World Views: Sunflowers have a new meaning at the end of February 2022

“Put sunflower seeds in your pockets so sunflowers grow here when you die.”

Sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine, a country most had not given much thought to, has now become a symbol of resistance, unity, and hope. Sunflowers had been planted at a Ukraine missile base after the removal of nuclear weapons in 1996. Now, much of social media is sporting brilliant yellow sunflowers and the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine. We have a different view of these colors, these flowers, Ukraine, war, nuclear weapons, and our world.

Thinleaf Sunflower in UV

When I first started my “World Views: Pollinators & Plants project a few years back, it was to give a glimpse of what we humans see, or don’t see, and what many of the wild ones can see. I am not a fan of studio or portrait setups so the ultraviolet and high-key images have been a challenge. Maybe in seeing those other world views we can come to understand how important the world we often overlook really is. We have a lot to learn. About ourselves, others, and all life around us.

Finally, many are paying attention and seeing what bravery, kindness, passion, compassion, and solidarity are.

During this week, 2/28/22 to 3/4/22, of invasive species awareness and turmoil in Ukraine, plan on planting some sunflower seeds or plants this spring season. March 2, 2022 day 6 of the attempted invasion and war on Ukraine by Russia — as the world unites to support them in so many ways. Will it be enough?

Thinleaf Sunflower, Helianthus decapetalus is a native to much of the northeast to the central US, but there are so many wonderful Helianthus out there! The numerous species of bees, flies, butterflies, beetles, bugs, aphids, leafhoppers, grasshoppers, moths, songbirds, gamebirds, crows, voles, moles, groundhogs, deer, and others will appreciate the treats! If something isn’t eating your plants there is a problem!

Bee in Love! With Phlox!

Yes, I’ve posted “Bee in Love” before but it fluttered by as I was doing a cleanup this morning. I do like this image! Phlox is a plant that can be found in many gardens. It is enjoyed by butterflies, skippers, moths, Syrphid flies, some beetles, caterpillars, possibly a rabbit, groundhog or deer, and yes bees. Take a look at the varieties listed on Go Botany and see the native and non-native to CT varieties. When I first decided on planting native I found it harder than I’d imagined. I often found myself extending out to include those varieties in nearby states and those possibly moving on up as our climate changes to include the warmth they enjoy. Stay well!

Phlox on Go Botany:

To see some additional insect images visit my website. Excuse the messiness as I’ve let it go without updates and organization for too long. Oh, the list of images “to file” is still long, so visit again as they will be uploaded soon! SophieZylaPhotoSZ: are available as prints on assorted papers and in a variety of sizes as well as greeting cards. Message me for info or order from my website. Sophie Zyla/All rights reserved

World Views: Jacob’s Ladder & Pollinators

If only we could see the world as wild ones do, would we dare to care?

Jacob’s Ladder is such a dainty beauty in a color I love. Plant it and they will come I’ve heard. That early and still a bit chilly May morning when I first sat with this plant I watched as the tiny bees did make their visits! Not all bees visit all plants. There are over 300 species of bees in CT so getting to know them all is a challenging task, especially with sizes ranging down to so tiny they are hard to distinguish. Yet, they are such an important part of keeping an ecosystem going, and unfortunately, they are declining. To learn more click on the link to “Pollinators in Connecticut” from the DEEP.…/Lear…/Pollinators-in-Connecticut

Some of the visitors to Jacob’s Ladder include honeybees, bumblebees, little carpenter bees, mason bees, cuckoo bees, Halictid bees, Andrenid bees, Giant Bee Fly, butterflies, skippers, moths, and aphids. Think Spring! Plan your gardens with at least some native perennials to enjoy through the changing seasons. Shop native at places like Earth Tones Nursery when they open in the spring or order seeds from such as Prairie Moon where you can see a map of natives for your area.

Explore the Native Plant Trust website where you can find so much information!

This morning I’m sitting at my computer by my second-floor window listening to the Red-shouldered Hawk call in the distance and watching the birds at my bird feeders. There is so much in our immediate area to keep us busy, safe from covid, and distracted from a world that has gone mad which we have little control over. Stay safe and well and enjoy all our blessings.

World Views: Cinquefoil in Ultraviolet

If we could see the world the way the wild ones do, would we dare to care?

Cinquefoil attracts small bees and flies for pollen and nectar. Rabbits, groundhogs, deer, and livestock sometimes visit to nibble on the foliage. Cinquefoil is a member of the Rosaceae, or rose, family. A number of native and non-native species are found in New England.

Natives in New England include: Potentilla canadensis or dwart cinquefoil, P. litoralis or coast cinquefoil, P. norvegica or Norwegian cinquefoil, P. robbinsiana or Robbins’ cinquefoil, and P. simplex or common cinquefoil.

Natives to areas of the United States include: P. gracilis or graceful cinquefoil, P. litoralis or coast cinquefoil, P. norvegica or Norwegian cinquefoil, P. pulcherrima or soft cinquefoil, P. rivalis or brook cinquefoil, and P. simplex or common cinquefoiol.

Non-natives include: P. alba or white cinquefoil, P. anglica or English cinquefoil, P. argentea or silver-leaved cinquefoil, P. inclinata or ashy cinquefoil, P. indica or Indian-strawberry, P. intermedia or downy cinquefoil, P. recta or sulphur cinquefoil, P. reptans or creeping cinquefoil, and P. verna or spring cinquefoil.

Does it matter which you plant? That depends on your intent, food for a pollinator, decorative, or fits your particular habitat and garden plan, and whether a plant turns out to be considered an invasive species in your area.

For images, range maps, and more information on each species visit Go Botany:

The European Honey Bee

European Honey Bee Apis mellifera

Too often we consider this our most important bee without considering that it is a species introduced back in the 1600s. This is the generalist commercial pollinator bee that lives in colonies. The male worker bees have a barbed stinger but die after stinging.

Too Cute to not appreciate for all that they do!

World Views: Insects and People

Polemonium reptans
Jacob’s Ladder
Metallic Green Bee

This year I discovered Jacob’s Ladder. Actually I bought the plant and once the flowers appeared, followed by lots of insects, I fell in love. Just over a foot tall with an abundance of flowers to entice the honeybees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, mason bees, cuckoo bees, Halictid bees, Andrenid bees, Giant Bee Fly, butterflies, skippers, moths, and aphids – of course! Not to shabby an assortment for those tiny flowers.

Polemonium reptans
Jacob’s Ladder
Strong back light

Jacob’s Ladder turned out to be rather pretty when I photographed it against a light box. The details and colors were pretty and a bit elegant for this dainty native wildflower.

Polemonium reptans
Jacob’s Ladder
Ultraviolet Light
What many insects, birds, and mammals see

The Visible Spectrum humans see is very limited in range compared to what other species see. Human sight is in the 380 to 740 nm range while bees are between 300 to 600 range. The ultraviolet light I used was rated at 365nm.

It is always a surprise to see what the plants will look like under ultraviolet light as there is no way of knowing until the image is on the computer. I wore protective yellow eye goggles and had to use a best guess as to how long to shine the UV light and leave the shutter open for.

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