Journal archives for April 2024

April 03, 2024

April 2024 Announcements

Hello Everyone!

Spring is here and all of our lovely pollinators will bee out and about soon! 🐝🪲🐞

I am excited to announce that our first community pollinator walk of 2024 will be at Nose Hill Park on Sunday April 28 from 1:00-2:30pm. ☀️ You can register for the walk here.

You can also find more information about upcoming events and other community science projects on the new Community Science page on the University of Calgary Biodiversity website. I would also encourage you to check out the Rare Plants of Alberta Project. - Rare Plants of Alberta iNaturalist page

I would like to say thank you again for the amazing turn out at pollinator walks last year and to everyone who participated in the community science survey! We had such a great turn out and so much positive feedback that we would like to continue them this summer! However, we would like to ask for your help hosting the walks! I am looking for a few lovely volunteers who would be willing to help lead groups on the pollinator walks. You don’t have to commit to hosting all of them, even helping with just one or two events would be greatly appreciated!

The good news is I have recently accepted a reclamation biology position with Jacobs! The bad news is that because I will be traveling a large part of the summer to do field work, I cannot guarantee I will be around to host all the pollinator walks on my own. Please reach out if you would be interested in helping host events this summer. Send an email to

I hope to see you at Nose Hill at the end of the month! A reminder that April 26-29 is also the annual City Nature Challenge! CNC iNaturalist page

Warm regards,

Posted on April 03, 2024 10:33 PM by jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 10, 2024

Plant of the Month: Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) belong to the aster family (Asteraceae). The name dandelion means lion’s tooth, which likely refers to its jagged leaves. The scientific name of the Taraxacum officinale means “the official remedy for disorders” or “of pharmaceutical value”. This reflects the fact that dandelions have been cultivated in gardens for food, as nearly all parts of this plant can be eaten, and medicine since the mid-1600s.

The common dandelion originated in Eurasia. They spread rapidly after the last ice age due to glaciers retreating leaving bare land to be colonized. They are now naturalized in all parts of the Northern Hemisphere, and can grow in almost any soil and climate. They are especially good at colonizing disturbed habitats, such as lawns, roadsides, and fields.

Dandelions are short-lived perennials. Their leaves are green and may be entire or lobed. The leaves are arranged in a rosette around the stem. The stem is hollow and produces a bitter white latex that deters animals from eating it and can help clog up any wounds a dandelion incurs. A bright yellow flower sits atop the stem and they bloom very early in the spring. These flowers are actually composed of numerous ray and disc flowers.

Dandelion flowers reflect ultraviolet light, which attracts insects, including bees, who feed on the pollen and nectar. They are an important nectar source early in the season as they are one of the first flowers to emerge in the spring when there are few other flowers in bloom.

Although dandelions are great for early season pollinators they can also produce seeds without pollination. Through a process known as apomixis, the female portions of the flower produce seeds on their own, which leads to genetically identical offspring. Each plant can produce 1000-2000 seeds per year. The seeds have tufts of hair that are carried by the wind with tiny fruits attached to the end. Dandelions can also reproduce from pieces of taproot that can grow new plants if they are broken off and dispersed.

The horned or fleshy dandelion (Taraxacum ceratophorum) is a native dandelion that grows in Alberta. Differentiating a horned dandelion from a common dandelion can be difficult, however one difference they exhibit is in their involucral bracts (modified leaves present at the base of the flower). For the horned dandelion, the inner bracts have hardened or calloused tips.

Horned dandelion

Common dandelion
Involucral bracts of a common dandelion

Posted on April 10, 2024 02:57 AM by kiarra13 kiarra13 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 23, 2024

Pollinator of the Month: Texas Striped Sweat Bee (Agapostemon texanus)

Texas striped sweat bee is scientifically referred to as Agapostemon texanus. The genus name Agapostemon means stamen loving, which has Greek origins and refers to their need to forage pollen. The species name texanus refers to Texas, as this type of specimen has been found there. They belong within the sweat bee family ( Halictidae). This family consists of small, non-aggressive bees with short tongues. Sweat bees are also attracted to sweat, hence their name, which allows them to obtain minerals and moisture.

Texas striped sweat bee is easily recognizable by its green metallic coloration. This is a structural colour, which is caused by light reflecting based off of structure rather than producing pigments. The females have an entire body that is brilliant blue-green, while the males have a head and thorax that are brilliant blue-green and an abdomen that is brownish black with yellow bands. The males are also smaller than the females, measuring 9-10 mm in length compared to 11 mm for the females. Due to the short tongues of the Texas striped sweat bee they have a more limited ability to access nectar from deep flowers. However, it is considered a generalist forager, visiting a wide range of flowers, including as aster, cerasus, fragaria, geranium, prunus, rubus, senecio, amorpha, brauneria, cassia, cephalanthus, cirsium, coreopsis, helianthus, lepachys, petalostemon, pycnanthemum, rhus, verbena and veronica.

The Texas striped sweat bee ranges from southern Canada to central Costa Rica, but it is most commonly found in the western coast of the United States. At its northern range females have been observed from May through October and males from July through October. Two generations of the Texas striped sweat bee are produced per year. In the fall fertilized females overwinter in their nests while males typically die. In the spring the fertilized females emerge; build a nest underground in bare, loamy soil; lay their eggs in brood chambers; provide pollen provisions for their eggs, then die. The eggs hatch after 5 weeks and the larvae mature after 30-35 days. This generation is mostly females as they emerged from fertilized eggs. To fix the skewed sex ratio these females lay unfertilized haploid eggs that develop into males. During the summer months the male and female Texas striped sweat bees mate. Then the cycle repeats.

side view green iridescent bee resting on a yellow and white flower

top view of a texas striped sweat bee on a yellow flower

Posted on April 23, 2024 04:59 PM by kiarra13 kiarra13 | 0 comments | Leave a comment