PLENTY SUMMER 2020 | Page 23

found that artificial lights dropped meadow flower visits of more than 300 different species by more than 62 percent! These insects spent more time being drawn to the lights, than they did foraging in the flowers. This resulted in fewer fruits and seeds, and therefore fewer plants. Fewer plants mean less wildlife. Less wildlife negatively affects soil composition and water quality, and the ecosystem on the whole suffers. Though light pollution in the Ag Res is less pronounced than it is down county, it carries a subtle, but far greater economic threat due to its proven negative impact on crop production. Longtime residents in the Reserve know the importance of keeping the night sky dark, but newer residents often bring city habits with them and keep outdoor lights on all night, unwittingly degrading the health of the Ag Res even more. Despite the decline of the wild pollinator population, the show must go on, and farmers nationwide have placed the success of their crops in the hands of domesticated honeybees. By maintaining hives, beekeepers work with honeybees to supplement what the diminishing wild pollinator population could never achieve. Their impressive foraging range and seasonal productivity make massive US food production possible. And it is hardly a secret that without pollinators, our food chain would be in very real danger of collapse. Unfortunately, domesticated honeybees are facing profound survival threats as well. Despite the attentive care of beekeepers, the average hive loss per winter locally can be anywhere from 40 to Photo: Joe Long Bee-Saving Top Ten 10) Turn off your lights. Leave city ways in the city, so rural areas can remain rural! Replace floodlights with motion sensor lights, and save a host of moths and bats and other night time critters from deadly distraction. 5) 4) cover for many species over the cold months. Leave dead trees where they are, so bats, birds and bees have essential shelter. Plant early flowering trees, such as Cherries, Black Locust, 9) Plant wildflowers in your garden, such as: Butterfly Milkweed, Purple Coneflower, Seaside Goldenrod, Wild Indigo, Blue Lobelia, Coreopsis, White Clover, Parsley and Dill in your yard. Redbuds, Native Crab Apple, and Tulip Poplars. The Reforest Montgomery Program has coupons for native trees at local nurseries, and can save you a bundle! 8) Cut your lawn high, at least 3.5”, allowing natural clover to bloom for pollinators. 3) Avoid chemical pesticide use. If you have to use pesticides, use them properly! 7) Don’t fear or eradicate dandelions! They are one of the critical early sources of pollen in the spring and the leaves feed caterpillars (baby butterflies and moths). 2) Allow part of your yard to revert to wild cover and woods for habitat. Naturalizing will save you considerable money and time! Gone are the days of the eco-decimating 1950’s lawns. 6) Allow dormant and dead plants to stand over winter. The mess you see is an essential 1) Support your farmers and orchardists in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve!