Keeping up with the spirit of the hunt, we had twelve enthusiastic volunteers join us for the annual search for praying mantis egg nests. It was an incredibly warm, sunny January afternoon, and once everyone had found at least one nest, volunteers were sent into different fields to start bagging the camouflaged egg cases. The competition heated up as our two hours dwindled, and by closing time, we had found 144 nests. Bravo to Ms. Mikela Neary for being our top finder this year! We all theorized as to why there were so many fewer nests than last year; in our discussion, we remembered that some of the nests hatched early last year due to a very early series of warm days, but when the weather turned cold again before spring actually sprung, many of those poor, confused mantises probably perished. Hopefully all of these eggs will hatch at a more opportune time and fill our fields with mantises and nests for next year! The eggs that we collected will live in their protected cage until the fields are mowed, at which point we’ll take a little hike and return them to the grasslands. Great job again, team!
On another beautiful January afternoon, four volunteers spent an incredibly productive afternoon with bamboo. First, we made quick work of clearing out broken and bent bamboo that was blocking the path between the fence line and the pond. Once that was clear, we begin to brainstorm about what to do about the broken fence rails. The answer seemed so obvious: take lengths of cut bamboo and use them as fencing! So the volunteers became a lumberjack, sawmill, and construction crew, and the results were fantastic. Arboretum visitors will be delighted with the clear paths and new, improved fencing!
We were excited to jump into our first bee-habitat creation program, and our enthusiasm was evident in the results! In one afternoon, our six volunteers assembled a wide variety of structures to attract and house native bees. We drilled, cut, and assembled logs, bamboo, twine, and wood, and we ended up with five different types of bee habitats. We will keep a few of these creations for Avalon, but share the rest with our friends at preserves, arboretums, and parks across the island!
Two ambitious volunteers joined us on this morning all the way out and down in Long Beach to help the community efforts to rebuild and protect the town. It was an incredible display of high-spirited teamwork as approximately 40 folks of all ages gathered to place donated and town-collected Christmas trees in chicken-foot formations along the beach. The crew then went back through and cut off and collected all of the plastic netting and ropes from the trees to let the branches open and prevent freed pieces from causing environmental and aesthetic issues on the beach. Over the next two months, sand will blow onto the trees and form a dune, completely covering the trees and creating a fairly stable dune to protect the town from storm surges. What a great use of used and unused Christmas trees and a great way to bring the community together to help their town!
On this afternoon, 7 volunteers came together and split into two groups to tackle part two of two tasks: building native bee habitats and separating seeds from flowers, pods, and grasses for the State Parks’ use. Both groups jumped right into the projects and had a laugh as milkweed seed pods created a fairyland inside of the barn with all of their fluff, and the volunteers downstairs had similar results with sawdust. At the end of our three hours, bags and bags of seeds had been separated, and the bee boxes were brought very close to completion. One more day should do it for both of these projects, and then the seeds can be returned to State Parks to scatter around in the springtime, and the bee boxes can begin finding homes around the island!