May Garlic Mustard Pull

 

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Robb Cleave, Volunteer Coordinator at the Forest Preserve District, demonstrates how to remove Garlic Mustard.

Removing invasive species is important for our local environment. Garlic Mustard is an especially invasive species that affect states all over the country, specifically afflicting our local forest preserves as well! Earlier this month, the Forest Preserve District collaborated with Aurora Christian School’s students to remove Garlic Mustard from Elburn Forest Preserve!

For many invasive plants, specifically Garlic Mustard, removal is the most effective treatment. Garlic Mustard has shallow roots, which allow it to grow upward very quickly and shade out its surrounding native plants. Luckily, the shallow roots make it easy to pull out of the ground, preventing it from reseeding for the next year. At this removal, a few students and employees of the Forest Preserve District worked together to pull the Garlic Mustard population at the forest preserve. There was a larger population of the invasive plant in the area, but together they were able to pull over 200 lbs. of Garlic Mustard, and even observe some wildlife along the way!

Looking to remove this plant from your yard or a local natural area? Be sure to have trash bags ready for storage of the plants during removal, and remove the entire root system, not just the stem, so there is a chance the plant can regrow. Fun fact: after you’re done with removal, you can make a meal with your gatherings! Garlic Mustard has historically been used as an herb in many recipes- but be sure to cook it first. At the end of the day, you’ll have done your local environment- and dinner- a favor!

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Aurora Christian students pose with the garbage bags of garlic mustard they pulled.

 

Interested in volunteering with the Forest Preserve District? We host many invasive species removals as well as many other events! Check us out at http://www.kaneforest.com to learn more about how you can help!

The Buzzzzz on Pollinators

 

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A bee lands on a flower. Photo by Valerie Blaine.

Bugs. They seem to be everywhere, right? Buzzing around gardens and other natural areas, or sometimes even your dinner as you try to enjoy a summer picnic outside. While it may seem there is an abundance of them, not all bugs are thriving as of lately. Populations of pollinators across the world are suffering. According to the National Wildlife Federation, habitat loss, invasive species, and pesticides are just a few of the reasons why our tiny friends are disappearing. But there’s good news! Luckily, there are many ways you can help our local pollinators to thrive in your very own garden.

Build a bee house. Although it may sound silly, bees need a place to live too! Yes, the most familiar type of bee, the honey bee, live in a honeycomb but there are actually many species of bees who don’t! By constructing small structures, you’re giving a bee a safe place to lay their eggs or hibernate, as they normally lay them in tunnels they carve into wood. These houses can also be an adorable addition to your garden!

Plant pollinator-friendly species. There are a variety of plants that pollinators love, and you’ll love too for their beauty! Pollinators need pollen and nectar as a source of food but also as a shelter from predators for them and their young. To build an inclusive garden good for all pollinators, plant native species. Research on what plants attract which pollinators to offer a variety for every species and for you to enjoy. For example, Black-Eyed Susans are known to attract bees, while Monarch butterflies love Milkweed!

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A Milkweed plant

Avoid or limit the use of pesticides. For pollinators, pesticides are bad news. While they can control any unwanted weeds, pesticides can also harm our tiny flying friends. Consider other pest control options that are much friendlier to your garden and the pollinators in it. There are certain natural pesticide options, such as vinegar or essential oils that will not affect or harm pollinators in any way, so consider using these the next time there is a pest problem in your backyard.

Get involved. Spreading the word to others about taking care of our pollinators is one of the best ways to support them. There are plenty of volunteer positions with the Kane County Forest Preserve that aid in preserving our beautiful, local wildlife.

Attend National Pollinators Week! During the week of June 17- June 23, the Forest Preserve District will be a part of the international celebration of Pollinator Week. We will be highlighting the valuable ecosystem services provided by our local insects, mammals, birds, and other many pollinators. Check out the many fun activities throughout the week, including pop-up naturalist tents at different forest preserves, the Monarchs and Milkweed Festival (free pollinator-friendly milkweed plants while supplies last!) and self-guided activities at the nature center. Celebrate the pollinators that make our ecosystems thrive!

 

Woodland Birthday Parties

 

 

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Does your child have a birthday coming up soon? Let us host the party with one of our Woodland Birthday Parties! Surrounded by the trees, birds, and other woodland creatures at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, we will provide the best party for any nature-loving child.

Treat your child and their friends to a one hour, naturalist-led activity of your choice. Learn about the plant and animal species that call our local woodlands home during a hike led by one of our Naturalists through the beautiful trails of the forest preserve. Looking for a more cozy setting? The other option is a hands-on campfire, with a naturalist led discussion about a variety of nature topics. After the naturalist activity, the group is given an hour to stay in the historic Creek Bend facility and have free time in the Nature Center.

All parties come with unique, nature themed party favors for every child to take home with them. Food is not provided as a part of the party, but families are more than welcome to provide their own. Although decorations are not provided as a part of the package, guests are welcome to enter the facility early to decorate for their party.

Consider a Woodland party for your child’s next birthday party! The natural surroundings and hands-on experiences will be sure to make your child’s birthday one to remember. For more details, email programs@kaneforest.com or call (630) 444-3190.

How to Prevent Invasive Species

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Invasive brush at Glenwood Park. 

Spring is in the air, and summer is on its way! This means that plants are growing and flowers are blooming once again. However, the change of seasons also suggests the return of some rather not-so-welcome plant species; the invasive kind. Invasive plants are not native to the area in which they grow, spread quickly, and can cause damage to the environment around it. So, what are some ways that you can prevent invasive species from inhabiting our local environment?

 

If it looks suspicious, leave it there.

There are a few invasive species that can appear to be beautiful or interesting. A good guideline to follow is if you don’t know what it is, leave it there. This prevents the spreading of their seeds to other areas through transport. There are plenty of native species that would make a much better (and safer) bouquet.

 

Proceed with caution.

If you’ve spent an afternoon out in nature, be sure to clean off any clothing items before moving to another environment. Seeds can often cling to shoes, pants, etc. and make a new home anywhere they may fall. Washing them is often the most effective way of getting rid unwanted hitchhikers. Pets can also carry seeds that may cling to their fur, so be sure to give them a good cleaning as well.

 

Keep it native.

Spring and summer is prime time to do gardening to keep your yard looking lush. When selecting plants, try to choose only native plants that will create a better environment for their neighboring greenery. Native plants also help to prevent the spread of invasive species to create a natural defense system right in your backyard!

 

Educate others and yourself.

Think you may have spotted an invasive species? The best step you can take is to remove it. Illinois houses many invasive species; from grasses to vines, these unwanted guests take many forms. A few common examples are garlic mustard and Japanese stillgrass. If you are unsure, research if the plant is invasive or not, and exercise caution when transporting them to the trash.

 

Volunteer!

Invasive species can be found all over Kane County. The good news is, the Kane County Forest Preserve hosts many removal programs for invasive species, and we can always use your help! For more information about these removals, visit our website at http://www.kaneforest.com