs are facing unprecedented challenges right now, there is still hope that we can recover the population if we work quickly, strategically, and together.
A Shifting Climate Creates Winners and Losers
Published on November 27, 2018
To mitigate the impacts of climate change we need to increase the amount of high-quality and resilient habitat everywhere. Natural areas are the glue that holds all other habitat together, but for insects even small patches in connected networks within agricultural, suburban, urban, and other landscapes can be beneficial. Whether you are a gardener, a farmer, or the manager of a park or nature reserve, you can take action to protect and restore habitat. Xerces has resources to help on our website.
Western Monarch Numbers Expected to Be Low this Year
Published on November 15, 2018
You may be asking “What can I do to help the monarch?” Besides protecting habitat, avoiding pesticide use, and planting gardens, another way is to contribute monarch and milkweed data to Xerces-led citizen science efforts—namely, the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count and the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper.
Pesticide Program Update: Bee City USA, Treated Seeds, and Protecting Washington’s Waters
Published on November 13, 2018
The Pesticide Team’s efforts are varied, diverse, and plentiful, and thus it is difficult to summarize their work in one blog post! Nevertheless, here are select highlights from the summer and fall.
The Striking Beauty of Oklahoma’s Butterflies
Published on November 9, 2018
Oklahoma’s impressive butterfly fauna of more than 170 species includes the nation’s largest (the giant swallowtail) and the smallest (the western pygmy blue), and representatives of all six major butterfly families: Papilionidae (swallowtails), Pieridae (whites and sulphurs), Lycaenidae (gossamerwings), Hesperiidae (skippers), Riodinidae (metalmarks), and Nymphalidae (brush-foots).
Ups and Downs of English Chalk Grasslands
Published on November 1, 2018
About a third of Britain’s sixty resident butterfly species may be encountered on chalk grasslands, including small skipper, green hairstreak, small copper, meadow brown, Duke of Burgundy, and marbled white, but it is a handful of blues—common, chalkhill, small, and Adonis—that may be most characteristic of this habitat.
Fall Garden Tips to Benefit Bumble Bees All Year
Published on October 30, 2018
The growing season may be winding down, but fall is an important time to create habitat for bumble bees and other native pollinators. The work you do now will help support overwintering pollinators and support the next generation of bumble bees.
My First Hybrid: Limenitis archippus archippus × Limenitis arthemis astyanax
Published on October 25, 2018
Recently, photographer Bryan E. Reynolds encountered a rare hybrid of two of his favorite butterfly species—a well-deserved sighting for a passionate lepidopterist!
Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – October 2018
Published on October 23, 2018
Select updates from our team of restoration ecologists, entomologists, plant ecologists, and researchers.
Reflections and Exhortations on the Anniversary of the Clean Water Act
Published on October 18, 2018
Although the future of our nation’s water is currently murky, we still have time to make things right. We have the past successes of the environmental movement for inspiration, and the research and recommendations of hundreds of modern scientists to strive towards.
The Xerces Society Seeks Endangered Species Protections for California Bumble Bees
Published on October 16, 2018
Protecting these species is not only the right thing to do; it will also help to maintain the healthy ecosystems that make California such a remarkable and productive state.
Celebrate Invertebrates During National Apple Month
Published on October 10, 2018
We owe our beautiful autumn apple harvest to invertebrates—pollinators and beneficial insects alike. No matter how you obtain your apples—whether you pick them yourself, grab them at the grocery store, or go bobbing for them—it is important to take a moment to remember the invertebrates that make this delicious harvest possible.
Keeping the Lights Burning: The Status of Fireflies in the United States and Canada
Published on October 1, 2018
If there is one thing we have discovered during our assessment effort, it is that there is still much to be learned about the world of fireflies. Xerces will continue to seek a better understanding of these enchanting animals and how best to protect them. May their lights shine on for their sakes, and for ours.
Celebrating the Legacy of Rachel Carson
Published on September 27, 2018
The environmental complexities Rachel Carson illuminated in Silent Spring are only part of her far-reaching impact. Her raw determination, even in the face of severe illness, and her propensity for breaking barriers, provide a compelling example for environmentalists. May we all continue the fight for the well-being of invertebrates, ecosystems, and our world.
Can Robobees Solve the Pollination Crisis?
Published on September 17, 2018
The problem is more complex than just crops. At least 85 percent of all terrestrial plant species either require or strongly benefit from some form of animal pollination, and the idea of robotic pollinators ignores the many wild plants in meadows, prairies, hedgerows, and forests. Focusing solely on crop pollination and failing to take the pollination of native plants into account may well lead to a deterioration in the plant communities that make up the very fabric of our environment.
Keep Monarchs Wild!
Published on September 11, 2018
Instead of rearing—which is risky and unproven in helping monarchs—we should focus on more effective ways to conserve these glorious wild animals. Our tactics should address the reasons the species is in trouble to begin with. We can do this through taking action to protect natural habitat; to plant native milkweed and flowers; avoid pesticides; support wildlife-friendly, local, and organic agriculture; contribute to research efforts via citizen science; and organize ourselves to push for policy changes.
The Endangered Species Act needs your help!
Published on August 29, 2018
We need your voice to help defend one of our most important wildlife protection laws. Since 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been at the forefront of species protection, placing the United States as a world leader in science-based conservation. The ESA is our nation’s most effective law for protecting animals and plants in Read more …
Lincoln Brower: A Life Well Spent
Published on July 31, 2018
Remembering a ground-breaking monarch researcher, a passionate advocate for monarchs, and a beloved member of the conservation community.
Kicking Off Canadian Bumble Bee Watch Training Events!
Published on July 26, 2018
During Pollinator Week this year (June 18th to 24th) multiple locations in Ontario and Alberta were buzzing with activity, including an assortment of Bumble Bee Watch citizen science training events led by Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC). Although anyone with a camera and internet access can participate in Bumble Bee Watch, a variety of projects are Read more …
#PicturePerfectPollinator Photo Contest Winners
Published on July 2, 2018
Thanks for all the entries into our Pollinator Week photo contest! You can review all the entries here! Facebook | Twitter | Instagram Winner “Most Interesting” Category Winner “Prettiest Pollinator” Category Winner “Best of Show” Category Honorable Mentions With nearly 2,000 entries it was tough to choose. Here are some other favorite Read more …
Bumble Bee Die-Off Under Investigation in Virginia
Published on June 21, 2018
Pollinator week is set at an ideal time in mid-June. People around the country are enjoying the profusion of pollinators visiting the flowering plants in and around their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, bee kill incidents have marred what should be a week of celebration. Here in my own state of Oregon, between 2013 – 2015, there were Read more …
Xerces Society + Bee City USA = A Match Made in Pollinator Heaven
Published on June 11, 2018
For over 45 years, the Xerces Society has worked to make a better world for bees, butterflies, tiger beetles, snails, mussels, and many other invertebrates, and ultimately, to make a better world for us. We have worked to protect the most vulnerable animals on the planet, provided information on how to protect these animals to Read more …
Surprising Results from a Survey of Bumble Bee Watch Users!
Published on May 23, 2018
This past February, Bumble Bee Watch (BBW) users were invited to take a survey run by York University researchers to learn more about participant demographics, motives, and confidence with bumble bee identification. Three hundred forty-two people from across Canada and the United States responded to the survey, representing members of various ages, locations, and years Read more …
From the Field: Trees for Bees
Published on May 15, 2018
Last Friday, I visited Mt. Cuba Center botanical garden in Hockessin, DE to give a presentation. Over the past few years, I have had the honor of being invited to Mt. Cuba to talk about pollinators, beneficial insects, and different steps we can all take to improve habitat for these important animals. Each time I Read more …
Connecticut’s Sandplains Need Protection
Published on May 11, 2018
Sandplains are one of New England’s rarest ecosystems. Areas of dry sandy soil left by glacial outwash, sandplains support sparse vegetation and bare ground. At first glance, a sandplain looks like a scruffy wasteland, hardly something worth standing up for—and typically, no one has. Sandplains have been subjected to mining, development, and fragmentation resulting in Read more …
‘Weird and Wonderful’ Plants for Pollinators: Pale Indian Plantain
In celebration of National Wildflower Week, we’re highlighting some of our favorite “weird and wonderful” plants for pollinators. You can find the best plants for pollinators anytime at xerces.org/plant-lists. Pale Indian Plantain Arnoglossum atriplicifolium (Syn. Cacalia atriplicifolia) Not to be confused with the banana-like vegetable known from Cuban cuisine, nor the common broadleaf “weed” found in Read more …
‘Weird and Wonderful’ Plants for Pollinators: Wild Quinine
Published on May 10, 2018
In celebration of National Wildflower Week, we’re highlighting some of our favorite “weird and wonderful” plants for pollinators. You can find the best plants for pollinators anytime at xerces.org/plant-lists. Wild Quinine Parthenium integrifolium Also known as wild feverfew, this plant has a long history of medicinal use by Native Americans and the U.S. ARMY. Read more …
‘Weird and Wonderful’ Plants for Pollinators: Rattlesnake Master
Published on May 9, 2018
In celebration of National Wildflower Week, we’re highlighting some of our favorite “weird and wonderful” plants for pollinators. You can find the best plants for pollinators anytime at xerces.org/plant-lists. Rattlesnake Master Eryngium yuccifolium Everything about rattlesnake master is a bit peculiar. The plants grow in the prairies and meadows of the eastern U.S., yet Read more …
‘Weird and Wonderful’ Plants for Pollinators: Prairie Smoke
Published on May 7, 2018
In celebration of National Wildflower Week we’re highlighting some of our favorite “weird and wonderful” plants for pollinators. You can find the best plants for pollinators anytime at xerces.org/plant-lists. Prairie Smoke Geum triflorum Where there’s smoke, there’s fire – but where there’s prairie smoke, there are bumble bees, buzz-pollination, and a bit of thievery. As Read more …
Bee Friendlier With Your Lawncare
Published on May 6, 2018
A lush, green, weed-free lawn is as American as apple pie. It tells the whole neighborhood that you are a competent, hard-working, contributing member of society. Dandelions and overgrown lawn are a sign of neglect, incompetence, and laziness – or so our traditional American landscape would have you believe. Americans have a love affair with Read more …
Managing for Monarchs in the West: A new guide to protecting the monarch butterfly from the Pacific to the Rockies.
Published on April 30, 2018
Monarch butterflies in western North America are in trouble. What was once a huge number of monarchs that converged on overwintering sites in coastal California has dwindled year after year. The number of butterflies has fallen by over 95% since the 1980s, with declines also observed in breeding populations during the spring and summer. With Read more …
10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day
Published on April 20, 2018
Of course, every day is a great day to support invertebrates and their habitat – but Earth Day is a great time to do something extra special. Here are some ways you can work to promote a healthy planet for invertebrates and the people they let share their planet. Plant something for pollinators: Here’s a Read more …
Tropical Milkweed – a No Grow?
Published on April 19, 2018
Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is a non-native milkweed that has exploded in popularity in response to the demand for milkweed. It is simple to propagate, allowing growers to rapidly produce the plant for quick sale. The plant is also attractive, both to humans and monarchs, providing flowers and lush green foliage throughout the growing season Read more …
Unblinded by Science
Published on April 13, 2018
The Xerces Society has become well-known for our publications, trainings, and for the acres of habitat we’ve worked to protect and restore. What is often less visible is the scientific work our staff are engaged in which underpins these efforts. More than two-thirds of our staff are scientists with diverse backgrounds and expertise, who are Read more …
Rain Gardens Are a Win/Win
Published on April 4, 2018
When it rains, where does the water go? Many erroneously assume storm water is captured, treated, and returned to the water supply. In fact, this is not the case in municipal water systems, where the cost and difficulty associated with treating stormwater makes such a prospect untenable. The reality is that the rain that pours Read more …
Meet Indiana’s Official State Insect
Published on March 26, 2018
What began as a geography lesson for students of Maggie Samudio’s second grade class at Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette, Indiana, took a detour to subjects of entomology, politics, and perseverance. After four years of lobbying, letter writing, and campaigning, Say’s firefly has become Indiana’s first state insect. Four years ago Kayla Xu made Read more …
Scientists Urge Action to Protect Waters from Neonicotinoid Insecticides
Published on March 13, 2018
Will California’s regulators take steps to curtail neonicotinoid water pollution? If they take the advice of scientists, they will. Today, a group of 56 scientists that includes many prominent researchers studying the effects of neonicotinoids sent a letter to California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) highlighting the threat neonicotinoids pose to the health of California’s Read more …
Second New Year’s Count Supports Monarchs Movement Between Sites
Published on March 7, 2018
The Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count provides a long-running record of the number of monarchs overwintering in California—including the steep decline of recent decades. Volunteers and biologists who take part in the Thanksgiving Count have been invaluable in monitoring the monarch population each fall for over twenty years. Last year, another count was added Read more …
What to do While Waiting Out Winter
Published on March 5, 2018
T.S. Eliot believed April to be the cruelest month. I’ve long contended, however, that he was a month late. Where I live, in Central Pennsylvania, March brings both the random 60-degree day as well as punishing ice storms. It’s not unheard of to have 40-degree temperature swings within a 24 hour period, or to have Read more …
Newly released monarch overwintering site management plan provides blueprint for protecting and managing monarch groves
Published on March 2, 2018
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Groundswell Coastal Ecology, California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have developed a western monarch butterfly overwintering site management plan that also serves as a template for land managers at other overwintering sites. The Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Site Management Plan for Lighthouse Field Read more …
How Our Gardening Choices Affect the Health of Our Waterways
Published on February 22, 2018
This article originally appeared in our Fall 2017 issue of Wings Magazine “Why do you have so many animals in your yard?” Curious who was speaking, I looked up from weeding to see a small boy standing on the sidewalk watching bumble bees collect pollen from the California poppies. I smiled and replied, “I created Read more …
Valentine’s Day: For the Love of Flies
Published on February 14, 2018
Today, many of us are strategically navigating a heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates hoping to avoid the weird crème filled in favor of the delicious toffees and nougats. This delicious gift, and all of our other favorite chocolate fixes, come from cacao (or chocolate) trees, which depend on insect pollination to set fruits that contain Read more …
Very Low Numbers of Monarchs Overwintering in California may Reflect an Unusual Fall
Published on February 1, 2018
The Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count (WMTC) tracks the population of monarch butterflies that overwinter along the Pacific Coast in California and Baja California. Started in 1997, WMTC is one of the longest-running insect monitoring projects in the country. Continuing the tradition, this year, more than 150 enthusiastic volunteers spread out along the coast to find Read more …
Staff Stories: Life in the Suburbs
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of Wings Magazine With their manicured lawns and neat houses, the suburbs may not seem like welcoming places for wild creatures. Given a chance, though, wildlife will find a way to coexist with people. Suburbs are often less densely developed than older urban centers, and such Read more …
Wildlife Preservation Canada Continues Training “Bumble Bee Watchers”
Published on January 19, 2018
There are 40 different species of native bumble bee in Canada, and evidence suggests that up to a third of them are currently in decline. One of the most extreme examples of decline is the rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis). Formerly among the most common species across its range, it is now officially listed as Read more …
Sran Family Orchards: The First Bee Better Certified Farm
Published on January 10, 2018
As 2017 was drawing to a close, while many people were planning to fanfare the New Year, Sran Family Orchards quietly passed a different milestone: It became the first farm to become Bee Better Certified. Gaining this certification is recognition for the Sran family’s years of unheralded dedication, and we couldn’t be happier that Sran Read more …
California halts consideration of new uses of neonicotinoids in the state
Published on January 8, 2018
California has just taken a positive step for pollinators, aquatic organisms and all of us that rely on these important invertebrates. This week the California Department of Pesticide Regulation announced that, effective immediately, DPR will not consider applications for any new uses of a class of neonicotinoid insecticides which includes imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin and dinotefuran Read more …
Addressing Conservation in Urban Areas
Published on December 26, 2017
During my life I’ve had the good fortune to have worked on a broad range of conservation issues—canvassing to stop a dam on Nebraska’s Niobrara River when I was a teenager; seeking to limit the impact of off-road vehicles on national forests; participating in large landscapescale conservation of old-growth forests in the Sierra Nevada; and Read more …
From the Field: Counting Monarchs in Pismo Beach
Published on November 29, 2017
The Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count (WMTC) is in full swing, continuing through December 3rd – when hundreds of thousands of monarchs arrive along the California coast as part of their long-distance seasonal migration. The WMTC is a long-term citizen science monitoring effort and the enthusiasm within the count is truly contagious. From the Xerces office Read more …
Picking Plants for Pollinators: The Cultivar Conundrum
Published on November 21, 2017
A visitor to our Facebook page recently asked: “Do cultivars serve as host plants for beneficial insects? For example, does Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’? I know the preferred plant is native R. fulgida or hirta but the ‘Goldstrums’ are in all the nurseries and home gardens.” Unfortunately, not all cultivars are the same. Some are bred for Read more …
How to Host a Facebook Fundraiser
Published on November 14, 2017
As we reach the time of year where the spirit of giving is celebrated and we reflect on what’s most important to us, we’d be honored if you’d consider doing a fundraiser for Xerces. Such efforts not only help support the work we do, they build awareness about the importance of invertebrates and allow you to share your enthusiasm for improving the world for these animals.
Autumn Pollinators in Oklahoma
In my opinion, the best time to be in Oklahoma is late summer and fall. The huge number of bees and butterflies visiting our flowers provides endless enjoyment to pollinator watchers like my kids and I. This fall, I’ve spent my free time rearing and tagging monarchs and looking for nectar plants that monarchs prefer Read more …
From the Field: New Meadow Blooms at Cascadian Farm
Nestled in the foothills of the breathtaking North Cascades mountain range in western Washington’s Upper Skagit Valley, Cascadian Farm is now even more beautiful with the addition of a showy new meadow. Working with farm director Ashley Minnerath and farmer Clay Godbolt, Xerces designed the 1/4 acre meadow and site preparation process using only organic Read more …
Planning Your Plantings for Climate Resiliency
Published on November 10, 2017
It’s long been a primary tenet of gardening for pollinators to ensure you provide plants that bloom throughout the entire growing season. Not only is this just good gardening, ensuring your landscape is colorful from spring through fall, as the two examples that follow illustrate, it’s more essential than ever to ensure your garden is Read more …
Going Beyond the Bloom: Don’t Be Just A Flower-Weather Friend
As cooler temperatures sweep across the Northeast, it can be easy to put thoughts of blooms, bees, and butterflies to bed until next spring. I think we can agree that many of us reserve visits to meadows, gardens, and other flower-rich habitats for warm, sunny days, so we can enjoy the diversity and beauty of Read more …
New Guidelines for Protecting California’s Butterfly Groves
Published on November 8, 2017
The fact that the monarch butterfly migrates is well-known. The tale of this seemingly fragile creature winging its way across hundreds or thousands of miles enthralls children and adults alike, and has led to a massive level of interest by people everywhere in growing milkweed and other flowers to support this annual cycle. But monarchs Read more …
The Annual Return of the Unwanted Houseguests
Published on November 7, 2017
Written by Scott Moeller. Scott is an interpretive naturalist and director of the Linnaeus Arboretum at Gustavus Adolphus College. This article originally appeared in the online edition of the St. Peter Herald and has been reposted with the authors permission. The postscript is our own. If you’ve ventured outside recently, you may have found yourself in a Read more …
Fun with Harvesters
Published on November 1, 2017
This story was contributed by Bryan Reynolds, photographer and Xerces supporter In September, I visited the town of Norman, close to where I live in Oklahoma, to give a photography workshop to a group of botanists from the University of Oklahoma. The workshop was held in Saxon Park, a small park that has running/walking trails through Read more …
New Research Confirms Decline in Western Freshwater Mussels
Published on October 27, 2017
When we talk about native freshwater mussels (not the invasive zebra mussels you’ve heard so much about), we often start by mentioning how obscure they are, that they look like rocks and live in places where they go largely unseen. It’s true that freshwater mussels aren’t as showy as butterflies, or as celebrated as bees, Read more …
Planting for Pollinators: Button Bush
Published on October 26, 2017
This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Button Bush Cephalanthus occidentalis A popular cultivar of button bush is ‘Sputnik’ and when you see Read more …
Searching for Skippers on Oregon’s Wild Southwest Coast
Published on October 18, 2017
The Southern Oregon coast is a wild place. Situated at the convergence of the Coast Range and the Klamath-Siskiyous, this corner of the state is widely regarded as one of the country’s biodiversity hotspots. Puffin-dotted sea stacks and agate beaches quickly give way to a tangle of madrone, hemlock, and oak marching upward into thick Read more …
Re-Flowering the Valley
Published on October 13, 2017
This article originally appeared in our Spring 2017 issue of Wings Magazine When he visited California in the late 1800s, John Muir encountered a remarkable sight: “At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine, forty or fifty miles wide, five hundred miles long, one Read more …
Leave the Leaves!
Published on October 6, 2017
Besides providing the right plants, and protecting your garden from pesticides, one of the next most valuable things you can do to support pollinators and other invertebrates is to provide them with the winter cover they need in the the form of fall leaves and standing dead plant material. Frequently however, this is the hardest Read more …
Citizen Science Data Gives Proof of Need for Regulating Commercial Bumble Bees, Used in Expert Testimony
Published on October 4, 2017
While the honey bee is the most common managed crop pollinator, the common Eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) is also managed and used for crop pollination. Bumble bees are the bees responsible for virtually all of our hot house tomatoes, and many other greenhouse crops like sweet peppers. Companies rear bumble bees in captivity and Read more …
Observations by Citizen Scientists Expand Known Range of the Two-Spotted Bumble Bee
How can researchers be in more than one place at a time? By mobilizing a network of volunteers with cameras! One of the powerful aspects of Bumble Bee Watch, a citizen science project that allows contributors to record bumble bee observations, is that participants submit records of bumble bees from across North America including in Read more …
Calling all western monarch and milkweed observers!
Published on October 3, 2017
Fall is here, which means the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and monarchs from across the country are moving from summer breeding grounds back to their overwintering sites in California and Mexico. If you live in the West and have photos of monarchs and milkweed, we encourage you to post your Read more …
Post-Brexit Britain Grapples with the EU Moratorium on Neonicotinoids
Published on September 28, 2017
This article, written by Dave Goulson, originally appeared in our Spring 2017 issue of Wings Magazine. In 2013, the European Commission acted to protect bees by restricting the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides within the twenty-eight countries of the European Union. This wasn’t a complete ban on their use—it covered seed treatments only of certain Read more …
Telluride Teen Takes Action Helping Pollinators
Published on September 13, 2017
Through our work, we have the honor of meeting amazing people doing incredible things in their own towns. These are the people who inspire us. We hope they will inspire you too. In Telluride, Colo., Soleil Gaylord has been growing and sharing seeds since grade school, initiated a habitat revegetation project, and more recently, organized Read more …
Harvesting Milkweed Seed: a Pod and a Plan
Published on September 7, 2017
As with comedy, harvesting milkweed seed is all about timing. Too soon and the seed will be immature and won’t germinate, too late and it will have either blown away or involve a flossy mess you’ll need to deal with before sowing. Here we’ll explore some methods of harvesting milkweed seed, separating the truth from Read more …
Hawk Watch Counters Contribute Another Season of Dragonfly Observations
Published on August 31, 2017
This article originally appeared in the newsletter of the Hawk Watch Association of North America and has been edited from its original format. Hawk Watch observers who gather every year to document the annual journey of hundreds of thousands of hawks, eagles, and vultures southward to overwintering grounds, are ideally placed to note the migration Read more …
Striking Gold in Suburbia
Published on August 25, 2017
With a daughter who is active in lacrosse, I find myself spending a lot of time hanging around sports fields, whiling away hours as she practices. Recently at such a practice, I wandered the field edges of a suburban high school, looking for signs of insect life. We’d been to this school before and I’d Read more …
New Fact Sheet Highlights Risks to California’s Surface Water from Insecticides
Published on August 22, 2017
Neonicotinoids, a widely used class of systemic insecticides, have received lots of attention in recent years with research demonstrating a variety of lethal and sub-lethal impacts on bees and on other beneficial insects. There is also evidence of the effects of neonicotinoids on aquatic systems, with a growing number of studies showing impacts in prairie Read more …
Bringing Back Native Thistles
Published on August 16, 2017
Portions of this blog post have been excerpted from our new guide Native Thistles: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide Native thistles are a largely misunderstood and wrongly maligned group of wildflowers. Often confused with their prickly, invasive relatives such as Canada thistle, in reality, native thistles are benign and valuable plants that fill a variety of Read more …
The Secret Life of a Mistletoe Butterfly
Published on August 11, 2017
It’s the summer of 2009, and I’m slowly meandering down a shady Forest Service road, butterfly net in hand and royal blue hard hat on my head. Suddenly, I see a flicker of movement near a small puddle just ahead. I freeze, and then slowly start to creep forward. A few calculated (and then not Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Blazingstar
Published on August 9, 2017
This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Blazingstar Liatris spp. Blazing star species are butterfly magnets. When in bloom it’s not unusual to see clusters Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Wild Senna
Published on August 2, 2017
This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Wild Senna Senna marilandica, Senna hebecarpa Wild senna is a large perennial with the distinctive foliage and Read more …
To Protect Moths – Turn Out the Lights!
Published on July 27, 2017
Happy Moth Week! National Moth Week is the last full week in July and is a time to get outside – day or night – and appreciate these lesser celebrated Lepidoptera. In celebration of Moth Week we’re sharing the following excerpt from our book Gardening For Butterflies, which includes a chapter on moths and what Read more …
Don’t Downsize the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
Published on July 24, 2017
I first visited the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in 2002 when I was searching for new sites of the Mardon skipper butterfly. This rare butterfly had populations in and around the monument, and the Xerces Society was working to confirm that all known populations were still there and to search for any additional populations in the Read more …
Gardening For Moths
Published on July 21, 2017
Happy Moth Week! National Moth Week is the last full week in July and is a time to get outside – day or night – and appreciate these lesser celebrated Lepidoptera. In celebration of Moth Week we’re sharing the following excerpt from our book Gardening For Butterflies, which includes a chapter on moths and what Read more …
Midsummer Management of Pests and Pollinators
Published on July 13, 2017
It’s summer and organic farmers across the U.S. are in the thick of managing weeds and pests. Right now, many of you are getting ready to till out crabgrass, treating crops to control flea beetles or squash bugs, or maybe wishing you had chosen a different cover crop or crop rotation. When making decisions about Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Figwort
Published on July 5, 2017
This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Figwort Scrophularia spp. The odds are pretty good that you’ve never encountered figwort, or if you have Read more …
1.3 Billion Stems of Milkweed Needed in Midwest to Recover Monarch Population
Published on June 29, 2017
Adding milkweeds and other native flowering plants into midwestern agricultural lands is key to restoring monarch butterflies, with milkweed sowers from all sectors of society being critically needed for success. Within the past two decades monarch populations east of the Rockies have declined by 80%, with similar declines found in western populations. Because counting individual Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Cup Plant
Published on June 28, 2017
This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Cup Plant, Compass Plant, Rosinweed Silhpium spp. Cup plant, compass plant, and rosin weed are common names Read more …
Small Farms, Big Impact: Pollinator Habitat in the Midwest
Published on June 23, 2017
This article originally appeared in our Spring 2017 issue of Wings – available here “Prairie!” Just that one word in the subject line of an email from Erin, a Minnesota vegetable farmer with whom I am working, and I knew it was going to be a great message. The email itself was a series of photographs Read more …
Xerces’ Pollinator Team Grows, Again
Published on June 22, 2017
I have to admit to having worked at the Xerces Society for longer than anyone else. When I joined, there were five people on the staff and I was the only person in the nascent pollinator program. How things have changed: The Society has gone from strength to strength and the pollinator program has staff Read more …
Protecting Pollinators One Community at a Time
Pollinator week provides a time for us all to reflect on how we can help restore the amazing and diverse pollinator species so inextricably linked to our survival. While the task of bringing back the pollinators can seem daunting, if we focus on our own communities, we really can make a difference. We’ve provided ideas Read more …
Making Almond Orchards Better for Bees
Published on June 21, 2017
Almonds rely on bees for pollination. The crunchy, highly nutritious nuts are the earliest flowering crop in California’s Central Valley, transforming bare fields into a facsimile of a winter wonderland, with white blossoms coating the branches and the ground. To meet the pollination demands of these billions of blooms, farmers import millions of honey bees: Read more …
Bee Better Certified™: Creating Better Places for Bees
Published on June 19, 2017
Collaborating with farmers to protect and restore high-quality habitat for pollinators is a core part of the work of the Xerces Society. We have long realized that, because farming encompasses about half of the U.S. land base, we must work with farmers if we want to provide for a long-term future for pollinators. As part Read more …
Planning Ahead for Mosquito Season
Published on June 12, 2017
Mosquito breeding is well underway in many parts of the country, and every bite stings with the fear of Zika or other mosquito borne illness. It’s understandable why, in the face of a mounting health crisis, communities and health organizations scramble to prevent outbreaks by any means necessary. Spraying may seem like a quick way Read more …
First New Year’s Monarch Count Completed
Published on June 9, 2017
Volunteers with the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count have been monitoring the numbers of monarch butterflies overwintering in California every fall for the last twenty years. To better understand overwintering monarch clusters’ persistence during the overwintering season, the Xerces Society and Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count volunteers launched a New Year’s Count in January 2017. The first New Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Beardtongue
Published on June 8, 2017
This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Beardtongue Penstemon spp. Beardtongue gets its name for the hairs that line the protruding lower petal of Read more …
Recruiting Insect Allies to Combat Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Published on June 2, 2017
After a long winter, the arrival of spring has many of us cheering. Ephemeral wildflowers, budding trees, and chirping birds are all welcome signs of nature breaking dormancy. For most people, the sights and sounds of the landscape coming back to life invokes a sense of happiness. The sight of the brown marmorated stink bug Read more …
Managing Mosquitos: Common Sense Solutions
Published on May 31, 2017
Like backyard barbecues and fireflies at night, mosquitos are a part of summer. Mosquito bites are generally unpleasant in their own right, but when they bring with them diseases such as Zika and West Nile virus the impulse is often to use brute force, blanketing the landscape with pesticides rather than taking a more measured Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Culver’s Root
Published on May 24, 2017
This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Culver’s Root Veranicastrum virginicum spp. Culver’s Root has largely been ignored by beekeepers and gardeners, but has Read more …
Plants you can eat are a pollinator treat
Published on May 17, 2017
If you enjoy growing cucumbers, squash, melons, and other insect pollinated crops, you already know the necessity of having some pollinator pals around. Setting aside part of your vegetable garden specifically for pollinators provides direct benefits in the form of larger, more abundant, and better formed fruits and vegetables. But even fruits and vegetables that Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Pearly Everlasting
Published on May 5, 2017
It’s National Wildflower Week! The first week in May is a time to celebrate our native wildflowers and the pollinators they support. This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Tickseed
Published on May 3, 2017
It’s National Wildflower Week! The first week in May is a time to celebrate our native wildflowers and the pollinators they support. This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Blanketflower
Published on May 2, 2017
It’s National Wildflower Week! The first week in May is a time to celebrate our native wildflowers and the pollinators they support. This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Read more …
Expanding Our Understanding of Pesticide Impacts on Invertebrates
Published on April 28, 2017
In an effort to keep up with the constantly expanding information available about pesticides and their impacts on pollinators and other invertebrates, the Xerces Society created the Impacts of Pesticides on Invertebrates database (pesticideimpacts.org). The database is a collection of summaries of recent research articles; it does not include the articles themselves, but does provide Read more …
Week of Action: Watch a Film / Host a Screening
Published on April 25, 2017
Inspired by the #ScienceMarch, we’re posting a series of small actions you can take this week to further invertebrate conservation. They make you laugh, they make you cry – films provide valuable insights and inspiration. As a way of providing outreach on a subject you care about, screening a documentary can be a great entry Read more …
Every Species Needs A Voice: Speak Up!
Published on April 24, 2017
Inspired by the #ScienceMarch, we’re posting a series of small actions you can take this week to further invertebrate conservation. While you might be enamored with carpenter bees, spiders, and the American burying beetle – others might see these creatures as “pests” to be avoided, if they think of them at all. Bridging the gap Read more …
Obligate Mutualism Blooms in the Desert
Published on April 18, 2017
Tikaboo Valley, Nevada. Home of the Extraterrestrial Highway, the infamous black mailbox, UFO seekers, cattle ranchers, and desert wanderers. Nestled between three mountain ranges and notorious Area 51, Tikaboo is also home to those bizarre Mojave residents known as Joshua trees. These spiky, Dr. Seuss-like plants provide critical food, moisture, and refuge to an incredible Read more …
Science: Something Worth Marching For
Published on April 13, 2017
Science is the foundation of our work here at the Xerces Society. It underpins everything we do. From unraveling the intimate relationship between bees and flowers to understanding the lifecycle and habitat needs of rare stoneflies to working out why monarchs migrate to overwintering sites—and how they navigate there—the work of scientists has helped explain Read more …
Staff Story: The Tickle Bees of Sabin Elementary
Published on April 10, 2017
In the summer of 2009, my family and I moved into a house across from the Sabin Elementary School in Northeast Portland, Oregon. Our daughter started kindergarten at the school that fall. As other school parents learned of my work in pollinator conservation, they would occasionally ask me if I’d ever seen the “tickle bees.” Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Violets
Published on April 7, 2017
This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Common Blue Violet Viola sororia Violets are often bemoaned as “weeds” when found in lawns, and otherwise impugned for Read more …
Don’t spring into garden cleanup too soon!
Published on April 4, 2017
Spring is here. A time when warmer weather naturally turns a winter-weary homeowner’s thoughts towards tackling outdoor chores. The first warm weather of the season may coax us out into the yard, but pollinators in your garden aren’t ready to take a chance on the first warm day. Chrysalides still cling to last season’s dried Read more …
Write Your Rep! Less Mowing, More Monarchs
Published on March 31, 2017
We’ve made the case that roadsides can be managed for pollinators, while maintaining erosion control, keeping roads safe, improving water quality, and saving money! Now it’s time to make the case to lawmakers, so that they can change the way their state manages roadsides for multiple benefits, including helping bees, butterflies, and other insects. We’ve Read more …
Bring Back the Pollinators: 5 Ways to Increase Nesting Habitat for Native Bees
Published on March 17, 2017
Recent research suggests that pollinators do better in urban environments, yet these mowed, mulched, and managed landscapes frequently lack a sufficient amount of nesting habitat needed to support large numbers of bees. As wild bees move off ag lands and head for the cities and suburbs, they may struggle to find their “dream home” amongst Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Little Bluestem
Published on March 15, 2017
This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Little Bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium When most people plant a pollinator garden, they rarely think of native grasses, opting instead Read more …
Pollinator Conservation at 60 MPH
Published on March 12, 2017
This entry originally appeared in the January 2017 Committee on Transportation and Ecology Newsletter. Speeding down the freeway with the landscape flashing by, thoughts of pollinators may be limited to a brief glimpse of honey bee hives in an orchard, a bright patch of flowers beside the road, or an unfortunate butterfly tossed in the Read more …
Staff Stories: How I Stopped Worrying And Started Protecting Invertebrates
Published on March 10, 2017
Butterflies in their chrysalises and bumble bees in their burrows are waiting out winter—unaware of the activities of people as they wait to go about their business. They will mate. They will die. In the process, they will pollinate our foods and flowers. Freshwater mussels will keep our water clean, while spiders and beetles will Read more …
Rusty patched bumble bee deserves protection, not delay
Published on March 2, 2017
On February 10, 2017, the rusty patched bumble bee was slated to receive the federal protection it so clearly deserves. Unfortunately, the Executive Order signed by the president on Inauguration Day freezing all new regulations while the new administration reviews “questions of fact, law, and policy” has unnecessarily delayed the implementation of this rule until Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Pussy Willow
Published on March 1, 2017
This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Pussy Willow Salix discolor Pussy willow is much loved by florists and decorators eager to bring some of the natural Read more …
Picking Plants for Pollinators
Published on February 23, 2017
Since the publication of our book Attracting Native Pollinators in 2011, interest in pollinators and pollinator-friendly gardening has grown substantially. Through our Bring Back the Pollinators campaign and the release of two additional books, we’ve worked hard to put information and resources in the hands of eager citizens who are inspired to protect pollinators in Read more …
Help Researchers Track Milkweeds and Monarchs across the West
Published on February 16, 2017
Monarch researchers are trying to understand why monarch overwintering populations are declining in the West, and we need your help! Overwintering monarch populations have declined by 74% in coastal California and more than 80% in central Mexico since monitoring began about 20 years ago. Researchers in the eastern U.S. have identified loss of milkweed (the Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Wild Bergamot
This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa Wild bergamot is one of several plants also known by the common name of Read more …
Plants for Pollinators: Giant Hyssop
Published on February 11, 2017
This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Giant Blue Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Members of the mint family tend to be highly attractive to bees, and Read more …
2017 Monarch Numbers Are Down, Lengthening a Worrying Trend
Published on February 9, 2017
The number of monarch butterflies overwintering was down this winter in both coastal California and in Michoacán, Mexico, according to recent announcements by the Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count and World Wildlife Fund–Mexico. In California, the Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count reported a total of 298,464 monarchs—a fraction of the 1.2 million reported Read more …
The Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count at 20: A record volunteer effort, but disappointing butterfly numbers
Published on February 7, 2017
In the fall of 1997, a small group of dedicated monarch scientists and volunteers set out to count how many monarch butterflies were overwintering in California, an essential step in understanding and conserving this remarkable insect and its migration. Twenty years later, the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count (WMTC) is established as one of the longest Read more …
Planting for Pollinators – In Your Backyard and Beyond
Loss of habitat is one of the biggest issues contributing to the decline of pollinators. With the loss of prairies, forests, and other natural areas to development and agricultural use, pollinators are having a harder time finding the resources they need. While a backyard butterfly garden will never be a substitute for acres of prairie, Read more …
Western Monarch Conservation: A 40 Year History
Published on February 5, 2017
It was in 1976, at the World Congress of Entomology, held in Washington. D.C., when the North American migratory monarchs were named the number one priority in world butterfly conservation. The Mexican overwintering grounds had just been located the year before, one of the greatest natural history developments of the twentieth century, and a whole Read more …
Conservation Comes Home
Published on February 3, 2017
What you can do to defend invertebrates in your community If you are reading this, chances are you are aware of the many challenges facing invertebrates. Pollinators everywhere are suffering from loss of habitat and widespread use of pesticides. Monarchs have seen record population declines in recent years. Seven species of Hawaiian yellow faced bees Read more …
Producing Wildflower Seed in the Age of Superweeds
Published on January 24, 2017
“It’s disappointing to see this problem associated with conservation seed mixes.” That’s the response from a friend and native seed producer when I mentioned the news that Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri), a highly invasive noxious weed has now appeared in several states across the Midwest. The weed was possibly introduced outside of its native range Read more …
The 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year, and Other Milkweeds You Should Know
Published on January 23, 2017
Each year since 1990, the Perennial Plant Association has designated a “Perennial Plant of the Year.” The designation has become well known amongst growers, landscapers, gardeners, and others who eagerly await the announcement each year. Selection often launches the chosen plant into the mainstream, making it more widely available. While the association has often favored Read more …
Conservation Innovation Grant Studies Farming With Native Beneficial Insects
Published on January 13, 2017
Note: This article was written and published by the USDA NRCS. The original article may be downloaded here: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/PA_NRCSConsumption/download?cid=nrcseprd1288409&ext=pdf The Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. Read more …
Rusty Patched Bumble Bee: The First Bee in the Continental US to be Protected Under the Endangered Species Act
Published on January 11, 2017
In response to a petition from the Xerces Society, on Wednesday, January 11, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a final rule to list the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, making it the first bee in the continental U.S. to be federally protected. This Read more …
New Report: How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees
Published on December 14, 2016
The plight of pollinators has grabbed the public’s attention, helped by media stories of parasites, pesticide poisonings, and deserts of urban and agricultural lands where little to no forage can be found. Most experts agree that the startling declines of native bee and butterfly populations, as well as the high annual losses of managed honey Read more …
Western Freshwater Mussels: Unobtrusive, Invaluable—and on the Red List
Published on December 9, 2016
This week, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published the second update this year to the Red List of Threatened Species. The Red List is an important tool for biologists and policymakers because it highlights which species are at greatest risk of going extinct and can be used to set priorities for conservation. Read more …
To Save Monarchs, we need More than just Milkweed
Published on December 7, 2016
The message is out: Monarchs are in decline across North America. The loss of milkweed plants due to extensive herbicide use and changes in farming practices, such as the widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant crops, has been identified as a major contributing factor of monarch’s decline in the eastern U.S. Disease, climate change, widespread insecticide use, Read more …
$4 Million to Help Pollinator Habitat!
Published on December 1, 2016
On Wednesday, November 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and General Mills announced that they were together making a five-year, $4 million financial commitment to support the creation and protection of pollinator habitat on America’s farmlands. Thanks to this funding, the Xerces Society will add six pollinator conservation specialists, who will work jointly with the Read more …
Five lesser-known places to see monarchs overwintering in CA
Published on November 23, 2016
As the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count kicks into full swing, trained “monarch spotters” will be out and about documenting overwintering populations at hundreds of sites across California. While you may be familiar with the impressive monarch clusters, family-friendly amenities, and helpful docents at Pismo Beach, Pacific Grove, Natural Bridges, and Ardenwood Historic Farm there are many more places monarchs overwinter along the coast. Monarch enthusiasts at all levels can take pleasure in hunting down large collections of the colorful butterflies at some of these lesser-known overwintering sites.
Celebrating 20 years of the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count!
Published on November 11, 2016
As the days get shorter and monarchs make their way to the forested groves along the California coast to settle in for the winter, volunteers for the Xerces Society Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count are preparing to head out to observe and monitor this migratory phenomenon. This year is particularly exciting because it marks the 20th Read more …
Putting Mussels on Your Mind
Published on October 31, 2016
While marine life and pollinators are the focus of a lot of media and conservation attention, and deservedly so, freshwater mussels in the U.S. are also in trouble – in fact, they are amongst the most at-risk animals in the U.S. More than seventy percent of all species of North American freshwater mussels are considered Read more …
Russian explorers first to document monarch butterfly in California
Published on October 28, 2016
It’s October 2016. For a few weeks monarchs have been trickling in from all over the west and aggregating in groves along the California coast to settle in for the winter. Many people have regarded this event as an annual treat, looking forward to the return of the monarchs as surely as the swallows return Read more …
Put Down Those Pruners: Pollinators Need Your ‘Garden Garbage!’
Published on October 21, 2016
It should be welcome news for weary gardeners. You’ve weeded, tilled, and toiled under the hot sun all summer long, and now — it’s time to stop. For many, however, the temptation to pick, pluck, and prune the landscape to make it neat and tidy for the winter is too hard to ignore. This impulse Read more …
Celebrate Apples by Celebrating Their Pollinators!
Published on October 7, 2016
Cut an apple in half through the middle. What do you see? Do you notice a star-shaped cluster of seeds? Those seeds are the result of the hard work done by a tiny pollinator many months ago. If there are two seeds in each of the five points, the apple was completely pollinated, meaning enough Read more …
In a rapidly warming climate, imperiled species may have nowhere to run.
Published on September 30, 2016
The western glacier stonefly (Zapada glacier) takes the real estate mantra “location, location, location” seriously. In fact, their life depends on it. Making their home in the aquatic alpine ecosystem in the highest elevations of Glacier National Park, Montana, the species is uniquely adapted to thrive in the very cold, low-oxygen, nutrient poor environment provided Read more …
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes ESA protection for the rusty patched bumble bee
Published on September 21, 2016
In 2013 the Xerces Society petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as an endangered species. Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is proposing to list the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. This is Read more …
Pollinator Conservation in Agriculture
Published on September 9, 2016
Recently, conservationists have been discussing the role of agriculture in helping pollinators—and for good reason. About half of the U.S. land base is in agriculture. If we want to truly provide for a long-term future for pollinators, we must work with farmers. Farms come in all shapes and sizes, from small, family-run operations to vast Read more …
Scanning the Horizon for Pollinator Threats and Opportunities
Published on August 9, 2016
The global fate of pollinators rests firmly in the hands of Big Ag according to research published in the journal PeerJ, which identified the most serious future threats and opportunities facing pollinating species. A horizon scan of future threats and opportunities for pollinators and pollination was authored by an international team of scientists and conservationists Read more …
Two Rare Species Spotted During Minn. Bumble Bee Survey
Published on July 31, 2016
Known to Dakota people as Oheyawahi, “the hill much visited,” Pilot Knob Hill in Mendota Heights, MN, lived up to its name when citizen scientists and eager volunteers gathered recently on the hill to hunt for some rare Minnesota species. Sarah Foltz Jordan of the Xerces Society, Elaine Evans of the University of MN Bee Read more …
Moths are cool too!
Published on July 25, 2016
Given their muted colors, erroneous reputation as pests, and the nocturnal nature of many species, most people fail to take notice of moths — let alone celebrate them. Enter National Moth Week. NMW was started by moth-minded scientists and environmentalists in 2011 as a citizen science project celebrating moths and biodiversity. “Moth-ers” of all ages Read more …
2000 Mussels Cross the Road
As two culverts are replaced to improve fish passage in Crystal Springs Creek (Westmoreland Park, Portland, Ore.), 25 citizen-scientist volunteers and watershed specialists gathered to rescue freshwater mussels and relocate them upstream, out of the project area and out of harm’s way. Members of the Crystal Springs Partnership with guidance from the Xerces Society prepared Read more …
Monarch Butterflies in the Western United States
Published on July 20, 2016
The monarch butterfly has received a lot of attention in the last couple of years. Much of that has focused on the population that migrates through eastern North America, as far north as Ontario, and the problems facing the overwintering grounds in Mexico. Monarchs also breed in the western U.S. and research shows that they Read more …
Monarch & Milkweed Workshops Engage Public Land Managers in Western States
The Xerces Society recently held two workshops in Washington and Idaho to train regional land managers, including staff from state fish and wildlife agencies and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in surveying for monarchs and milkweed in western states and learning about conservation of the western monarch. The workshops are a part of Read more …
Monarchs Overwintering in Coastal California Show Steep Decline Since the Late 1990s
Published on July 8, 2016
A new report, State of the Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Sites in California, released by the Xerces Society shows that in less than two decades the number of monarchs which overwinter along the California coast declined by an alarming 74% . This significant loss of butterflies mirrors the troubling trend seen in monarchs in central Mexico Read more …
Curbing mosquito-borne illness requires strategic approach
Published on June 27, 2016
This year’s warm, wet spring seems to have brought with it more mosquitoes. With West Nile virus in Oregon and Zika slowly moving north, we have a window of opportunity to establish sound practices to manage the growing threat of mosquito-borne diseases. To wait invites an ill-conceived response that causes more harm than good. Though Read more …
Senator Merkley Unveils New Proposal to Help Restore Pollinator Populations Across the U.S.
Published on June 23, 2016
Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley has unveiled a new proposal to help restore pollinator populations across America. Released during National Pollinator Week, The Pollinator Recovery Act of 2016 discussion draft will provide the public and stakeholders with the opportunity to engage in the legislative process and comment on key policy provisions in the bill. Xerces Society Read more …
Bumble Bees and Baptisia: A Pollination Story
Published on June 21, 2016
Plants use many “tricks” to entice insects into the work of pollination. The shape, color, and bloom period of a plant’s flowers can greatly influence who their potential pollinator mate may be. Such is the case when considering the relationship between bumble bees and flowers in the genus Baptisia. There are two plants of the Read more …
Farm by Farm: 150 Pollinator Habitat Projects
Published on June 20, 2016
Ensuring that pollinators and other beneficial insects have safe, high-quality habitat has been the cornerstone of the Xerces Society’s Pollinator Conservation Program over the last two decades. Xerces has built a team of experts that work tirelessly toward this goal across a range of landscapes, including gardens, roadsides, parks, golf courses, and natural areas, but Read more …
Partnering for Pollinators
The Xerces Society works with many partners in pollinator conservation. These partners include local, state, and federal agencies; farmers; land managers; seed companies; other conservation groups; and volunteers. We’re thankful for the support of these partnerships which make large-scale pollinator conservation efforts possible. Below is a sampling of partnership projects from the past year. Port Read more …
Helping Monarch Conservation Take Flight
Published on June 16, 2016
The Xerces Society has been a proponent of monarch butterfly conservation for decades. In the early 1980s, Xerces founder Robert Michael Pyle and Lincoln Brower worked to list the monarch migration as an endangered phenomenon with the IUCN, and the Society’s first employee was hired to conserve California overwintering sites at that time. In the Read more …
The Value of Protecting Pollinators
Published on June 9, 2016
If you’re reading this, chances are you have at least a passing interest in protecting pollinators. Maybe you are motivated by Colony Collapse Disorder and its impact on honey bee populations. Maybe you’re a farmer who’s primary interest is in crop yields. Perhaps you’re a naturalist who is interested in the ecological benefits of pollinators. Read more …
Published on June 6, 2016
Pollinators bring us the wildflowers of spring, the berries of summer, the pumpkins we carve into jack-o’-lanterns in fall. Our dinner tables would be less enticing without them: approximately three-quarters of crop plant species need a bee or other pollinator, which translates to roughly one-third of the food and drink that we consume. More than Read more …
Xerces in Your Grocery Store: Working to Make the Food You Eat Better for Bees
Published on May 25, 2016
Over the past decade the Xerces Society has helped farmers contribute to the creation of over 250,000 acres of pollinator habitat nationwide (and to reduce pesticide use on those lands), but it has been challenging to track food produced on that cropland all the way to the plate. To better connect consumers with products that Read more …
Using Technology and Citizen Science to Understand Dragonfly Migration
Published on April 27, 2016
Given the wide geographic scope of dragonfly migration, citizen-science observations are critical to furthering knowledge of this remarkable behavior. Our understanding of the migration phenomenon in dragonflies has advanced as engagement in Migratory Dragonfly Partnership projects soar across North America. Now 1,000-strong, MDP’s volunteer network has helped reveal several insights into the behavior and seasonal Read more …
Citizen science is a wonderful thing
Published on April 21, 2016
There is much yet to be learned about insects and other invertebrates but simply not enough people observing their behavior and documenting their existence to be able to fill in the blanks of our knowledge. After all, there are tens of thousands of species to be found in each region of North America. By drawing Read more …
Island Marble Butterfly: Slipping Towards Extinction
Published on April 5, 2016
On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced that the island marble butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus) is in danger of extinction but that protection under the Endangered Species Act is “precluded by higher priority listing actions.” The Service declined to grant this butterfly protection through an emergency listing process, Read more …
Helping Pollinators on the Road to Survival
Published on March 30, 2016
On Monday, March 28, the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a memo regarding the pollinator provisions in section 1415 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, and announcing the release of “Pollinators and Roadsides: Best Management Practices for Managers and Decision Makers.” The report can be read on the FHWA web site, Read more …
DeWind Awards: Investing in the future of Lepidoptera conservation
Published on March 28, 2016
The Xerces Society began as a butterfly conservation organization—hence our name—and these beautiful animals remain at the heart of who we are. We work with farmers and park managers, gardeners and agency biologists to protect butterflies and other invertebrates and ensure they have a place to live. This work has always been rooted in science, drawing Read more …
Responding to Zika virus
Published on February 25, 2016
As a parent it is heart-wrenching to see the photos of children in Brazil that have been born with microcephaly, and it is very worrying to consider that the steep rise in this birth defect may be caused by a mosquito-borne disease. The cause of these birth defects is not fully understood but they are Read more …
Research Update: Are bee diseases linked to pesticides?
Published on February 16, 2016
The issue of pesticide impacts on bees is of key interest to many people. In time, we’ll also be gathering this information onto a page on our web site. The recently published article, Are bee diseases linked to pesticides?—A brief review (Sanchez-Bayo et al. 2016), infused valuable insights into the discussion about pollinator decline. The Read more …
5 Tips for Better Insect Photography
Published on February 8, 2016
As a natural history photographer who specializes in photographing insects and other small creatures, I sometimes wonder why everyone isn’t as obsessed with the little things in life as I am. When I peer through my camera’s viewfinder and look into the eyes of a jumping spider, or marvel at the amazing structure of a Read more …
Butterflies and Volunteers: The Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count
Published on February 4, 2016
The final results from the Xerces Society’s annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count have just been released, and the numbers are promising. Volunteers visited 187 sites this year and counted 271,924 monarchs, which is higher than last year. However, the average number of monarchs per site is not significantly different from last year, and this year’s Read more …
EPA’s Preliminary Risk Assessment for the Neonicotinoid Insecticide, Imidacloprid
Published on January 7, 2016
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a preliminary pollinator risk assessment for the neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, which shows a threat to some pollinators. The EPA’s assessment indicates that the highly toxic, long-lived neonicotinoid imidacloprid “potentially poses risk to hives when the pesticide comes in contact with certain crops that attract pollinators…” While we Read more …
Surprises in the Field: Discovering a New Population of a Bog-Associated Butterfly
Published on December 22, 2015
One of the greatest thrills of fieldwork is finding an unexpected or undescribed species at a field site. As a conservation biologist who studies invertebrates, I probably get more than my fair share of new encounters. The numbers are certainly in my favor: invertebrates make up over 90 percent of all known animal species on Read more …
A First Glimpse at the State of Western Monarchs
Published on December 14, 2015
Throughout this last summer, people from across the western United States were telling us about monarchs they had seen. Particularly notable were the reports from places where monarchs are not usually seen, including Oregon’s Willamette Valley and even here in Portland. Coming at a time when there is a renewed interest in this remarkable long-distance Read more …
The Crystal Skipper: North Carolina’s Newest Butterfly Species
Published on December 3, 2015
The beautiful beaches of the central North Carolina coast, known as the Crystal Coast in tourist brochures, are well known to beachgoers, birdwatchers, and shell hunters. Less well known is a small brown butterfly living amongst the sand dunes which, until last week, had no official name; it has now been formally described in the Read more …
The Value of Science
Published on December 1, 2015
Science is the foundation of our work here at the Xerces Society. It underpins everything we do. We undertake applied research to determine the extent of decline for bumble bees, freshwater mussels, butterflies, and many other invertebrates. We work with landowners and land management agencies to determine where at-risk species occur, so we can target Read more …