How can responsible land stewards teach people how much more complex and sophisticated the designs found in Nature are compared to our own ?
|Kew Royal Bontanic Gardens - Rhizotron Tree Museum|
|(Project grade 11)|
|Image - Bio-Rad|
|Animation - Mother Earth News|
Braconid Wasp -- Caterpillar
|Image - Julie Johnsen|
|Image - Marc Kummel (San Marcos Pass - Oct 2016)|
Here is a mating pair of tiny "parasitic wasps" (Hymenoptera) on a new
flower of California Fuschia (Epilobium canum aka Zauschneria californica)
in the Onagraceae plant family.
|Image - Pete Veilleux (2008)|
One of my native favourites for attracting beneficial insects is California Coffeeberry (Rhamnus [or Frangula - whatever] californica). Favourite cultivars are "eve Case" or "Mound San Bruno." In my personal experience, from a shrub satandpoint, this is the earliest bloomer of all the native california shrubs and mostly it goes unnoticed. Why ? Well, look below.
|Image - Greg a. Monroe|
Flowers of California Coffeeberry are admittedly not the most showy as compared to other well known popular garden variety flowers. So how does a parent or teacher instill appreciation for something considered, perhaps, even ugly (by flawed human standards) ? I've never considered these flowers ugly, just sort of neutral from an outward appearance standpoint. Humans by nature judge almost entirely by outward appearances first. They do this to each other starting as kids in school. But the teacher and parent has to counter this by demonstrating the Coffeeberry flower's main virtues. Unseen to us, these flowers manufacture a potent powerful cologne or perfume that only insects can sense. It's a pity that back in the late 1980s, I didn't document this more with photography.
|image - Brian Marlow|
|Image- Town Mouse & Country Mouse|
I've created this link above to an article I finished yesterday which further illuminates California Coffeeberry's insect magnet attracting abilities.. I've taken time to research as many beneficial insect photographs as possible linked to California Coffeeberry. I've also included some research being done by researchers from California State Berkerley's Kremen Lab Group on the potential for pest control by beneficial insects on a commercial farming scale by the creation of California Chaparral Hedgerows along all farm fields. Much like the one in the photo below.
|Image - University of California - Agricultural Division & Natural Resources|
This post and information above should go along well with the latest research news below on using biodiversity as an insect pest control. Children and all youth in general need to understand just how successful Nature has been for 10s of 1000s of years prior to humans coming along. Biomimicry should be considered a normal scientific pursuit. The articifical industrial conventional way of practicing agriculture with it's chemicals and genetic engineering should be the view as it truly is, abnormal. None of this junk was ever needed in the first place. Kids need to understand that and will with parent's and teacher's guidance.
BioDiversity as a Natural Pesticide
“Farm fields can create monocultures where pests may find the perfect nutrition to be healthy and reproduce,” said Wetzel, who conducted the research during his doctoral work at the University of California, Davis. “Planting fields with higher plant nutrient variability could contribute to sustainable pest control.”
Rather than my further elaborating on this subject at length, these two links below should be enough to get you started. Then in your mind's eye, simplfy the language to a point where a child would understand the biodiversity concept. It may be a challenge for you as most adults globally are often unaware themselves. If the majority were aware, our planet would look totally different.Teaching kids these days is always easiest with video animation. Seriously, since I was a kid in the 1960s, cartoons and animated films shown at elementary school always captured my attention. So such animated video instructive technology can and should be used when teaching kids about the importance of biodiversity over the ecologically failed choice mankind's failed leadership has been mandating for over the past 50 years. Take a look below.
Actually photographs are yet another venue to provide good teaching points and should also be used. I've written about these Chaparral Hedgerow and Biodiverse pollinator/predator strategies previously in these three posts below. This first one deals with the reasons why planting a biodiverse flower presence is so important to honey bee health. All plants create different types of pollen with unique chemical properties. These differing pollens are used by specialized nurse bees in the hive who apparently have a built sense of what pollen medicine to feed the sick worker bees with specific illnesses. Can kids really comprehend such scientific findings ? Absolutely, if you make the right real world illustrative comparisons that we humans can relate to:
This next link deals with actual planning, designs and construction of Chaparral Hedgerows along California's agricultural fields to provide habitat living quarters and variety of important food sources for pollinators/predators which would act an an important insurance policy against crop pests. The potential here is for greatly reduced or total elimination of synthetic (or so-called Organic) chemical pesticides. Could kids really grasp this reality ? Absolutely, especially with the beautiful colour photographs provided by the Xerces Society:
|Image - Xerces Society|
|Image - Xerces Society|
Aside from planting a diverse variety of native shrubs & wildflowers, here is a project parents or teachers can do with kids.
(This kind of stuff gets burned into young memories)
|photo credit - Donald C. Drife (2016)|
June 20-26, 2016 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Our yard is pollinator friendly. We use no insecticides. We provide plants that produce pollen and attract pollinators to our vegetable garden.
This year, we put up a bee hotel now called the “Buzz Inn.” Our plans came from a helpful guide, Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers and Conservationists, SARE Handbook 11, NRAES-186 by Eric Mader, Marla Spivak, and Elaine Evans.
Donald C. Drife
Michigan Nature Guy's Blog: National Pollinator Week
"No one will protect what they don't care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced."
David Attenborough, conservationist
One final teaching point from your friendly neighbourhood Home Depot
|Image - Susan Harris of Garden Rant|
Home Depot front door display as you enter Garden Center
If you aren't teaching and illustrating at a hands on level with your children, then someone else will. The photograph above was take by Master Gardener author, Susan Harris, from the journal Garden Rant. The visual teaching going on here is their marketing strategy for indoctrinating their customers that for a beautiful successful garden, you need synthetic Chemical weed and insect killers to eliminate Nature's flaws. Here is what Susan Harris wrote about Home Depot's front entrance killer chemical display:
"The other day I walked into the Home Depot near me and noticed this enticement to enter the gardening part of the store – Kill, kill, kill those plants and bugs! Not a plant in sight but plenty of plant-killers. And this photo hardly conveys the impressive array of killing products extending as far as the eye could see."
Pollinators - Beneficial Insects - Native Plants
University of Minnesota: Scholars team up to show forest biodiversity is green in more ways than one