Despite a snow-covered ground and chilly temperatures, ISN staff are hard at work preparing for the upcoming field season - including planning workbees, coordinating potential treatments, and soon, hiring new survey technicians. There is no rest for the weary when it comes to combating invasive species.
ISN is also excited to announce the launch of its new website. The address remains unchanged but the look is entirely different. We hope this new set-up, combined with the ability to search the site, will allow for a better understanding of the work ISN does and provide more clear answers to your questions. As always, you can still contact us directly or report any invasive species to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN).
Read on below for event dates, highlights from the world of invasive species, and news about the expansion of Go Beyond Beauty. We look forward to working with you in 2017!
The ISN field crew has been spending the summer working on several projects for various partners. They’ve assisted in garlic mustard removal in all four counties, surveyed for invasives in Leelanau, treated invasive thistles in Grand Traverse, and removed Oriental bittersweet in Manistee. Last week, they spent time in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with The Nature Conservancy, digging up or spraying baby’s breath and other dune invaders.
The crew spent hours removing the tough plants from 4 acres at the Sleeping Bear Dunes plateau, then moved to Empire Bluffs for another 2 acres of digging. They traveled south to Arcadia Dunes to remove 20 acres of baby’s breath and invasive bladder campion that could be seeded from or seeding into those more northern populations. Herbicide came into play at Zetterburg Preserve, where the crew and others treated 11 acres of baby’s breath. Finally, 25 acres of invasive spotted knapweed was controlled using herbicide in a fallow field near some fragile dunes. Herbicide is a “necessary evil” in invasive plant control efforts; some areas are just too thickly covered by invasive plants for mechanical removal to make sense (and some plants aren’t controlled well by it). In fact, pulling invasive plants like spotted knapweed in heavily-infested areas stirs up the “seed bank” in the soil, bringing seeds that have been resting to the surface–in some cases sprouting several plants in place of the one you just pulled!
A total of 62 acres protected in just 4 days! And controlling knapweed in those 25 acres of fallow field, before they can move into our valued dune systems and negatively impact their unique inhabitants, is just as important. What’s the old adage? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Keep up the great work, crew and partners!
Did you know that October and November are among the best of times to plant native seed mixes to expand habitat for wildlife?
Home is a great place for habitat.
It is a joy to walk outside and discover birds, butterflies, and other wildlife just outside the front door, and it’s good for the health and well-being of children to have the opportunity for independent play and discovery in nature. So how do you get started?
Put simply, your goal should be more land with more native plant diversity.
Most all flowering plants sustain pollinators to some degree, however native plants also sustain more insects that feed on plants. Those insects in turn feed most other living creatures.
The more native plants you have, the more insects you’ll have. The greater diversity of native plants you have, the more cool, unique insects you might find. Part of why many plants introduced from elsewhere in the world become invasive is because we did not import the insects that eat them, and so they are less constrained in their growth. The National Wildlife Federation offers additional tips for improving habitat quality at home, as well as a certification program.
So all that matters is that I use plants from Michigan?
Well, not exactly, but native to Michigan is a good starting point. To understand the complexity, consider planting one native cardinal flower in the middle of Detroit, miles away from any other similar plant. What are the odds that any insect will find this lone plant, especially with all the obstacles of traffic and buildings in the way? Look around you at your nearby native plant communities, and explore whether you can plant a community at home that reflects and connects with neighboring communities. Even if you live in the city, you may be lucky enough to have natural corridors like streams or rivers that connect your backyard to nearby natural areas. For the long-term, you might explore whether your neighbors have an interest in creating habitat in their own yards to help build connections, or whether your community might have an interest in modern development techniques that expand habitat connectivity.
Great! I’m ready to plant.
Ten Steps to a Successful Planting
Our friends at the Michigan Wildflower Farm offer ten easy steps to prepare your site for an October/November planting. Remember when purchasing your seed mix to buy from a nursery that does not include invasive plants in the seed mix (watch out especially for baby’s breath and dames rocket). Look for seed that was harvested from plants growing as close to your planting site as possible. Check with the nurseries that have committed not to sell high-priority invasive plants as a part of the Go Beyond Beauty program.
Subscribe to ISN's monthly enewsletter