Xerces Blog Archive


Monarch flying over showy milkweed, Oregon

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.


Willapa Bay Oyster Beds

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.


Swallowtail butterfly

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).


Adonis Blue Butterfly

Ups and Downs of English Chalk Grasslands

Published on November 1, 2018

This piece originally appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of Xerces’ biannual publication Wings. Click to view the full Spring 2018 issue. “Lack of concentration inhibits standard and rate of work.” Schoolteachers in Britain didn’t mince their words in 1970—or at least mine didn’t! In my defense, they shouldn’t have had a geology map on Read more …


Aster

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.


Viceroy and Red-spotted Purple hybrid, Limenitis archippus archippus X

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!


Funastrum cynanchoides

Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – October 2018

Published on October 23, 2018

Select updates from our team of restoration ecologists, entomologists, plant ecologists, and researchers.


Cuyahoga River Fire

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.


Western Bumble Bee

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.


Apples

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.


Firefly jar

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.


Rachel Carson

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.


Squash bee (Xenoglossa)

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 …


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

Published on

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

Published on

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

We’ve been the grateful beneficiaries of some fantastic fundraising efforts over the years, from lemonade stands to an art show organized by a high school student. Now, social media has made it easy for anyone to create a fundraiser for their favorite nonprofit group in just a few clicks. As we reach the time of Read more …


Autumn Pollinators in Oklahoma

Published on

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 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

Published on

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 …