Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Minnesota Will Pay Residents to Create Bee Friendly Lawns

Popular
Minnesota Will Pay Residents to Create Bee Friendly Lawns
Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.


Minnesota's state budget celebrated pollinators last month by crowning the endangered rusty-patched bumblebee the state bee. And, to protect the plump pollinator, the state earmarked $900,000 dollars for bee-friendly spaces, according to Atlas Obscura.

From that money, the state government will pay the gardening bill for residents who are willing to turn their lawn into bee-friendly spaces, by planting flowers known to attract bees, like creeping thyme, self-heal and dutch white clover.


"When people look at these flowers, they see a nuisance, they see a weed. I see a forage for pollinators," said James Woflin, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota's Bee Lab, as CBS Minnesota reports.

While the flowers of these plants will attract all bees, the state is particularly interested in the rusty-patched bumblebee, a fat and fuzzy bee that pollinates apples and tomatoes. The new state bee has faced years of declining populations and is on the brink of extinction while making a last stand in Upper Midwest cities, according to Atlas Obscura.

The state's Board of Water and Soil Resources will reimburse homeowners 75-90 percent of the cost for converting a lawn to bee-friendly plants and to have a yard with a diverse set of flowers, shrubs and trees, Star Tribune said. It will cover up 90 percent of the cost in areas with a high potential to support rusty-patched bees.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a guide for gardeners looking to plant flowers that will attract the rusty-patched bumblebee. The guide encourages people to plant anemones and wild lupine, bee balm and purple prairie clover, and goldenrod and New England aster for consistent blooms through the growing season that will entice pollinators throughout spring, summer and fall, Atlas Obscura reported.

"I have gotten a ton of e-mails and so much feedback from people who are interested in this," said State Rep. Kelly Morrison who introduced the bill, as the Star Tribune reported. "People are really thinking about how they can help."

The legislature had proposed additional measures to aid pollinators, but they fell short. Language to ban neonicotinoid pesticides — a popular pesticide used on lawns, gardens and crops that play a role in declining bee populations — in state wildlife management areas was removed from the state budget, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

Lawns of bare grass may be great for playing catch, but they are not attractive to pollinators. They also stress the environment since they need to be mowed and fertilized. They also drink a lot of water and demand a soaking even in the midst of drought and water shortages, as Atlas Obscura reported.

"A pound of Dutch white clover is about $7 and it grows low enough that people wouldn't even have to change the way they mow their lawn," Wolfin said to the Star Tribune. "So just by not treating white clover like a weed and letting it grow in a yard provides a really powerful resource for nearly 20 percent of the bee species in the state." He added that roughly 55 of the state's roughly 350 species of bees have been spotted eating Dutch white clover alone.

When people start to convert their lawns, the bees will thrive. "We think that abundant and diverse floral resources will translate to larger and healthier rusty patched bumblebee colonies," said Tamara Smith, a biologist at the FWS's Twin Cities field office, as Atlas Obscura reported.

Eating too much black licorice can be toxic. Nat Aggiato / Pixabay

By Bill Sullivan

Black licorice may look and taste like an innocent treat, but this candy has a dark side. On Sept. 23, 2020, it was reported that black licorice was the culprit in the death of a 54-year-old man in Massachusetts. How could this be? Overdosing on licorice sounds more like a twisted tale than a plausible fact.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sustainable t-shirts by Allbirds are made from a new, low-carbon material that uses a mineral extract from discarded snow crab shells. Jerry Buttles / Allbirds

In the age of consumption, sustainability innovations can help shift cultural habits and protect dwindling natural resources. Improvements in source materials, product durability and end-of-life disposal procedures can create consumer products that are better for the Earth throughout their lifecycles. Three recent advancements hope to make a difference.

Read More Show Less

Trending

There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils will point you in the right direction.

Read More Show Less
A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

Financial institutions in New York state will now have to consider the climate-related risks of their planning strategies. Ramy Majouji / WikiMedia Commons

By Brett Wilkins

Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch