This week, we salute the little things — the pollinators that do our major lifting. Why care about pollinators? Because 80 percent of our food crops depend on them, as does the health of our natural areas, which we depend on for things such as oxygen (sort of vital, right?).
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Florida once teemed with Atala butterflies but overharvesting of the Atala’s host plant Coontie caused a drastic decline in butterfly populations. During the mid-20th century Atalas were thought to be extinct. Now populations are rebounding thanks to the high demand for Coontie in native landscaping. Atalas are lovely hairstreak butterflies with velvety black wings that shine with an iridescent aquamarine. The underside of their wings displays three rows of small aquamarine dots and a larger reddish orange spot on the hindwing.
Here in Florida, shade is a valuable part of our landscapes, but it creates challenges. That’s because plants feed on sunlight and even the most shade-tolerant plants require it to grow and flower. In dense shade, few plants survive for long. Watch this video, where Dr. Craig Huegel introduces you to the complex concept called shade and how to work with it to achieve beautiful results.
The insects that pollinate our food crops and natural areas are in steep decline. Our suburban landscapes are more important than ever in supporting them. No place for a garden? No problem! Our new video and handout can help you create a small pollinator oasis in a pot!