What are those webs on the trees?

By Nellie Brown

Eastern tent caterpillar on leaf

Eastern tent caterpillar. Photo from Univ. of KY

At this time of year, as the trees are leafing out, insects that feed on them are showing up as well. One of these is the eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum).

The adult moth is rarely seen, but the larval caterpillars create webs in the limb crotches of the trees on which they are feeding – close to or on the trunk. Usually these trees are in the rose family, including but not limited to cherries, plums, crabapples, hawthorns, apples, peaches, and pears.

When the insect population on a tree becomes large, it can significantly defoliate the tree and create large, unsightly webs. Most healthy trees quickly re-grow their leaves, but weak and unhealthy trees will be stressed by these insect pests.

Continue reading

May meeting minutes


May 2014 meeting

Photo by Dave Tylka

Sue and Andy Leahy’s suburban native yard, which includes two water features, has attracted abundant wildlife. On May 7, it also attracted 53 Wild Ones members and guests.

The Leahy’s landscaping adventure started five years ago with a butterfly garden that immediately attracted butterflies. Sue quickly learned that the native plants outperformed non-natives. She took Dave Tylka’s Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People class at St. Louis Community College at Meramec to learn much more. Now she helps other residents as a Habitat Advisor for Bring Conservation Home. This Audubon Society habitat assistance and certification program includes advice on site-specific native plants, water conservation and other stewardship practices that promote healthy habitat for birds, native wildlife and people.

Continue reading

Polar Vortex vs EAB – follow-up

By Nellie Brown

One of the comments on my earlier post about possible effects of our recent winter on Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) stated:

“A recent study in Minnesota exposed emerald ash borer larvae to extremely cold temperatures, and they died. However, the larvae in this experiment were exposed to the extreme cold without any gradual acclimatization.”

This is factually incorrect. Insects in the study were winter-acclimated and we know that the bark provides about 1°C of a buffer from air temperature at night. Some news agencies somehow start reported that the insects weren’t acclimated and somehow that rumor has persisted. I’d suggest reading the study:


Continue reading

Monarch butterfly mystery

By Kathy Bildner

This female Monarch was very busy jumping from unopened flower to flower. I thought she was looking for nectar but was not succeeding so moved on quickly. Looking closer, I saw the eggs.

I have never seen them put the eggs on a flower. Usually it is underneath a leaf. Anybody ever seen this behavior before?

Note: Click the thumbnails to see larger images.

Naturescaping Open House June 8

Flyer for open house June 8, 2014

Click for details

By Betty Struckhoff

If you enjoy the informal learning opportunities of Wild Ones meetings, you will probably like the Naturescaping Open House sponsored by St. Louis Audubon’s Bring Conservation Home program.

There will be knowledgeable volunteers throughout the half-acre native yard of Susan and Kei Pang in Richmond Heights. One highlight is the recently-completed rain garden, along with scores of other native plantings.

Date: Sunday, June 8, 2014
Time: 1:00 to 5:00 PM
Location: 115 Lake Forest Dr, 63117; map

The open house is free and open to the public. Donations to St. Louis Audubon will be accepted. Click the flyer for details or view more images of the Pangs’ beautiful yard.

hope you can make it!

New web resource for rainscaping

By Betty Struckhoff

Rain Garden logo with frog and lilypadThe St. Louis area has incredible resources for native landscapers. A new addition promises to help all of us enhance our landscapes, attract wildlife, support the ecosystem and improve the water quality in our streams.

Garden layout sketch

Sample garden layout

ShowMeRainGardens contains tips and interactive tools to help you plan, design and install your rain garden. Want to know what kinds of natives will do well in shade?  Just put those criteria into the Plant Selector and up come photos and scientific names of plants from which to choose.

Need help with design and layout? Check out the templates of gardens or the photo galleries submitted by people who have installed rain gardens.

ShowMeRainGardens was created by the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District, local governments, conservation agencies and others. For more information, click on the frog!

St. Louis Earth Day Festival in Forest Park

By Peggy Whetzel and Fran Glass

Mitch Leachman, Executive Director of the Audubon Society, talks with visitors at the 2014 Earth Day booth

Mitch Leachman uses a barred owl to talk about the importance of native plants

Kids were excited to spot the stuffed barred owl that served as an ambassador to the booth shared by Wild Ones and the St. Louis Audubon Society at the 2014 St. Louis Earth Day Festival in Forest Park on April 27. With visions of Hogwarts likely dancing in their heads, the kids stopped by the booth to find out more, bringing their parents with them. For their part, the parents and other visitors were attracted to the black chokeberry bushes and other native plants blooming outside the booth.

Visitors were not disappointed. Mitch Leachman, Executive Director of the St. Louis Audubon Society, used his repertoire of wildlife facts and lore to bring the message home, “Without a variety of native plants to feed our native insects, our butterflies and wild bird populations will dwindle and disappear, including monarchs and owls.”

Continue reading

St. Louis City introduces ‘Milkweeds for Monarchs’ initiative

According to a recent press release from Mayor Francis Slay’s office, the City of St. Louis, as part of a national campaign to save the threatened monarch butterfly, is spearheading an initiative to help grow the monarch population.

Solitary monarch butterfly on a tree trunk in MexicoHow? Plant milkweed. Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed, and the caterpillars only eat milkweed. When these host plants are scarce, so are butterflies.

On Earth Day, April 22, the mayor was joined by Jim Miller of Missouri Botanical Garden, Ed Spevak of the Saint Louis Zoo, and Tracy Boaz of the Missouri Department of Conservation, for a ceremonial first planting at the Brightside St. Louis Demonstration Garden, 4646 Shenandoah Ave., the site of a Wild Ones meeting last year.

Continue reading

April meeting minutes


Wild Ones at the April 2014 yard tourTwenty-six Wild Ones members and seven guests attended the April yard tour and meeting at Marsha Gebhardt’s Ferguson residence. Marsha has new plantings in the front yard, designed and installed last fall by Simon and Monica Barker. Simon attended our meeting to talk about the project and answer questions. Outdoors he talked about designing on the site, which was a blank slate except for one mature tree. Marsha had hoped for members to give ideas for landscaping the back yard. However after all the wet weather, it was decided we not walk through the back yard.

Indoors, Marsha had prepared a PowerPoint presentation showing photos of the planting, list of plants and plant diagram. However, due to the large number of attendees, she circulated copies of the plant list instead. Simon answered more questions about the planting design.

Continue reading

A magical moment in our woodland

By Margy Terpstra

Prothonotary warbler, photo by Margy Terpstra

Click for a larger image

Wednesday, April 30, 2014, was a raw day, overcast and barely 55 degrees. The dawn chorus, however, was loud and clear. So, I was at my camera. Suddenly, a stunning bird with a bright yellow head and blue wings landed in a small American elm in our woodland. It took my breath away.

I had gotten quick looks at Prothonotary Warblers here before, but this beautiful male stayed, foraging in all the small trees at eye level. He worked his way over to our bubbler and investigated a curled leaf in a Blackhaw. He skillfully inserted his beak, pulled out a caterpillar and made quick work of his meal. I was so fortunate in that moment to record it. I also came to the realization that every effort we had made over the last 18 years had led to that moment.

Our woodland was once filled with invasive bush honeysuckle. Now beneath the oaks, it has layers of native rough-leaf dogwoods, chokeberry, gooseberry, spicebush, pawpaw, ferns, celandine poppies, wild ginger, Mayapple and Virginia bluebells. The birds, butterflies, and other creatures find sustenance. So do I.

Read the full story and see more photos on our blog.


Editor’s note: Read more about Margy, and her and Dan’s backyard.