Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, on World Peace Wetland Prairie at 1121 S. Duncan Avenue in Town Branch neighborhood in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Please click on link to enlarge photo of Asclepias incarnata with insects on it.

Please click on link to ENLARGE image of large milkweed bugs on Asclepias incarnata

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tiny bugs on Asclepias incarnata

Please click on image to ENLARGE for closer view of tiny insects on swamp milkweed on World Peace Wetland Prairie on July 26, 2008.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Viceroy caterpillar eats willow leaf on World Peace Wetland Prairie in July 2008. Viceroy butterfly rests on fill dirt on Aspen Ridge in 2007

Please click on image to ENLARGE TO photo of viceroy butterfly caterpillar on willow leaf at World Peace Wetland Prairie in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Viceroys (Limenitis archippus) look much like monarchs but their reproduction depends on willows and other native trees for nutrition, while monarch caterpillars depend on the many species of milkweed.

Common name: Viceroy Butterfly
Genus/species: Limenitis archippus
Order/family: Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae

The upperside of the viceroy is orange and black, and looks a lot like the monarch butterfly, except the viceroy has a black line across the hindwing and a single row of white dots in the black band on the edges of their wings. Where monarchs are rare in Florida, Georgia, and the Southwest, viceroys are brown instead of orange and mimic the queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus). Because they look like bad tasting butterflies such as the monarch, they are often avoided by predators. Originally it was thought that viceroy butterflies did not have a bad taste to birds and other predators, but recent studies suggest that, like the monarch, this species is distasteful to birds. They have a wing span of 2 1/2 - 3 3/8 inches (6.3 - 8.6 cm) and are similar in size to the monarch.

Life history:
During most of the day, males perch on vegetation or patrol around the host plants to find females. Females lay eggs at the tip of host plant leaves, depositing only two or three eggs on a plant before moving to another. Caterpillars eat their eggshells after they hatch, then at night feed on catkins and leaves. Young caterpillars make a ball of leaf bits, dung, and silk which hangs off the leaf on which they are feeding. The dangling mass of caterpillar garbage may distract predators. Third-stage caterpillars make a shelter from a rolled leaf tip in which to spend the winter.

These butterflies hatch two to three broods from May-September in most of its range and continue to produce new generations all year in Florida.

Caterpillar hosts:
Viceroy caterpillars eat the leaves of trees in the willow family (Salicaceae) including willows (Salix), and poplars and cottonwoods (Populus).

Adult food:
Early in the season, when few flowers are available, viceroys feed on aphid honeydew, carrion, dung, and decaying fungi. Later generations feed more often at flowers, favoring composites including aster, goldenrod, joe-pye weed, shepherd's needle, and Canada thistle.

Viceroy butterflies need moist, open or shrubby areas such as lake and swamp edges, willow thickets, valley bottoms, wet meadows, and roadsides. This species is usually hard to catch because it likes to land in the upper branches of cottonwoods and other streamside trees.

Viceroy butterflies live from the Northwest Territories of Canada, south along the eastern edges of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains and into central Mexico. They can be found through all the eastern United States.

The Obsolete Viceroy (subspecies obsoleta) has lost much of its habitat due to land development and using large amounts of water for Southeastern cities.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank:- G5
This means that the viceroy butterfly is in no danger of being put on the Endangered Species List. Go to the The Nature Conservancy Global Ranking Scale to find out more about how endangered animals are classified.

Management needs: It would help these butterflies if we could restore riverside habitats in the southwest United States. We also need to do a better job of conserving the viceroy habitats that already exist.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tree frogs enjoy singing on wall 50 feet from World Peace Wetland Prairie. Their songs reverberate through the wall and please human inhabitants.

Please click on image to Enlarge photo of a couple of tree frogs hanging on a wall and hoping for rain at 10:30 p.m. July 25, 2008, singing for rain to fill a bucket near the wall where they can lay eggs. The same two (or an almost identical couople of frogs) have already produced tadpoles that now are showing legs in a nearby container of rain water. The nice thing about tadpoles in rainwater is that they consume mosquito larva!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Build a rain barrel, help reduce erosion in the watershed and water plants free

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of swamp milkweed on WPWP on Thursday morning.

Beaver Water District To Conduct Rain Barrel Building
Workshops July 26th at Fayetteville Farmers Market

For immediate release: July 15, 2008
Beaver Water District will conduct three rain barrel building workshops at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 26th, at the Fayetteville Farmer's Market on the downtown square in Fayetteville. Those participating will learn how to build a rain barrel and leave with step-by-step instructions. Additionally, barrels built that day will be given away in a drawing to those who attend. Rain barrels are a water conservation tool. Positioned under a gutter of a home, a rain barrel will capture runoff during rain events. Water may then be used to water the lawn and flowers. For more information, e-mail Amy Wilson, Director of Public Affairs for Beaver Water District at awilson@bwdh2o.org.
Audubon Arkansas also will be on the Fayetteville Square that day with a stream table conducting demonstrations showing how erosion occurs in a watershed setting and how this impacts the watershed and receiving streams and lakes. Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Beaver Water District’ s mission is to serve our customers in the Benton and Washington County area by providing high quality drinking water that meets or exceeds all federal and state regulatory requirements in such quantities as meets their demands and is economically priced consistent with our quality standards. For more information, visit www.bwdh2o.org.

Amy L. Wilson, Director of Public Affairs
Beaver Water District, P.O. Box 400, Lowell, AR 72745
awilson@bwdh2o.org; 479-756-3651

“Anyone who can solve the problems of water will be worthy of two Nobel prizes – one for peace and one for science.” -- John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Asclepias incarnata, also known as swamp milkweed, on WPWP

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of swamp milkweed on south end of World Peace Wetland Prairie.

Flox and Cosmos among important plants on which butterflies depend

Please click on image to ENLARGE July 11, 2008, photos from World Peace Wetland Prairie.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Basketflowers just keep getting better (Centaurea americana)

PLEASE click on image to ENLARGE photo of American basketflower made on July 14, 2008.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Government protection of wetland pathetic

EPA Enforcement Is Faulted
Agency Official Cites Narrow Reading of Clean Water Act
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 8, 2008; A06
An official administration guidance document on wetland policy is undermining enforcement of the Clean Water Act, said a March 4 memo written by the Environmental Protection Agency's chief enforcement officer.
The memo by Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance, was obtained by the advocacy group Greenpeace and released yesterday by two House Democratic committee chairmen. It highlights the confusion that has afflicted federal wetland protections since a 2006 Supreme Court decision.
That 5 to 4 decision, known as Rapanos v. United States, held that the Army Corps of Engineers had exceeded its authority when it denied two Michigan developers permits to build on wetland, but the court split on where the Corps should have drawn the line on what areas deserve protection.
A plurality made of up Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. proposed an across-the-board reduction in the Corps' regulatory role, but Justice Anthony M. Kennedy -- who cast the deciding vote -- called for a case-by-case approach in deciding how the government should proceed. That left the ruling open to interpretation.
In his memo to Benjamin Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for water, Nakayama wrote that the document the agency issued in June 2007 to guide regulators' decisions under the Rapanos decision is having "a significant impact on enforcement." Nakayama and his staff concluded that between July 2006 and December 2007, EPA's regional offices had decided not to pursue potential Clean Water Act violations in 304 cases "because of jurisdictional uncertainty."
Much of the controversy centers on what sort of waterway and accompanying wetland should qualify for protection. The administration's guidance instructs federal officials to focus on the "relevant reach" of a tributary, which translates into a single segment of a stream. In the memo, Nakayama argued that this definition "isolates the small tributary" and "ignores longstanding scientific ecosystem and watershed protection principles critical to meeting the goals" of the Clean Water Act.
Chairmen Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee and James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent a letter yesterday to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson saying they have "grave concerns" about the way the agency is implementing the Clean Water Act.
The two noted that Nakayama concluded that in all, the Supreme Court decision and the subsequent guidance document "negatively affected approximately 500 enforcement cases" in nine months. They also questioned why EPA's Grumbles did not raise the issue when he testified before Oberstar's panel less than three months ago.
"This sudden reduction in enforcement activity will undermine the implementation of the Clean Water Act and adversely affect EPA's responsibility to protect the nation's waters," the congressmen wrote. "Yet instead of sounding the alarm about EPA's enforcement problems, the agency's public statements have minimized the impact of the Rapanos decision."
In response to a question about the congressional inquiry, EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said in an e-mail: "We will be reviewing the new request and will work with the chairmen to provide information on our enforcement program."
Eric Schaeffer, who used to head EPA's civil enforcement division and now heads the Environmental Integrity Project, an advocacy group, called Nakayama's memo "very significant. It lays out very clearly why you can't enforce one of the most important parts of the Clean Water Act."
EPA officials are not the only ones growing frustrated with the confusing legal interpretations of the Rapanos decision. Robert B. Propst, a senior judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division, wrote in a Nov. 7, 2007, decision that he was reassigning a wetland case "to another judge for trial. At least one of the reasons is that I am so perplexed by the way the law applicable to this case has developed that it would be inappropriate for me to try it again."
© 2008 The Washington Post Company
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Turkey-foot grass among the tall-grass prairie species on World Peace Wetland Prairie

Please click on images to ENLARGE photos of big bluestem grass on World Peace Wetland Prairie on July 7, 2008. While big bluestem was native to the prairies around Fayetteville, Arkansas, these photos feature examples of Andropogon gerardii transplanted on WPWP a couple of years ago by Dr. Chuck West, a grass specialist at the University of Arkansas.

Up close, you can see the intriguing two flower parts: yellow hanging bits (male), and fuzzy bits (female)

Turkey-foot grass, or Big bluestem is part of the Poaceae (Grass) family. The flowering stalks average 3 to 6 feet tall but occasionally grow up to 9 feet tall. The flowers are usually in 3 dense, elongate clusters from a common point that resembles a turkey foot.
This plant grows in moist or dry open places and is a major constitutent of the tall-grass prairie. It can form extensive turfs and is used as a major forage and

Please click on image to Enlarge photos of big bluestem grass on World Peace Wetland

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July is buttonbush month in Northwest Arkansas wetland areas and along streams and ditches

PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE PHOTO of Buttonbush inflorescence on World Peace Wetland Prairie on June 2, 2008.

I have been asked why I discourage people from using radical clearing methods on wetland prairies, especially small parcels and urban parcels such as World Peace Wetland Prairie.
One of the main reasons is that some prairie and wetland native species need to grow tall and strong and not be cut bank or burned off if they are to reach their full potential.
The buttonbush is among the easiest to identify in this category at this time of year. The buttonbush is a sure marker of wetland when found growing in the wild. Its value to many species of wildlife is well-documented. And it is among the better native species for protecting riparian zones of streams from eroding.

Read what Texas A&M's Aquaplant Website has to say about the amazing buttonbush.

Plant Identification


Description Management Options Other Photos

Cephalanthus occidentalis
Buttonbush is a woody shrub (3-10 feet tall) that occasionally grows into a small tree and can be found above water or in water up to 4 feet deep. It has shiny dark-green spear-or egg-shaped pointed leaves 3 to 6 inches long. The leaves are opposite or whorled in 3's or 4's along the stem. Flowers of buttonbush are easily identified by their greenish-white tube flowers in dense ball-shaped clusters about 1 inch in diameter. Seed heads are brown.
Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc. ). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called "detritus") for many aquatic invertebrates. Buttonbush seeds are occasionally eaten by ducks but the bush itself is used for nesting by many bird species.

Emergent Plant Index
Alligator Weed
American Lotus
Banana Lily (Floating Heart)
Blue Flag
Bull Tongue
Common Reed
Cow Lily (Spatterdock)
Dollar Bonnet (Water Shield)
Floating Heart (Banana Lily)
Fragrant Water Lily (White Water Lily)
Giant Reed
Lizard's Tail
Mexican Water Lily (Yellow Water Lily) Pickerelweed
Smartweed (Water Pepper)
Soft Rush
Southern Watergrass
Spatterdock (Cow Lily)
Spike Rush
Water Pennywort
Water Pepper (Smartweed)
Water Primrose
Water Shield (Dollar Bonnet)
White Water Lily (Fragrant Water Lily)
Yellow Water Lily (Mexican Water Lily)
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