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UConn to Host Invasive Plant Conference on Oct. 11

Donna Ellis

Extension Educator Donna Ellis releasing biological controls.

UConn to host major invasive plant conference on October 11 

The Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG) will present a symposium on Tuesday,

October 11, 2016 at the Student Union, University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. The symposium will take place from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The symposium theme is Invasive Plants in Our Changing World: Learn from the Past, Prepare for the Future. People with all levels of interest and experience are invited to attend. 

This 8th biennial conference features national, regional, and local experts as well as citizen volunteers sharing practical solutions for invasive plant management and actions needed to promote native species and improve wildlife habitat. The symposium is open to the public and will include introductory information about invasive plants.

Nationally-recognized Keynote speaker, Jil Swearingen, co-author of Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas will present, “We’re Moving on Up: Invasive Plants Heading North”. Karl Wagener, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality, will speak on “Connecticut’s Future: Rooted in Choice”. William Hyatt, Vice Chair of the Connecticut Invasive Plants Council, will provide a legislative update. Charlotte Pyle, recently retired from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service will deliver closing remarks.

Concurrent afternoon sessions will include:

What Are Other States Doing? Panel discussion with New England invasive plant experts.

Native Plants for our Pollinators – Creating a balanced and healthy pollinator environment.

Management of Key Invasives: Success Stories and Progress Reports 

Biological Control: No Animal Too Small – Learn about these valuable invasive plant management tools.

Aquatic Invasive Plants – Updates on Hydrilla and other new aquatic invasive plant threats.

Plants to Watch Out For – What are the new invasives that threaten our borders?

Research and management posters, an invasive plant identification area, and other educational exhibits will be featured throughout the day.

The symposium agenda and online registration are available at www.cipwg.uconn.edu. Early registration is $50 (postmarked on or before September 12); regular registration is $60 (postmarked AFTER September 12 or for walk-in registrations). Student fee (with valid student ID) is $25. Registration includes parking and lunch. In addition, Pesticide Recertification and other Continuing Education Credits will be available. Attendees are advised to register early, as the last symposium had record attendance and sold out with 500 attendees. 

On-line registration is preferred, but if you would like to pay by check, please visit the CIPWG website at www.cipwg.uconn.edu to download the registration form and mail it in with your payment. For additional information, contact Donna Ellis at 860-486-6448; donna.ellis@uconn.edu.

How to Help the Bees and Other Pollinators

By Carol Quish for UConn Extension

Bees are extremely important and responsibly for 75% of the foods we eat every day. There are more than 4,000 species of bees in North America, and about 350 in the Northeast. They include honeybees, bumble bees, mason bees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, orchard bees, and the list goes on! Some are programmed to visit only a certain species of plants while others are cosmopolitan feeders, going to a wide variety of flowers to seek out nectar and pollen. They all pollinate flowers that then produce a fruit or vegetable. Leaf crops are the exception, but it could be said that without pollination, fruiting and the resulting seed production, there would not be seed for future leaf crops. So we need bees, all kinds of bees, not just honey bees. Other insects, animals and even some birds also pollinate certain crops. Hummingbirds come to mind for one.

How do we keep our bee pollinators happy and alive to do the job? I have listed the highlights of ways we humans can assist this important tasks on which we depend.

monarch butterflyFood for bees. Plant flowers. Trees and shrubs are important flowering plants in addition to the perennials, annuals and vegetables that we normally think of when taking bees into consideration. Trees and shrubs typically flower very early in the spring, some in late winter, providing nectar sources for the very early bees that emerge from their winter hiding places and nests. Willows and witch hazels are bloomers bees count on. Think continued blooming to feed from early season until will into the fall. Also plant en masse. Bees flying overhead are more likely to find larger groupings of plants in flower than just one or two plants spaced apart.

Types of plants that provide a heavy nectar source are best. Single flowered plants produce more nectar and pollen than plants bred for double flowers. An example is cosmos; the original single petal variety is better for bees than the flower with a double row of petals. The same goes for double petunias. Think single flowers. Plants in the mint and aster families are huge nectar producers beloved by bees. Asters and golden rod bloom late when there is not much else out. It goes without saying that native plants will be a benefit to native bees, aligned to bloom and provide sustenance at just the right time it is needed most.

The Xerces Society has a great native plant list for the northeast.

Water for bees. All life needs water. Bees do not swim, nor can they ‘stand’ on water. Birdbaths are great, just keep them shallow and place a rock with the top exposed into the center of the water. This gives the bees a place to drink from without drowning. In the wild, bees drink from damp edges of streams and ponds, and wet soil. Place shallow plates of water among your plants.

Housing for bees. Honeybees can live in hives, managed by humans, but they don’t need our help. In nature, they will find a protected hole in a tree, a cavity or wall void in which to live. There are many other bee species that are not honeybees. Two thirds of these bees live in than soil. Some solitary, others in communities. Beware of soil tillage. Digging up the ground can and will disturb bee nests. Observe an area before disturbing the soil. If bees are present, if you see them entering the ground, coming and going, you have an active bee pollinator area. Bees like to live in a sunny area where the soil is warmer, and especially on the edge of woods. Dead trees and broken branches, piles of brush and undisturbed grassy areas provide protection and cover for many bee living quarters. Some bees make their homes in hollow stems of plants; others will hollow out dead twigs. As gardeners, we usually clean up these areas, but leave some as bee habitat.

Don’t use pesticides. To protect the bees, never spray any insecticide or fungicide when flowers are open and bees are present. Bees are active during daylight hours, so for growers and others that must spray as a last resort for certain pests and crops, it should be applied during the dark of morning, i.e. 4 a.m. to avoid hitting the bees and so that the pesticide dries before the bees become active. Systemic insecticides, ones that are applied to the soil then taken up by the plant, will move to all parts of the plant, including the pollen, nectar and even gutation water formed as tiny droplets expressed on leaf edges. Bees will take in the pesticide through these sources, and while it may not be enough to kill them outright, the toxins will weaken the bees and build up in the colony.

To learn more please visit the UConn Home and Garden Education Center