Sunday, October 19, 2008

Groups Grapple Invasives

Doyle Park and all who enjoy it received two great gifts on Saturday, October 18.

In the morning, a group of from Johnson Controls cut invasives north of the Birch Hollow (west) entrance. This increases visibility and safety in this part of the Park. A childrens play structure will be built here next Spring.

In the afternoon, an energetic group of Gates Millenium Scholars from the University of M ichigan pitched in to help. They cut buckthorn between the Packard entrance and the pedestrian bridge. Thanks!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bees in My Backyard

As a fan of native plants, it's been interesting to start identifying native bees. As different plants bloom through the summer, the bee visitors change as well.

Early in July, this metallic green bee (?Agapostemon) frequently visited the spiderwort (Tradescantia)

In mid and late July, Bombus bimaculata visited the bee balm (Monarda). This long-tongued humble bee can get the nectar at the bottom of the tiny tubular flowers.

(July 17, 2008)
In August, the prairie dock stated their annual show. Short-tonged B. impatiens were common.

(August 9, 2008)
Some species others were repeat visitors. Carpenter bees (Xylocopa) were eager visitors to swamp milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) and a gray-striped bee (?Megachile) visited several plant, including butterfly milkweed (A. tuberosa.)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Please join us for these upcoming events

Stewardship events are a great way to get outdoors, meet new friends, and help the environment. Here are some opportunities.

Saturday, October 18 - collect seeds at Swift Run Park, 9:00 to noon; plant seeds at Mary Beth Doyle Park, 1:00 to 4:00 PM. (NAP)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Crab spiders animate wildflowers

Among the tiny creatures that really run the world's ecosystems, crab spiders play an interesting role.

The dwell within wildflowers such as milkweed and goldenrod, and prey on insects that come to visit. Often they assume the coloration of the flower - magenta, yellow, or whatever.

In turn, they are preyed upon by pompilid wasps. (see photo.)

Here are a couple of sites:

A great invert blog from Michigan's Upper Peninsula has a nice page on crab spiders.

Windsor Ontario's Ojibway Nature Centre includes crab spiders on its spider page.

So far, I haven't spotted any in my wildflower photos. But I'll keep looking.

Monday, June 2, 2008

June 1 Dedication of Wetland Preserve

The Washtenaw County Drain Commissioner's new storm water detention project at the Mary Beth Doyle Park and Wetland Preserve was dedicated on June 1 This project uses native trees, shrubs, and herbacious plants as part of a project to slow the flow of Mallett's Creek and keep the waters cool for wildlife. (Click here for details.)

Quoting Mike Garfield:
"The park was renamed after Mary Beth Doyle, the Ecology Center's former Environmental Health Campaign Director, in memory of her remarkable work at the local, state, and national levels for environmental health, and of her energetic efforts to save green space and parks in Ann Arbor. Mary Beth ran the field campaign for the 1999 Ann Arbor parks millage campaign, and was a leader in the 2000 Washtenaw County natural areas campaign and 2003 Ann Arbor Greenbelt campaign.

"In the way that this park blends fun with environmental protection, it provides a fitting tribute to Mary Beth Doyle. She found humor in the toughest situations, and was a dogged defender of public health and the environment."

Monday, May 12, 2008

parasites carried by "commercial" bumble bees

A report from the National Academies on the Status of Pollinators
in North America says:

"One possible cause of decline in native bumble bees appears to be introduced parasites carried by bumble bees imported from Europe for greenhouse pollination. These bees frequently harbor disease organisms and their escape from greenhouses can lead to pathogen spillover into native species."

Read a summary here.

This is especially relevant in SE Michigan, because one of the world's largest commercial bee producers has a large operation in Romulus.

Koppert Biological, Inc. is a subsidiary of Koppert Biological Systems BV.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rain Garden planted on May 10

Volunteers and NAP staff built a rain garden at the Mary Beth Doyle Park and Wetland Preserve on May 10, 2008.

The new new rain garden is near the Packard entrance. It will capture storm water that runs off the small parking lot, and channel it to a basin that contains native plants with deep roots.

The new plants will increase diversity and attract birds and butterflies.

This sunny area is a pleasant contrast to the woods south of Mallets Creek where shade-loving flowers are thriving.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mary Beth Doyle Nature Preserve

The Mary Beth Doyle Nature Preserve is in southeast Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

For Mapquest or similar program enter the street address: 2870 Packard Road, 48104.

In, enter lat/long as 42.2431 north 83.7073 west.

In Google Earth, enter as "42.2431 -83.7073" (Be sure to include the negative sign, or you'll end up viewing far north-west China.)

Here's an aerial photo from at least 4 years ago. This was before the condos were built on Cardinal Ave., along the northwest boundary.

Monday, April 21, 2008

insects and milkweeds

Prof. Mark Hunter gave a fascinating presentation on "The Natural and Un-Natural History of Milkweeds: Insects, Toxins and Other Stories" at the combined meeting of the Michigan Botanical Club - Huron Valley Chapter and Wild Ones - Ann Arbor Chapter on Monday, April 21, at Matthei Botanical Gardens, 7:45 PM.

Many insects use milkweed blossoms. Native bees and wasps, butterflies and moths all feast on the nutritious nectar.

You may be aware that Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed as a larval host. That is, the adults lay eggs on milkweed leaves, and when the eggs hatch, caterpillars eat the leaves.

There's a nice overview on the Monarch Watch site.

Monarchs have evolved a way to deal with the specialized chemicals that milkweeds produce, and may use it to reduce the effects of a parasite (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha).

Many other species have evolved tolerance, including a specialized food chain of aphids, crab spiders, and pampilid wasps. Here's a milkweed beetle.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ecological burn Tuesday afternoon April 8 2008

Natural Area Preservation conducted a prescribed ecological burn on Tuesday April 8 at Doyle Park in southeast Ann Arbor.

The overcast skies and slightly damp conditions caused more smoke than usual. The burn extended through about 70% of the woods.

Prescribed burns play an important role in setting back non-native species.

Sorry, we have no photos this year.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Scouts are great helpers

Scouts have played a significant role in the ongoing efforts to improve the Mary Beth Doyle Nature Preserve.

Girl Scouts from the Huron Valley Council have helped to build trails.

Two eagle scout projects are noteworthy:
Austin Quinn Riker and Troop 7 built a footbridge between about halfway between the Verle entrance and the pedestrian bridge that crosses I-94. The bridge is on the north side of the paved sidewalk, and crosses a fairly-deep drainage ditch. They finished this in 2004.

Allen Eyler built a wooden walkway just south of the pedestrian bridge that crosses Malletts Creek in late spring 2005. This crosses an intermittent stream just inside the woods - the trail continues southward at this point.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Man Who Planted Trees

(Image by Frederic Back from

The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono, is a moving parable of how one person can help to restore the damaged Earth. It tells the story of Elzeard Bouffier, laboring in solitude and silence for thirty years, who replants a desolate region.

"It was his opinion that this land was dying for want of trees. He added that, having no very pressing business of his own, he had resolved to remedy this state of affairs."

By the simple act of planting trees, the countryside is transformed. "Instead of the dry wind that used to attack, a gentle breeze was blowing, laden with scents ... The old streams, fed by the rains and snows the forest conserves, are flowing again."

An animated film by Frederic Back, with original music by Normand Roger, is available in both English and French. The English translation is slightly different than that published by Chelsea Green. A book featuring illustrations from the film is available from the same source. In the US, contact Direct Cinema Limited (800-525-0000 or 310-396-4774).

A CD and audio cassette include the story narrated by Robert J. Lurtsema, with music by the Paul Winter Consort. Contact Living Music (860-567 8796)

The most widely-known English translation is published by Chelsea Green Publishing Company (800-639-4099) with woodcut illustrations by Michael McCurdy.

Giorno, of course, wrote the original in French: L'Homme Qui Plantait Des Arbres is published by Gallimard-Jeunesse with illustrations by Willi Glasauer.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Prescribed Fire to Control Invasives

The Doyle nature preserve is a candidate for a prescribed ecological burn in late March or early April (depending on weather.)

Such burns can be very effective in controlling invasive species.

A hot burn can be fatal to small stems of common buckthorn.

Trained staff and volunteers from Ann Arbor's Natural Area Preservation have conducted burns at the Doyle Presrve since 1996. The first woods burn was on March 7, 2000; another was held on April 4, 2001.

(These photos are from April 15, 2005)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Pollinators - Native Bees

Julianna Tuell's presentation on native bees was a highlight at the Wildflower Association of Michigan's 2008 conference.

Her MSU Extension Bulletin "Conserving Native Bees" is available as a pdf download.

Also, Gretchen LeBuhn has created an on-line guide to native bees.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Songs for not-quite-Spring

In eastern North America, Spring is eagerly awaited, but it sometimes seems a long time coming. One way to cope is with music.

Singers Priscilla Herdman, Anne Hills and Cindy Mangsen have two nice songs on their "Voices of Winter" CD ( )

"Witch hazel"


If you've been removing invasise shrubs (especailly common buckthorn) you might enjoy this ditty from Judy Schmidt c. 2003 (Tune: The Victors")

Hail to the buchthorn cutters
Hail to the heartwood hunters
Rhamnus cathartica, we bid you adieu

You drop your berries on us
You stick your thorns into us
Rhamnus cathartica, we will get rid of you

Monday, March 3, 2008

Volunteer Stewardship Day February 23, 2008

Neighbors and volunteers turned out on February 23, 2008, to remove invasive shrubs such as common buckthorn.

See its summer appearance here.

Billy Kirst from NAP led plant ID and removal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Removing invasive shrubs March 31, 2007

Volunteers from near and far help to remove undesirable plants.

Careful work is necessary to avoid damage to nearby plants and soil.

Stems are initially cut at a height of 12 to 18 inches.

Later, a NAP crew will re-cut and apply herbicide to the stumps.

(March 31, 2007)

Volunteer Stewardship Day March 28 2004

Volunteers have cared to the woods for many years.

A major focus is the removal of invasive shrubs, that crowd out native wildflowers.

Our work parties often conclude with a nature walk. Here NAP staffer Steve Wilson points to an intermittant stream that runs north-westerly through the woods.

(March 28, 2004)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Protecting woody seedlings

For best success, plant native trees and shrubs when they are small - often less than 1 cm in diameter.

At this size, however, they are vulnerable to broken by clumsy humans.

Dan Ayers has invented a cage made of fence material to provide a visual impact and physically protect small plants.

Here's one with a paw paw seedling.

Consider these in the snow - they make it easy to see that SOMETHING is gong on that is worthy of protection. Hopefully this inspires some care.

To protect seedlings from deer or cattle, a full-size VACA cage is needed. See examples at Mattheii Botanical Garden parking lot or click here for details.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Doyle Nature Area Restoration History

Over the past 10 years, neighbors, volunteers, scout groups, and NAP staff have made enormous progress restoring the woods at Doyle Nature Area to their natural beauty and diversity.

A neighbor, Kathy (McKee) Squires, was one of the first to recognize the biodiversity in these woods. When the Natural Area Preservation Division was established in 1995, Dave Borneman sponsored a botanical inventory.

Over the years, NAP staff have developed a management plan, established a series of prescribed ecological burns, and focused many hours of staff and volunteer effort here.

Perhaps the most significant year was 2000, when teenagers from the New School cleared a 100-yard swath along the north edge of the woods. The effect was dramatic. Neighbors and visitors could see a forest where there had been an inpenetrable tangle. people felt safer, visits to the woodland area increased, and wildflowers appeared in profusion.

The first prescribed burn was conducted south of the woods in March 1996.

Yours truly "discovered" this park at a NAP volunteer stewardship day on May 17, 1997. David Mindell led volunteers who moved trillium, mayapple and false Solomon's seal from a new trail in the southwest corner of the woods.

Other volunteer stewardship days were held on May 21, 2000, March 23, 2002, and other dates. Some have cleared shrubs south of the woods, and in the area near the Verle entrance.

The work started in the