Xerces Blog Archive


Doubling Your Dollars: How to Host a Facebook Fundraiser on Giving Tuesday

Published on November 14, 2017

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving created in response to the consumer holidays of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year it is November 28th, 2017. Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are matching up to $2 million of funds raised that day on Facebook for U.S. nonprofits. Facebook is also Read more …


Autumn Pollinators in Oklahoma

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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

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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

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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

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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 Protects 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

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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 …


ARS USDA image gallery

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

Published on

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

Published on

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 …


Western Glacier Stonefly, Photo: USGS

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

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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

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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 …