Backyard Boo Boos

You’re a nature lover. Your heart is in the right place, but sometimes even the best intentions can have harmful effects. Consider these corrective measures to avoid unintended consequences on species you wish to help.

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Photo by Cengland0, Wikimedia Commons

BY LUIS CASTILLO

 

Problem: Neonicotinoid pesticides and the birds and the bees.

Neonicotinoids (neonics) are popular pesticides because of their low toxicity levels
to humans and other vertebrates as well as their effectiveness against insects. Unfortunately
that also includes the good guys, like bees, which are nature’s pollinators. Neonics, a class
of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine, are now a suspected link to colony collapse
disorder and the rapid decline of bees. They can harm our feathered friends as well when
runoff from neonicotinoid pesticides gets absorbed into soil and coats the seeds that they
eat. If the label has acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid (to name a few) as
an active ingredient, it’s a neonic.

Solution: Stop using neonics and other pesticides in your yard.

Don’t worry about perfect looking plants. Allow dandelions and clover in your yard, bees love it. Bees also thrive on lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary, honey suckle, marigolds, salvia and many other flowering plants. Support organic products made without pesticides.

 

Problem: Monarch Butterflies and milkweed.

Monarch butterfly and bumble bee on Swamp milkeed,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife

People plant non-native Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) to help feed monarch butterfly caterpillars. Harm is caused when the non-native milkweed doesn’t die back in the winter like native milkweed does. Monarchs then don’t migrate like they’re supposed to and stay in Florida for the winter. This can lead to disease and unhealthy monarch populations.

 

Solution: Go native.

Consult with your gardening center and plant Florida native milkweeds like butterfly weed, swamp, white and green. If you have tropical milkweed you can cut it back or bring it inside when the butterflies in your region should be migrating.

Problem: Ducks and bread.

White bread is junk food to ducks and other birds; it provides zero nutritional value.
Angel wing disease caused by malnutrition is becoming a problem in urban waterfowl.

Solution: Just say no to the processed dough.

Chopped fruit and veggies, berries, cracked corn and raw seeds are much healthier
alternatives.

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