July 26, 2021

Eric Douglas: Helping the little critters: hummingbirds, bees and butterflies

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By Eric Douglas From Kanawha Metro

I know it seems like spring is refusing to come, or at least stay for any length of time, but the hummingbirds and the butterflies are already well into their migrations.

Last week, I put out my hummingbird feeders. A website on bird migrations says hummingbirds are already in West Virginia. I haven’t seen any yet, but I want them to have food when they arrive.

The same is true for butterflies. I’ve seen a few small ones, but the monarchs aren’t here yet. I saw a news story recently that because of the loss of their habitat, monarch butterflies are struggling. Officials recommend planting milkweed (and my local gardener recommends butterfly weed). As soon as it is available, there will be some in my back yard.

“Milkweed is the only plant on which monarch butterflies will lay their eggs, and it is the primary food source for monarch caterpillars. Despite its necessity to the species, the plant decreased 21 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2013. Scientists, conservationists and butterfly enthusiasts are encouraging people to grow the plant in their own yards and gardens,” according to an article in National Geographic.

Did you know monarch butterflies migrate from central Mexico to North America every year? They don’t seem substantial enough to do that, but they do it anyway. It takes several generations for the trip north, but in the fall, one generation lives eight months and makes the entire 3,000-mile journey back to their winter destination.

To take care of the bees, I put out some wildflower seeds in an area of the yard that isn’t heavily used. They are big fans of the flowering bushes we have in the meantime. This year I will probably get a special hive that leaf cutter bees can use, too.

Too many of us are disconnected with nature. We don’t spend any time outside, so we don’t realize how the Earth is changing. To me, it’s important to do little things like feeding butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. These critters help pollinate plants and, without them, there would be no food. If that were the only reason to take care of them, that should be enough.

On another level, though, they are entertaining to watch, and relaxing, too. If you can’t sit outside and marvel at a hummingbird or smile when a butterfly flits past, you need to rethink your priorities. And check your stress level and blood pressure.

Helping them probably does more for me in the long run.

Eric Douglas, of Pinch, is the author of “Return to Cayman,” “Heart of the Maya,” “Cayman Cowboys,” “River Town” and other novels. He is also a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a former Charleston Newspapers Metro staff writer. For more information, visit www.booksbyeric.com
or contact him at [email protected]

IMAGE:
Eric Douglas took this photo of butterfly in his backyard

For more on this story go to: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/metrokanawha/eric-douglas-helping-the-little-critters-hummingbirds-bees-and-butterflies/article_8af81d00-8e0e-57e3-b910-b3c51cf38b44.html

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