“Toads come on it’s spring!”


Spring has sprung across most of the USA  now and flowers are everywhere. My roses abound after the freeze gave them a rest this winter in the Tucson desert. So much beauty and so little time in the desert to enjoy spring.

Time to invite those frogs and toads to the party of insects beginning to emerge in and around your garden. In Tucson generally we see lots of Colorado river toad around monsoon time in the summer, but where it is cooler frogs and toads will be heard croaking through the spring and  summer into the fall.

Happy spring everyone. Remember to plant those flowers that the pollinators love to visit like the herbs, flowers, and flowering trees and bushes.

Gardening with the family helps the whole family and the planet.

Video courtesy of  youtube.com and  Cindy Hoffman of Defenders of Wildlife

Toads just love to eat plant-destroying insects, making them a great addition for any garden. In this video, Defenders’ Cindy Hoffman demonstrates how to attract these amazing amphibians to YOUR backyard.

Image courtesy of   http://bit.ly/gZJxPP

“Big defense = less growth”


A plant has a hard life
Often  attacked by a gobs of insects, birds and mammals. They have to develop an effective defense – spines, thorns, prickly leaf hairs or an arsenal of toxic chemical substances to fits the occasion.  A plant has to do what a plant has to do to make it in a cruel world.

What cost does the plant pay for having to put its energy into elaborate defense mechanisms?

Ecologists and plant biologists of the University of Zurich together with their American colleagues have now found out the price plants must pay for defending themselves.

Researchers used mutants of the same genotype of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and harvested a group of these plants at regular intervals to measure the amount of growth over the  plant’s life.

“Mutants with suppressed defense mechanisms showed an increased growth rate, but the faster growth the faster the aphids population reproduced. On the slow growing plants with intact defense mechanisms the  aphid population grow normally.

Natural resistance is often not compatible with fast growth. This finding is of great importance for agricultural crops: These crops have been selected for high yield and as a consequence have very low natural resistance to herbivores, consequentially requiring high input of insecticides.

“Growing crops more naturally is more conducive to healthier pest resistant plants and nutritious crops.” - Mother Nature

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of  http://bit.ly/ihjtsP

Image courtesy of   http://bit.ly/gzAmQN

“Kids have bee project paper accepted by Royal Society”


Valid scientific research is being done by 8 to 10 year olds in london, England. To boot, a hand written elementary school science project has made it into a peer-reviewed journal from Britain’s prestigious Royal Society. The scientific organization, more than three centuries old and includes some of the world’s most eminent scientists, said the children research findings were a advance” in the field of insect color and pattern vision.
Biology Letters published a report Wednesday . The students investigated the way bumblebees see colors and patterns.Working with a neuroscientist from University College London, the children carefully documented their methodology and discussed the data they collected.
The group learned to trained bumbleees Bombus terrestris, buff-tailed bumble-bee to go to targets of different colors by giving them a sugar reward, and reported that the insects are able to learn and remember cues based on color and pattern.
The study successfully went through peer review — although its presentation was slightly unconventional.
“Scientists do experiments on monkeys, because they are similar to man, but bees could actually be close to man too,” the introduction read. The report was peppered with other amusing phrasing and diagrams drawn in colored pencil.
Scientists who commented on the kids’ report in the journal say although the experiments were modest and lacked statistical analyses, they were cleverly and correctly designed and hold their own compared to those conducted by highly trained specialists.
Laurence Maloney and Natalie Hempel wrote in commentary alongside the children’s report.
Beau Lotto, the scientist who coordinated the study, said she hoped the project could inspire people to approach science in a way that’s creative and fun.
“We like bees. Science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before,” the children concluded.

Bombus terrestris, the Buff-tailed Bumblebee or Large Earth Bumblebee is one of the most numerous bumblebee species in Europe. The queen is 2–2.7 cm long, while the workers are 1½–2 cm. The workers are characterized by their white-ended abdomens and look (apart from their yellowish bands being darker in direct comparison). The queen has a buff-white abdomen (“tail”) tip.
Resources

Excerpts courtesy of   http://yhoo.it/fDdBlg

Excerpts courtesy of  http://bit.ly/dHb7g9

Image courtesy of   http://bit.ly/ig0msw

“The bug whisperer needs your help today”


Reverence It made its goal of raising $50,000 by 10/30/10   Very good news!

Reverence is a project that brings together film, music and photographs of insects in a migratory museum — a temporary structure inspired by the exquisite shape of praying mantis ootheca, or eggpod. It’s called Reverence because that is the state in which I photograph and that is what I want to communicate through my work.  

BACKGROUND

For ten years, I worked on a personal project in the brothels of Calcutta. I photographed the women, taught their children photography, helped get them into schools, made the Academy award-winning documentary, Born into Brothels, and started a non-profit organization, Kids with Cameras. For me, art is powerful; it changes lives.

Seven years ago, I began to have intense dreams of a praying mantis. Though I have always had a very strong connection to the animal world, I had no idea what this was about. I began to pay attention to the synchronicities and clues and soon enough I was following the path that Mantis had set for me.

I was led around the world, mostly camping alone in spectacular wild places — from Namibia to Botswana, to Panama, to Malaysia, to Bolivia, to Australia. I met and learned from people who hold Mantis sacred, from the bushmen elder healers of the Kalahari, to modern-day shamans and martial artists. I discovered that Mantis offers great lessons.

THE WORK

I learned how to use macro-photographic equipment, bought a pile of black and white film and began traveling. Working at night, I walk into the forest or grasslands in search of insects. Sometimes I set up lights and see who shows up. The bugs never fail to amaze me.

I ask if they want their portraits taken and if they agree, I bring them inside my tent (or cabin or camper van). I stay up all night, working for hours with each bug, making still photos and shooting HD video. Afterwards, I thank them and put them back where I found them. It is a true collaboration based on love and respect.

THE PROJECT

Reverence is a migratory museum with photographs, film and music. Reverence explores the alien or other and our intrinsic connection with the insect world. Opening December 21, 2012, in New York City, it will continue to travel to other cities around the world.

WHAT’S NEXT?

The next stage of the project is to begin work with the architect to create a concept design for the museum. A world-renowned architect is charging his minimum fee: $50,000. I am also ready to start working with a master printmaker to develop unique large-scale photographs on handmade Japanese papers.

And I need to get back into the field – to Southern Africa and to Malaysia — to continue photographing and filming these unique and wonderful creatures.

WE NEED YOUR HELP…

This project has been mostly self-funded and now I need your help and support. I want to bring people face to face with insects, to confront their fears and prejudices and to challenge them to see the world in new way. Reverence will transmit the sense of awe I feel in their presence.

In gratitude, I will keep you posted on the project’s progress, my travels and all the wonderful creatures I meet along the way. Please contact me directly if you would like to support Reverence through its production and travels, or if you would like to receive a tax-deduction for your contribution.

My work is a tribute to insects, to their intelligence, personality and elegant beauty. Please help honor the small beings who really run the planet and on whom our lives depend. Help me to bring their message to you.

May Mantis watch over you.

– Zana Briski, October 2010  Zana

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About this project

Reverence is a project that brings together film, music and photographs of insects in a migratory museum — a temporary structure inspired by the exquisite shape of praying mantis ootheca, or eggpod. It’s called Reverence because that is the state in which I photograph and that is what I want to communicate through my work.

BACKGROUND

For ten years, I worked on a personal project in the brothels of Calcutta. I photographed the women, taught their children photography, helped get them into schools, made the Academy award-winning documentary, Born into Brothels, and started a non-profit organization, Kids with Cameras. For me, art is powerful; it changes lives.

Seven years ago, I began to have intense dreams of a praying mantis. Though I have always had a very strong connection to the animal world, I had no idea what this was about. I began to pay attention to the synchronicities and clues and soon enough I was following the path that Mantis had set for me.

I was led around the world, mostly camping alone in spectacular wild places — from Namibia to Botswana, to Panama, to Malaysia, to Bolivia, to Australia. I met and learned from people who hold Mantis sacred, from the bushmen elder healers of the Kalahari, to modern-day shamans and martial artists. I discovered that Mantis offers great lessons.

THE WORK

I learned how to use macro-photographic equipment, bought a pile of black and white film and began traveling. Working at night, I walk into the forest or grasslands in search of insects. Sometimes I set up lights and see who shows up. The bugs never fail to amaze me. Check out the video clip.

I ask if they want their portraits taken and if they agree, I bring them inside my tent (or cabin or camper van). I stay up all night, working for hours with each bug, making still photos and shooting HD video. Afterwards, I thank them and put them back where I found them. It is a true collaboration based on love and respect.

THE PROJECT

Reverence is a migratory museum with photographs, film and music. Reverence explores the alien or other and our intrinsic connection with the insect world. Opening December 21, 2012, in New York City, it will continue to travel to other cities around the world.

WHAT’S NEXT?

The next stage of the project is to begin work with the architect to create a concept design for the museum. A world-renowned architect is charging his minimum fee: $50,000. I am also ready to start working with a master printmaker to develop unique large-scale photographs on handmade Japanese papers.

And I need to get back into the field — to Southern Africa and to Malaysia — to continue photographing and filming these unique and wonderful creatures.
WE NEED YOUR HELP…

This project has been mostly self-funded and now I need your help and support. I want to bring people face to face with insects, to confront their fears and prejudices and to challenge them to see the world in new way. Reverence will transmit the sense of awe I feel in their presence.

In gratitude, I will keep you posted on the project’s progress, my travels and all the wonderful creatures I meet along the way. Please contact me directly if you would like to support Reverence through its production and travels, or if you would like to receive a tax-deduction for your contribution.

My work is a tribute to insects, to their intelligence, personality and elegant beauty. Please help honor the small beings who really run the planet and on whom our lives depend. Help me to bring their message to you.

May Mantis watch over you.      Check out the video clip.

– Zana Briski, October 2010
Project location: New York, NY

or simply learn more

$1 Minimum Pledge

Receive exclusive updates about the project.

Backer 31 BACKERs

A signed buggy postcard of an original photograph by Zana and exclusive updates about the project.

Backer 29 BACKERs

A little book of bugs and a signed buggy postcard of an original photograph by Zana and exclusive updates about the project.

Backer 31 BACKERs

A signed Kids with Cameras book, a signed Born into Brothels DVD and all of the above.

Backer 39 BACKERs

A signed limited collectors’ edition of my photography book, Brothel, and all of the above.

Backer 6 BACKERs

Two VIP tickets to Reverence’s opening night (it will be well worth the wait!) plus all of the above.

Backer 5 BACKERs

A gorgeous unique 25 x 37 inch Iris bug print of your choice on handmade Japanese gampi paper, two VIP tickets to Reverence’s opening night, plus all of the above.

Backer 1 BACKER

A gorgeous unique 25 x 37 inch Iris bug print of your choice on handmade Japanese gampi paper, two VIP tickets to Reverence’s opening night, plus dinner at the restaurant of your choice in New York, Los Angeles, Johannesburg, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur or any other city I happen to be passing through on my way to find bugs. And especially good karma and blessings from Mantis!

Backer 1 BACKER

Project By

Alienmantis

zana briski

Straightpin New York, NY

I am a photographer, filmmaker, animal lover and bug whisperer. I made the Academy award-winning documentary, Born into Brothels, and founded the non-profit organization, Kids with Cameras.

Project location: New York, NY

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of    http://bit.ly/crf3Yv

Image courtesy of    http://bit.ly/9LmBLD

“Help cool Mother Nature with your garden plants + trees this year!”


Cool our climate by planting a garden this year.

Use garden tools and products that decrease your carbon foot print:
1. Weed, prune and rake leaves by hand
2. Use an electric or push lawn mower.
3. Use home made/organic compost and natural pest-control methods.
4. Avoid peat, using compost or peat-free potting and seed-starting mixes instead.

Plant trees and shrubs that fit your climate zone :
1. Plant trees and shrubs that have a long life span and plant them on the east, west or south side of their home.
2. Position new trees where they will shade your home in summer or provide protection from winter winds.

3. Trees help beautify the community, shade buildings to conserve energy thereby reducing carbon emissions resulting from energy production.

4. Trees provide habitat for wildlife and  trap air pollutants.

5. Trees control stormwater runoff.

6. Trees block soil erosion.

7. Trees transpire moisture from their leaves which absorbs heat and helps cool air temperatures at the hottest times of year and reduces the urban heat island effect.

8. Plant trees and plants that fit your hardiness zone. Check with the beautification council in your city for trees best for your area. Avoid trees that are susceptible to insect infestations.

Compost-recycle yard clippings and food waste ( not meat, dessert or processed food scraps.
* Make compost bin to reduce heat-trapping methane emissions from landfills.
* Use compost in the garden to increase carbon sequestering in the soil.

Green up your lawn.
* After mowing the grass on your lawn by leaving the grass clippings to fertilize the soil, reducing the need for added fertilizer and increasing carbon storage.
* Minimize watering, which has been linked to increased emissions of heat-trapping nitrous oxide from lawns.
Install a drip system and harvest your rain and grey water for garden use.

Encourage climate-friendly organic farms in your area.
* Support farmers who adopt climate-friendly agricultural practices such as cover cropping and crop rotation and who reduce their use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides.
Buy local climate friendly organic produce.

Help cool Mother Nature with your garden this year!


To show your support for Climate-Friendly Gardens 
click here

Resources
Excerpts
courtesy of   thepetitionsite.com/takeaction

Image 1. courtesy of  http://bit.ly/chapyX

Video courtesy of  YOUTUBE.com

Image 2. courtesy of  peocom.com/tree.gif

Map courtesy of  accuracyproject.org/PlantZoneMap.jpg

“Good News AFF gives Helena National Forest gift of new life”


There is good news  to share.

American Forest Foundation (AFF) gave the Helena National Forest recently received $26,000 to reforest more than 500 acres in the Big Belt Mountains and near Stemple Pass.Healthy forests are an endangered species these days so this help is greatly appreciated.

Lodgepole pine seedlings

Tree planting will target the burned areas by Maudlow-Toston and Cave Gulch burnt during the 2000 fire season. More than 40,000 acres of trees in these areas were destroyed.
“The Helena Forest, will acquire 170,000 Douglas fir and lodgepole pine seedlings from the grant money received from the American Forest Foundation will be added to the Helena Forest’s funding to expand its efforts for 2010 to areas that are generally harsh sites where natural regeneration has been unsuccessful.

Douglas fir seedling bring hope

When these trees grow they will provide watershed restoration, cover for wildlife habitat and natural beauty forest visitors and carbon sequestering for the planet.

Planting will begin in the Sulphur Bar and Blacktail areas off of the Deep Creek Highway, but closed to the public.

“Thanks AFF for continuing to help Mother Nature along.” -Nature’s Crusaders and Mother Nature

For more information about the American Forest Foundation grant or Helena National Forest tree planting efforts, contact forest silviculturist Amanda Milburn at 449-5201.

Resources
Excerpts
courtesy of   helenair.com
Excerpts courtesy of

Image (lodgepine) courtesy of  nps.gov/fire/postfiresuccession.jpg
Image (Douglas fir) courtesy of  bordenmemorialforest.com

“To be with the bee or starve”


During an average winter in the US, ten percent of the honey bee population is lost in the winter . This year thirty there is thirty to 50 percent loss.

To be with the bee or starve that is the question.

Likely the increased use of pesticides seems to be a major cause.
One beekeeper who brings his bees to pollinated farmers crops has said, “I don’t put my bees in Florida, because the last couple of years there has been tremendous increase in pesticide use in the orange crop to fight a disease”.
The orange growers believe that the only way to control the bacterium infesting their fruit crops control is to use pesticide.

After dealing with the problem this way for  a few years now the crops are plagued by disease. Until a few years ago they never used any pesticide. Using a symptomatic approach has just made the problem worse and is killing off the bees brought in to  pollinate their crops.

Research conducted in 23 US states and Canada and published in the Public Library of Science journal found 121 different pesticides in 887 samples of bees, wax, pollen and other elements of hives, lending credibility to the thought that pesticides may be key to the problem.

Jeff Pettis, lead researcher at Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. said the finding of pesticide residue is “troubling.”
Leaving more natural areas in agriculture and in cities so honey bees can have a diverse natural environment can help stabilize the bees numbers.
When agriculture went from feeding people locally to feeding the world theuse of pesticides increased and the bee populations began their decline.. If bee populations are destroyed, crop production will dramatically be cut and starvation will rise.

You can help turn the tide for all the pollinators:

bees, wasps, and other insects

  • Use no thing but natural pesticides when necessary away from pollination times.
  • Grow crops organically.
  • Buy local produce.
  • Decrease the use of plastics and recycle.
  • Use your car less to decrease pollution.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of http://bit.ly/9PPRI5

“Saving our creatures-One fluttering inch at a times”


Only about an inch (2.5 centimeters) across its wings, The critically endangered Palos Verdes Blue butterflies are flying again over California thanks to several small groups of dedicated scientists and volunteers.
This beautiful little blue butterfly is native to the  LA coastal dune areas. It nearly went into oblivion from man  eliminating its habitat for housing projects.  The male has a bright silvery-blue dorsal wing outlined in a narrow line of black, while the female’s dorsal wing is a more brownish-gray color. Both males and females have gray ventral(under) wings with dark spots surrounded by white rings.
Eighty endangered Palos Verdes Blue butterflies, each bred in captivity, took flight for the first

California locoweed

time. It’s a step toward saving the insect from extinction by installing and maintaining coastal sage scrub habitat  The Urban Wildlands Group, a nonprofit organization and Moorpark College.

Another success story created by The UWG for another California critically endangered butterfly that lived on the dunes around the Santa Monica beach areas. Researchers knew this butterfly lived its entire live on one plant. They replaced the nonnative African ice plants on the dunes with the native Lotus scoparius, deerweed, for the reintroduction of the El Segundo Blue butterfly. Much to their surprise the supposedly extinct butterfly returned on its own.

Thanks to The Urban Wildlands Group for saving this species, restoring its habitat, and providing a shining example of ways we can restore ecological in urban areas.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of http://www.urbanwildlands.org/esb.html

Excerpts courtesy of   http://bit.ly/cB5TuU

Image 1. courtesy of   http://bit.ly/bnUdnP

Image 2. courtesy of  http://bit.ly/aNLWCF

Image 3. courtesy of    http://bit.ly/aF8wgo

Image 4. courtesy of  http://bit.ly/c67XZp

“Aussie Toad Wars-battle rages Meat ants vs Cane toads-ants winning “


In the wild west of Western Australia the toad wars are on. The Cane toads are still winning the battle for territory against humans, animals and plants. The imported toxic Cane toad is the nemesis of the environment and is spreading across Australia.

Cat food to the rescue

Humans are leading the attack against the poisonous  Cane toads on many fronts but their efforts have failed.
They have tried battering, gasing, shooting, running over and even freezing the toxic toads out of existence, but  scientists say just a spoon full of Whiskas could stop the warty horde. When fighting a predator war one must fight with another predator or the toads will continue to win the Toad Wars. Their poison kills all comers. The toads reproduce prolifically, eat anything, are incredibly tough, secrete poison that kills pets and wildlife and injure humans. They have withstood various campaigns to wipe them out.

Now an enterprising Aussie research team lead by Professor Shine has discovered a secret weapon to use against the toads. It seems that the newly emerged baby toads are extreemily vulnerable to Meat ant attacks.

Meat Ants or Gravel ants are the most abundant ant in Australia and measures up to 1 cm long. They build large nests underground and use sand, gravel or dead vegetation to line the surface around the nest entrance. The worker ants have powerful jaws and communicate using chemical signals. The workers are very aggressive and often attack in large numbers when they feel the vibrations of an intruder. Meat Ants do not sting but do have a nasty bite and can discharge a defensive chemical which really smells awful. Meat ants are omnivores eating plants and animals. The look for food during daylight hours.  Australian farmers sometimes use the ants as a quick and easy way to remove an animal carcass by placing the dead animal over a nest. Within a few weeks the ants would have stripped the carcass to bones.

Meat ants to the rescue Toad Wars take new turn

Now back to the Toad Wars

So cat food is placed near the shores of the emerging young cane toads. The ants being meat eaters are attracted by the smell of cat food find it a short “hop” (pun intended) to go from eating canned to dining on raw meat. The toads freeze when bitten by the ants rather than flee so the ants are treated to fine  toad a la cart.  Humans and the ants are happy.
Toad mortalities has increased by fourfold with the addition of cat food baits.
Meat ants have already killing millions of cane toads, but seem to be willing to up their consumption.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of  http://www.sciencealert.com.au.html
Excerpts courtesy of  http://bit.ly/bM2M1N

Image courtesy of  http://www.stardestroyer.net/mrwong/Cane-toad-2.jpg

Image courtesy of  http://bit.ly/azVgvl

“Poaching +aphrodisiacs + greed + ignorance = the ‘blood diamonds’ of species survival”


You may be seeing the last of these species

It seems even those we pay to protect our animals make more money poaching than caring for the future of animals in their country. Zimbabwe security forces poached 200 rhinos during these past two years. Ivory is worth more now than gold on the black market. They are not alone.

As terrible as this is, we are supporting this behavior every time we purchase something made from ivory, tiger aphrodisiacs or wear a fur pelt from some skinned animal, go hunting for sport or chop up our forests or lands to plant non sustainable crops, build nuclear plants or drill into the sea bed for oil.

Only we can create a new healthier world.

Why do we bother to try to save endangered animals on one hand

– we wipe them out with the other?

Is there president for continuing to work with animal populations that have very few members thus limiting their genetic pool? Especially when “the blood diamond effect” is so pervasive? Why is the gene pool diversity needed?

As current genetic knowledge has it, the more diverse the number of genes contributing to the reproductive pool the stronger the chance that healthy, genetically strong traits to be passed down to offspring insuring the survival of the species.

Many of our most well known animals like the South China tiger, the orangutan, the Sumatran elephant and rhino, the panda, the tortoise, many of the whales, the sea turtles, the cheetah, monarch butterfly, pacific salmon, the North American bears, the wolf, jaguar, sharks, tuna, hundreds of frog, toad and other amphibians… are a few of thousands of animals and plants destroyed along the way to the bank or for aphrodisiacs or to make homes by slashing and burning or long lining their lives to the brink of extinction.

As the blood diamond, the African diamond mined at the expense on the backs of the blacks in the mines of South Africa, so to is the ivory horns, tiger penis, animal pelts, turtle shells and eggs, shark fins, roe of fish, palm oil, illegal animal trade , over fishing, etc are the bloody diamonds rampant in modern society.

Should we try to save an endangered species?

Junaidi Payne chairman of the Borneo Rhinoceros Alliance (BORA) and longtime conservationist with WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), Malaysia answers this question this way, “There are estimated to be 11,000 orangutans [in Sabah alone] and probably 1,500 [Bornean pygmy] elephants, but there are no more than forty rhinos… New populations have stagnated and are going down slowly. It’s about need.

Bornean rhino probably has only 6-7 fertile females. MAYBE THEY CAN BE SAVED.

It is the maybe that keep us going against all odds as explorers of old trying to cross Antarctica and the success stories along the way like the miracles from medical field. Against all odds and commonly held genetic theory some will survive and flourish outside of captivity in their natural habitat. We can do it.

Intensive conservation measures pulled the white rhino back now about 17,480 white rhinos live in east and southern Africa and are the most populous rhino species in the world. Rewilding of the tigers in China is under way trying to help the South China tiger’s numbers. We cannot give up on our world.

Life in all forms is too precious.

Thanks to everyone who loves enough to give their time, energy and money to save our world. Everyone can help become a Crusader for Nature.” – Mother Nature

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of  http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1201-hance_tam.html

Excerpts courtesy of  http://bit.ly/bEKRms

Image courtesy of  http://www.ens-newswire.com/20090716_rhinopoaching.jpg

Image courtesy of  http://english.people.com.cn/200605/24/images/tiger1.jpg


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