2021 Tree Steward Symposium, June 24-25

Virtual
Thursday, June 24 and Friday, June 25, 2021
9am – noon both days
Register here.

Don’t miss the chance to collaborate with other tree stewards, hear speakers on the latest tree topics and learn about some of the latest resources available to expand your involvement in community outreach.

See the agenda here.

FMN Chapter Meeting: Native Bees, June 21

Augochloropsis metallica, a species of sweat bee; photo: USGS

Monday, June 21, 2021
7 – 9pm
Zoom

This chapter meeting will include the graduation ceremony for the Spring 2021 Basic Training Class.

Deana Crumbling will provide a presentation about native bees. Deana worked as a chemist with the U.S. EPA for 21 years and retired in 2019 to start a one-person business offering analysis of lead and arsenic in soil. She volunteered with the U.S. Geological Survey to learn how to identify native bees and watches bees in her suburban yard which has been converted to native habitat.

Please email Janet Quinn at vmnfairfax@gmail.com to receive the link.

3rd Annual Mount Vernon District Environmental Expo, June 26th

Photo courtesy of Environment Expo

Fort Hunt Park
8999 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria VA
Saturday, June 26, 2021
8am – Noon
Reserve your FREE ticket today!

This FREE Family Friendly Event will include: Exhibitors, Workshops, Live Music, Live Reptile and Owl Programs, Electric Vehicles, Nature Walks, Junior Ranger Program, Touch-a-Truck Recycling, History Tours, Purple Glass Monster (bring your glass recycling for drop off!), Food Trucks and more!

This year’s event will be held in partnership with the National Park Service. The event will educate and inform local residents on environmental challenges that they face on a daily basis, including ones that are unique to the Mount Vernon area. Attendees will leave the Expo with simple actions they can take to make an impact on climate change and our environment.

This event will adhere to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols in place on June 26. In order to meet any outdoor event size limits, pre-registration is recommended. If COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, walk-ups without registration will be permitted. Please visit the Expo registration site to reserve your FREE ticket today!

EnviroPod: Fairfax County’s Nifty Podcast on All Things Environmental

Adapted from the Public Works and Environmental Services website

The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services helps residents learn how to support the county’s environmental efforts. In 2019, DPWES launched monthly EnviroPod episodes, which air from Apple Podcasts.

Scott Coco of Communications Productions, Fairfax County has now interviewed county leaders on 27 topics of interest to naturalists and gardeners. Here’s a selection of particular relevance to the Fairfax chapter:

Episode 22 – Food-Scraps-to-Compost Program with Christine McCoy

Fairfax County’s EnviroPod

Christine McCoy, Education and Outreach Specialist, Solid Waste Management Program, talks about the new food-scraps-to-compost program. Residents are welcome to bring their food scraps to two locations in the county: the I-66 Transfer Station on West Ox Road; or the I-95 Landfill Complex in Lorton. More information is available on the county website.

Episode 19 – Stream and Watershed Health with Shannon Curtis

Fairfax County’s EnviroPod

Shannon Curtis, Chief, Watershed Assessment Branch, Public Works and Environmental Services, talking about human activity on the land and how that affects stream and watershed health.

To send topic ideas to the county, email SWPDMail@FairfaxCounty.gov.

Cicadas! Cicadas Everywhere!

Article and photo by FMN Ana Leilani Ka’ahanui, also of Capital Nature

What’s that late spring, early summer buzz, that loud chorus in the trees, all over the DC metro area? The 17-year periodical cicadas have made their entrance, to the fascination and delight of nature lovers in our region. While some may fear the emergence of a billion insects, many are reveling in this natural wonder, as evidenced by the explosion of cicada photos on social media. There’s even a phone app for reporting sightings. Cicada Safari will record and track your discoveries on a live map, and help scientists collect valuable data.

Want to learn what the fuss is all about? Visit Cicada Mania for everything you need to know about the 3 periodical species of Brood X: Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassini and Magicicada septendecula. And great radio programming by WAMU’s environmental reporter Jacob Fenston. While most cicadas have red eyes, did you know that some have white, gray, blue, or multi-colored eyes? Learn more fun facts like this by playing Brood X Bingo.

As the ground is now well above 64 degrees, Brood X is emerging to climb trees and plants to molt, then head to the treetops for some raucous partying to mate. Females lay their eggs in trees and the nymphs will later drop onto the ground, where they will burrow down and live till the next emergence party in 17 years. Their life cycle is a short 5-6 weeks and has been documented in this Return of the Cicadas video.

Dr. Michael Rapp is an entomologist at the University of MD and an excellent local authority on cicadas. Check out his media appearances at The Bug Guy. The New York Times covered all things cicada in great detail in this article. USDA entomologist Dr. Sammy Ramsey explains the science behind their loud calls. If you’re feeling adventurous, here’s a Washington Post article about recipes for cooking them.

Cicadas can be artists too. During the recent global City Nature Challenge, Teresa Leonardo discovered that cicadas had burrowed tunnels under some tarps in her yard in West Falls Church, VA in their effort to emerge. See their intricate patterns on iNaturalist.

According to the National Wildlife Federation: “Cicadas are mostly beneficial. They prune mature trees, aerate the soil, and once they die, their bodies serve as an important source of nitrogen for growing trees. When cicadas come out, they’re eaten by just about anything with an insectivorous diet.” As nature’s grand buffet, these curious creatures are providing entertainment and education for all ages.

City Nature Challenge: the results are in!

Article by FMN Ana Leilani Ka’ahanui & Stella Tarnay, both of Capital Nature

Nature nerds celebrate! The results are in for the global City Nature Challenge and our region rose to the occasion again. Out of 419 cities in 44 countries, the DC Metro Area ranked:

• 2nd for observers: 2,002
• 2nd for observations: 43,295
• 8th for species: 2,977

How did Fairfax County do? 11,916 iNaturalist observations of 1,610 species were made by 488 observers. There were 588 people that lent their expertise to make identifications. These results were an improvement over 2020 where 7,750 observations were made of 1,249 species by 391 observers. There were 10 more identifiers last year at 598. See the top ten species identified in Fairfax this year.

Capital Nature along with dozens of area partner organizations hosted over 30 virtual and in-person trainings and events, culminating in a virtual ID Party and a Celebration. Participants shared their favorite discoveries including unexpected flower sightings, five distinct sightings of hog-nosed snakes, a persnickety groundhog and alien-like eggs of a Spiny Assassin Bug. We’re pleased to say that the native mayapple topped the list as the no. 1 species observation, leaving the invasive garlic mustard far behind. For details on all the species that were discovered, visit the project on iNaturalist.

NVCT Kayak Cleanup, June 13th

Hunting Creek watershed adjacent to I-495
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Two sessions: 10am – Noon OR 11am – 1pm
Each participant must register.

Help Northern Virginia Conservation Trust clean up the Hunting Creek watershed adjacent to Interstate 495! The trash and debris that pile in from the Potomac River and Cameron Run harms the environment and hinders outdoor activity around the area. They hope you’ll jump in a kayak or canoe and join them for their annual cleanup. Kayak rentals are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Blue Ridge PRISM Summer Invasive Plant Workshops (Virtual)

Dates to choose from: Saturday, June 12, 2021 (1:00 – 4:00 pm) OR
Thursday, June 24, 2021 (9:00 am – 12:00 pm)
Registration required.

Blue Ridge PRISM’s Summer Invasive Plant Workshop will enable you to learn how to confidently identify and manage invasive plants best identified and controlled during the summer months. Blue Ridge PRISM’s workshops are being conducted virtually and contain the same content as in-person workshops except that the outdoor elements will be conducted when it is safe to do so.

Topics covered in this session include:
Identifying invasive plants
Which invasives you can best kill now
Which invasives you should treat later
Best seasonal practices for each invasive
Using manual & mechanical control methods
Methods for controlling invasives with herbicides
Choosing the right herbicide and equipment, and using it properly
Planning a work schedule with best timings for multiple plants

Native Plant Sales are Booming

Article and photo by Plant NOVA Natives

Interest in using native plants in our yards has been growing over the past decade, gradually at first, and suddenly exponentially. It has long been known that native plants are critical to the ecosystem, and now thought leaders in the landscaping industry have taken up the cause of promoting them for our yards. Public gardens have set aside sections to demonstrate their value in the landscape, and gardening magazines are touting them in every edition. Garden centers have responded to the increase in demand for natives by increasing the diversity of plants available for sale.

When COVID struck last year, new gardeners flocked to garden centers in droves. As the country has started to open up this spring, sales have soared even higher. A very significant chunk of those increases has gone toward native plant purchases. The landscape designers and owners of garden centers that specialize in native plants have been exhausting themselves to keep up with the demand.

Why are native plants so particularly popular? We may be reaching a tipping point in acceptance of personal environmental responsibility, as the populace is finally facing the reality that our ecosystem is teetering in the balance and that the time to take action is now. Our own properties are a place where we can make a palpable difference by using locally native plants to support birds and other wildlife. Many of the new gardeners are younger and particularly attuned to the value of gardening not just for beauty but for a greater purpose. At the same time, the industry has had time to experiment with native plants and figure out where they do best in a landscape setting. It is now easy to find the plants and choose the ones best suited to a given landscaping need.

Several years ago, representatives of environmental organizations and governmental agencies got together to create Plant NOVA Natives, a campaign to promote the use of native plants in Northern Virginia. One strategy has been to provide a plant guide and resources on the Plant NOVA Natives website, with simple suggestions for every planting situation along with more details for those who are interested and even more details for landscape professionals. The other strategy has been to essentially deputize everyone who hears about the value of native plants to spread the word. One section of the website shows how to reach out to neighbors, community associations and faith communities. The website also lists the garden centers that only sell native plants – an introduction to three of those specialty nurseries is on this short video – as well as twenty-one conventional garden centers where volunteers for the campaign have been putting red “Northern Virginia Native” stickers on plants.

All in all, Northern Virginians are discovering that gardening to support nature has never been easier. Once healthy landscaping practices are adopted, the sight of a yard dancing with butterflies is enough to sell the native plant concept all by itself.

George Mason University Greenhouse & Gardens Program Online Market

Photo courtesy of green.gmu.edu

It’s time to plant your garden! Get started by purchasing seedlings from your local student gardening club.

They have organic tomatoes, peppers, medicinal and culinary herbs, and edible flowers. All proceeds go to the Greenhouse & Gardens Program, which provides educational and volunteer opportunities in sustainable agriculture for students and the community at large.

Go to go.gmu.edu/ggstore to view the Greenhouse & Gardens’ secure George Mason University online marketplace store. You can pay online and choose your contactless pick-up time or stop by our greenhouse to browse the plants and pay cash.

The Seedling Sale lasts until everything is gone!