Date Posted: Jan 19, 2017
More than 100 wildflower enthusiasts attended the annual Panhandle Wildflower Alliance meeting Jan. 19 in Panama City. The meeting was kicked off by Doug Tallamy, author of the book "Bringing Nature Home," who emphasized the importance of roadsides in saving pollinators.
Tallamy, a University of Delaware entomologist, talked about the “fractured habitat” created by urban and agricultural development, explaining that roadsides can create linear pathways that connect fractured areas, which alone may be unable to sustain healthy populations of insects and animals.
He also reiterated the importance of providing native habitat for insects, especially caterpillars, some of which utilize just one species of plant as their host. Exotic invaders often are of little use to native butterflies, bees, birds and animals, and can edge out native species to create monocultures with little value, he said.
Jaret Daniels, the Florida Museum of Natural History's associate curator and program director of lepidoptera, noted in another presentation that butterfly and bee mortalities along roadways is far less than the number of insects benefiting from roadside habitat.
The meeting also included a review of protected wildflower areas in the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) Panhandle district, a presentation on actions other states are taking to protect and plant roadside habitat, and reports from regional partners.
The Florida Wildflower Foundation led the effort to form the Alliance five years ago as an informal communications group for roadside wildflower enthusiasts. Its members represent FDOT, Florida Native Plant Society chapters, garden clubs, economic development councils, county extension offices, the Master Gardener and Naturalist programs, and county and city government.
Click to learn more about the Alliance.
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