Native Plant Profile
Fruits for Butterflies
Habitat Savvy Lawn Care
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HABITAT - the arrangement of food, water, cover,
and space -IS THE KEY! This
newsletter is a place to share ideas, information, and help answer
some of your habitat and wildlife gardening concerns.
Native Plant Profile......Coralberry,
A small shrub in the snowberry family found growing on a variety
of sites from dry and rocky to moist and rich. Averages three feet tall and
grows in sun or shade. Though not showy, the flowers produce nectar that
attracts Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and is a nectar source for bees. The berries
persist into winter.
Flowers are small greenish-purple bells clustered in the axils of the leaves
from July to August. Showy purplish –red berries in September and persist into
Landscape Notes: An excellent example of a
multi-use wildlife plant that also is extremely versatile in the landscape.
Brightly colored fruits make this shrub a showstopper. Shrub’s habit of forming
dense thickets make it useful for shrub borders, naturalizing, and low screens.
Useful in bank stabilization and has been planted along highways to control bank
erosion. It is a fast-growing shrub that tolerates city smoke. Also can be
incorporated into foundation plantings and container gardens.
Coralberries are food for: Turkey, Ruffed
Grouse, Bobwhite, Ring-necked Pheasant, Ruby –throated Hummingbird (Nectar),
Brown Thrasher, American Robin, Wood Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwing,
Warbling Vireo, Cardinal, Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch, and Pine Grosbeak.
Leaves are eaten by the Hummingbird Clearwing and Snowberry Clearwing moth
caterpillars. These day-flying moths are often seen drinking nectar from
flowers, hovering like hummingbirds.
Coralberry is cover for: Turkey, Ruffed
Grouse, Bobwhite, Ring-necked Pheasant, Wood Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Cardinal,
Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch, Pine Grosbeak.
Additional Notes: Coralberry is also called
Indian Currant, or Buckbrush.Native Americans use the slender stems to weave
baskets. Deer eat this plant less than many other native plants. Coralberry is
one of the best shrubs you can plant to attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. This
shrub is particularly suited for small gardens. The plant has few pests or
Maryland Wildlife: Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore (Northern) Orioles were named
because their striking orange and black
resembled the coat of arms colors of
Sir George Calvert, 1st Baron of
Baltimore Orioles are grouped with birds known as Neotropical
migrants, birds that breed in North America and winter in Central and South
America. Most neotropical migrants are declining due to forest habitat loss and
fragmentation in all three Americas. Baltimore Orioles rarely winter in
Maryland, but can be attracted to backyard feeders in the summer. Look for the
migrating orioles to return to Maryland in March through April.
Eats caterpillars (including fall webworm, tent and gypsy moth
caterpillars), beetles, scale insects, woodborers, aphids, sawfly larvae,
grasshoppers, and others.
Supplements insect diet with fruit. Preferred food trees and shrubs include
serviceberry, apple (seeds), mulberry, cherry, blueberry, American mountain ash,
Drinks nectar in summer. Particularly attracted by flowers such as scarlet
trumpet honeysuckle called “Dropmore”, hollyhock, rose of Sharon, wood lily,
turk’s cap lily and tiger lily.
Breeds throughout Maryland in large trees in open areas along
country roads, in towns, or edges of woods near streams.
Favorite nest and
shelter trees include maples, birches, and apples. black cherry, and oaks.
Builds a sturdy pendulous pouch nest.
Will accept short pieces of colored yarn
(no longer than four inches) for nest building.
Lays four to six eggs in May
Oriole young hatch twelve to fourteen days later and leave the
nest twelve to fourteen days after hatching.
Can be enticed to nest in backyards
with the appropriate habitat.
In the summer, offer apples, grapefruits, oranges, and bananas on
spikes or platform feeders.
Orioles will drink from hummingbird or oriole
feeders as long as perches are present within reach of feeders.
Can also make an
oriole feeder from a hamster water bottle.
In winter, early spring, offer suet, suet mixtures, peanut butter, grape jelly,
halved fruit, raisins, cracked corn, millet, and pecan meats.
Takes food from
bird tables, trays, hanging feeders, logs, and suet holders.
Baltimore Orioles have declined significantly in the eastern
In Maryland, the decline may approach a rate of 2% annually.
||Want to know an easy way to attract
butterflies to your backyard? Offer rotten fruit- the juicier the better! Many
species of butterflies will not nectar at backyard flowers and offering fruit is
a great way to see spectacular butterflies up close.
There are commercial butterfly feeders filled with sugar water, but not all
species will use them. Try to mimic what happens in nature.
One of the easiest things to try first is to take an unpeeled banana and make
slits in the skin. Then place the banana in a closed container outside. The
bananas need to get liquefied so it is easier for the butterflies to sip.
Keeping the skin on helps keep the banana from drying out. When the bananas are
gushy enough, put the bananas on a flat board that is attached to a pole near a
window. This way you can easily watch the butterflies without disturbing them.
Bananas seem to be the best fruit to use for general use. Watermelons attract
Mourning Cloaks and Question Marks. Rotting pear juice is a favorite for
Admirals. Oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruit, apples, mangoes and persimmons
also produce sugary liquids when rotting.
Butterflies that have been seen using banana boards in Maryland are as follows:
Comma, Red-spotted Purple, Buckeye, Red Admiral, Mourning Cloak, Hackberry
Emperor, Tawny Emperor, Question Mark, Viceroy, Common Wood Nymph, Variegated
Fritillary, Painted Lady and Compton Tortoiseshell.
Feeders should be monitored to make sure butterflies do not get stuck and die
where juice has evaporated.
|You can create a fruit mash to spread on rocks, or tree trunks that will attract
Mash any fruit with a sugar source (Sugar, molasses, corn syrup, or honey) and
let it sit for a few hours then set it out for the butterflies.
One pound of sugar
One mashed banana
One cup of molasses or syrup
One cup of fruit juice
|Smear your mash out on the surface you
choose. Butterflies like the sunlight, but the mash dries out more
quickly in direct sunlight. A semi-sunny area works best. A good
idea is to spread it somewhere where you can hose it off later. It
can get pretty gross after a couple of days and loses its ability to
attract butterflies. Also remember there are many other insects that
are attracted to the fruit, and are also interesting to watch.
Don’t forget to provide some water nearby for the butterflies to drink. They are
attracted to open water. A long narrow dish with moist soil seems to works best
for their water source.
Habitat Savvy Lawn Care
Studies estimating lawn surface area across
the country reveal that 25-30 million acres are found in the country’s urban-
suburban landscape. That’s a lot of grass. Water quality and bay cleanup efforts
often target agricultural practices as a primary culprit, however, what we
homeowners put in and on our lawns can have a cumulative impact on the bay as
The good news is that you can reduce lawn
chores, improve water quality AND create healthy backyard habitats for wildlife.
Carole Ann Barth of the Center for Watershed Protection outlines eight key steps
towards decreasing the amount of time, money, fertilizer, pesticides and water
needed to maintain lawns. Many of these practices are compatible and easily
teamed with wildlife habitat goals.
Step 1: Lawn conversion
– Some lawn is
necessary for high traffic areas, children play areas, and pet exercise areas.
Once you’ve identified these areas, select projects to convert 60% or more of
your lawn into habitat such as meadows, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens,
salamander habitats, or water gardens. A 1993 study of simulated rainfall found
that natural landscaping such as meadows or mulched areas strongly reduced storm
water runoff even with rainfall totaling 3.7 inches.
Step 2: Soil building
– Take soil tests every
3 years to determine pH, fertility, and soil texture (sandy, clay, loam) of lawn
areas. Sandy and clay soils do not produce healthy lawns. Also, count
earthworms. Healthy soils have over 10 worms per square foot. Knowing these
facts about your lawn soil will aid you in improving soil conditions resulting
in better grass growth. Healthy earthworm populations also feed birds.
Step 3: Grass selection
– Select grasses that
grow well in your area. New low-input, slow growing, dwarf grass varieties make
lawn care and maintenance easier. Buffalo grass is a warm season, low growing,
prairie grass that has excellent drought – tolerance and good insect and cold
Step 4: Mowing management
– Mow grass to 3
inches or higher and leave grass clippings on the ground. The Rodale Institute
of Research found that an acre of clippings provided 235 lbs. Of nitrogen, 210
lbs., of potassium and 77 lbs. of phosphorus which are the elements found in
fertilizers. Rodale concluded that grass clippings could meet most of the
nutrient requirements of any lawn.
Step 5: Minimal fertilization
– If soil tests
indicate that fertilizer is needed, apply commercial fertilizers at half the
recommended rate to prevent leaching of excess nutrients. Apply fertilizers only
when grass is actively growing- warm season grasses in the summer; cool season
grasses in the in the fall. Make sure rain is not imminent. You can further
minimize nutrient leaching by using an encapsulated, formulated or organic
fertilizer that slowly releases nutrients over time. Compost can also build soil
and provide beneficial soil microorganisms.
Step 6: Weed control and tolerance
your definition of lawn to include weeds that perform desirable functions.
Legumes like clover can fix atmospheric nitrogen and grow where grasses may not
perform well. Clovers produce abundant nectar attractive to butterflies. Weeds
also provide habitat for beneficial insect predators. Ladybugs feed on dandelion
pollen and clover.
Step 7: Reduce pesticide use
– A 1994 survey
of 500 Baltimore homes found 50 different herbicides, insecticides and
fungicides were applied by residents or commercial applicators. Misuse of
pesticides is one of the primary sources for pesticides migrating off lawns into
streams. A review of 12 different studies found herbicides and insecticides are
routinely present in urban runoff. The Baltimore study revealed one in thirteen
residents apply pesticides themselves and tow thirds of the do-it your selfers
said they rinsed out sprayers over grass, pavement or directly into gutters or
storm sewers. Pesticides drift on impervious surfaces and applying before rain
are other sources for contamination. Two insecticides commonly found in urban
storm water are diazinon and chlorpyrifos, and toxicity of these chemicals to
terrestrial wildlife such as geese, songbirds, and amphibians is well
documented. Homeowners with backyard habitats should rely on organic or
integrated pest management methods whenever possible to address insect and
Step 8: Sensible irrigation
– water lawns
infrequently but give them a through soaking. Be sure to water only as fast as
the ground can soak it up or runoff will be created. The best time to water is
in the early morning to guard against water loss through evaporation. During dry
weather birds will utilize sprinklers. Cool season grass lawns that turn brown
in the summer are simply dormant and not dead. The grass will turn green once
cooler and wetter weather returns.
photographs courtesy of Steve Baskauf and
Bioimages; A Project of
Vanderbilt University. Provides educational information to the public on
biologically related topics, as well as a source of biological images for
personal and non-commercial use.
Photograph of female Baltimore Oriole
perched on a hand courtesy of Deanna Dawson, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Photograph of male Baltimore Oriole
perched on a hand courtesy of
Chan Robbins, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The source for both of these photos is:
Gough, G.A., Sauer, J.R., Iliff, M. Patuxent Bird
Identification Infocenter. 1998. Version 97.1. Patuxent Wildlife
Research Center, Laurel, MD.
Here is a listing of phone numbers, web sites and organizations that you might find helpful or interesting in your search for ideas to manage your wild acres.
DNR Online... Inspired by nature!
Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at
backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North
America. FeederWatchers periodically count the highest numbers of each
species they see at their feeders from November through early April.
FeederWatch helps scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird
populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Project
FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership
with the National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, and Canadian
Nature Federation. http://birds.cornell.edu/pfw
National Wildlife Federation - Details on their backyard habitat program www.nwf.org or call them at 1-800-822-9919.
Native plants - The Maryland Native Plant Society offers information dedicated to protecting, conserving and restoring Maryland's native plants and habitats, visit them at
Maryland Cooperative Extension offers home and garden information, tips publications, plant problems, Bay issues, and other links at
Their Home and Garden Information number is statewide and can be reached at
1-800-342-2507, and from outside Maryland at 1-410-531-1757.
Maryland's "Becoming an Outdoors - Woman Program
"- One of the topics covered in the three-day workshops is Backyard
For a free wildlife & native
plant newsletter, visit the WindStar Wildlife Institute at
and subscribe to the WindStar Wildlife Garden Weekly e-newsletter. You can
also visit this website to learn how you can become a certified wildlife habitat
For more information on butterflies - visit the North American Butterfly Association at
Warm season grasses and wild meadows for upland nesting birds visit Pheasants
Forever at www.pheasantsforever.org or e-mail:
We want to hear from you!
Letters, e-mail, photos, drawings. Let us know how
successful you are as you create wildlife habitat on
Write to Me!
Natural Resources Biologist II
Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service
MD Dept of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Ave., E-1
Annapolis MD 21401
Habichat, the newsletter for Wild Acres participants, is published by the
Wildlife and Heritage Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
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