Journal archives for September 2023

September 01, 2023

September Update and Events

Hello Everyone!

Happy September, I hope everyone had a great summer!

Our last Pollinator Walk of 2023 will be held on Saturday September 9, 2023 from 12:00pm-1:30pm at Dale Hodges / Bowmont Park. Register for the event here.
We will have a small end of summer celebration with coffee and donuts to thank all of you who have come out to participate in community science this summer. Please let us know if you can make it. I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many cool people this summer and cannot thank you enough for supporting my passion project and research.

I know there are quite a few new members that have joined us over the summer so I wanted to take a second to reintroduce myself. My name is Justine, I am a masters student studying at the University of Calgary. My project focuses on how plant-pollinator interactions are affected by urbanization and pollinator preferences for native or non-native plants. I am also looking into the benefits of community science; more to come on that in October!

As you know, each month I have draw a prize winner for members of the project that contribute observations during the month. Our August prize winner is @alacringa , congratulations!

August 2023 Stats
Observations made: 745
Research grade identifications: 356
New members joined: 16
We are at a total of 9,555 observations. Only 445 to go until 10,000!

Posted on September 01, 2023 05:58 PM by jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 05, 2023

Plant of the Month: Goldenrod (Solidago)

Solidago, commonly known as goldenrod, is a genus of perennial plant in the daisy family (Asteraceae). The genus name ‘Solidago’ is derived from Latin and means “to heal or make whole” which is reflecting its use as a traditional herbal medicine. Goldenrod flowers and leaves can be dried or used fresh to make tea. The flowers are also edible and can be used as garnishes. Leaves are edible and spinach like and can be used in the same manner. Goldenrod is often used as a supplement for improving urinary health as well as reducing inflammation of the body.

The most common species of goldenrod native to and found in Alberta include Giant Goldenrod (S. gigantea), Missouri Goldenrod (S. missouriensis), Sticky Goldenrod (S. simplex), Alpine Goldenrod (S. multiradiata), and Elegant Goldenrod (S. lepida; previously S. canadensis - split into two new genera). The shape of the flower plumes, leaf shapes, hairiness, and flowering time vary between species. However, they can look quite similar, so when in doubt, just identify it as “Solidago.” All goldenrods have clusters of many small yellow daisy-like flowers at or near the top of their stem. Around Calgary, you will find goldenrod blooming from late July through September. Goldenrods are great native plants that support many pollinators.

Some goldenrod species, commonly S. gigantea, are parasitized by the goldenrod gall fly, Eurosta solidaginis. The larvae will eat the inner parts of the stem and secrete a chemical that triggers the plant to form a gall. The larvae will continue to eat the inner soft layer of the gall, overwinter in the gall, and then emerge as an adult in the late spring.

goldenrod goldenrod goldenrod

Posted on September 05, 2023 03:37 PM by jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 25, 2023

Pollinator of the Month: Skippers (Ochlodes)

Ochlodes, commonly known as skippers, is a genus in the butterfly family of skippers (Hesperiidae). They are named after their distinct flight pattern which consists of quick darting motions that bar resemblance to a skipping motion. There are 300 species of skippers native to Canada, and are distributed through every province and territory. Currently, there are 27 recognized species native to Alberta. One of the most common native species is the Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides). The European skipper (Thymelicus lineola) is classified as invasive to Alberta.

Skippers are found in a variety of habitats which include grasslands, prairies, open woodland, meadows, and anywhere else open grasses and flowers are present. Skippers feed on the nectar of a variety of flowers, facilitating pollination and reproduction of plants.

Adult skippers have stubby moth-like bodies, hook tipped antennae, and wings the same length as the body. Skipper wings are commonly orange, red, or brown in colour, and vary in patterning. The forewings are triangular shaped, and the hindwings are rounded. Some species have their wings spread, where others keep their hindwings in a more erect position so that they sit higher and more pronounced than the hindwings. Their eyes are large for their body size. The wingspan is typically 2.5-3.5 cm.

Male skippers will spend their time by patrolling an area for females, or they will simply perch and wait for a female to be nearby. After mating, the female skipper will lay her stringy eggs on a host plant that are commonly either broad leaf trees or bushes, or grasses. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae (caterpillars) will then feast on the leaves of the host plant. Young caterpillars can fall prey to lacewings, ants, and wasps. Most larvae will spin themselves into the leaves with silk to better protect themselves from the elements and predators while they gather enough energy to pupate. The caterpillars enter a state of inactivity (called diapause) in the winter, and regain activity in the spring and continue to feed and moult until they pupate. The adults emerge from their cocoons in the summer and begin to feed on nectar from a variety of flowers and will mate to produce a new generation.

brown and orange skipper butterfly on yellow flower brown and orange skipper butterfly on purple flower

Posted on September 25, 2023 02:17 PM by jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comments | Leave a comment