Wild Ideas: Upcoming nature events feature insect pollinators and other “bugs”  

While I’m still trying to keep up with spring as it unfolds, notices of several events featuring pollinators and other “bugs” have been landing in my email inbox:

Get “The Buzz on Bugs” on June 13 at a free Virginia Working Landscapes talk and film, at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal. By Pam Owen

“The Buzz on Bugs” (June 13, 6-8 p.m.): Love bugs, like I do? Virginia Working Landscapes hosts a free lecture and film screening about bugs. Dr. Ashley Kennedy — the creator of the crowd-sourced project “What Do Birds Eat?” and protégé of the renowned author Doug Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants” — discusses the findings of her work studying bird diets.

Afterwards, enjoy a humorous and poignant short documentary, “The Love Bugs,” which explores a couple’s devotion to insects, science and each other as they prepare to donate their life’s work to a museum. The event is free, but registration is required. At the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute auditorium, 1500 Remount Rd., Front Royal. For more information, and to register, go to tinyurl.com/BuzzOnBugs.


A monarch butterfly feeds on the nectars of a purple coneflower in a small pollinator garden at the Jones Nature Preserve, where PEC hosts a free pollinator walk and talk July 11. By Pam Owen

“Bees, Butterflies and Blooms” (July 11, 2-4 p.m.): The Piedmont Environmental Council hosts a walk and talk “on all things pollinator” at Jones Nature Preserve, Washington (VA), led by PEC staff and landowner Bruce Jones. The walk, about a mile along mowed trails, showcases summer flowers, bees, butterflies, birds and habitat restoration projects at the preserve.

I’ve had the pleasure of organizing or participating in nature events at the Jones’ property long before it was a preserve and of getting private tours from Bruce from time to time. I can highly recommend it for its diversity of flora and fauna, particularly pollinators. Bruce has developed a variety of pollinator demonstration plots, from a small garden that could fit in most backyards to acres of naturalized meadow. If you want to know what to plant to attract and help pollinators, this event is a good start. Along with the bugs, and partly because of them, a wide range of native birds also inhabit the property.

PEC advises participants to be prepared to walk and stand for periods of time in the summer heat and recommends wearing boots, long pants and a hat, along with bringing water. Dogs are not permitted on the property. The walk is free, but spots are limited and registration is required. For more information, and to register, go to tinyurl.com/pec-bbb. Directions to the walk’s location will be provided upon registration. To learn more about the preserve, go to jonesnaturepreserve.wordpress.com. The walk will be cancelled in the event of inclement weather.


Young citizen scientists identify butterflies in the fields at Waterpenny Farm during “Kids Count Butterflies” last year. By Dorothy Tepper

“Kids Count Butterflies” (July 13, 10-11:30 a.m.): Old Rag Master Naturalists once again holds this popular, free butterfly count for kids in conjunction with the official Rappahannock butterfly count (see below). Before going out to count, participants are taught about the importance of butterflies and how to identify some common species. The kids also get stickers, snacks and fun! In visiting the event, I noted the excitement of the kids and the friendly, informative interactions between the them and the ORMN hosts. Best for kids six years and over, who must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. At Waterpenny Farm, 53 Waterpenny Lane, Sperryville. Register by sending an email to butterflycount2019@gmail.com.


Like butterflies? Rappahannock’s upcoming annual butterfly count needs volunteers, no expertise required. By Jane Smith

Rappahannock Butterfly Count (July 20, 9 a.m.-early afternoon). This annual North American Butterfly Association count, now in its eighth year, was founded and is managed by Old Rag Master Naturalists. ORMN welcomes volunteers, including coordinators, counters, leaders, photographers and scribes. Each group is led by an expert, so no expertise or prior experience is required. The count meets at Rappahannock County Park, then teams disperse to different areas of the county to count butterflies.

Tracking the health of butterflies, which are not only important pollinators but also are among the insects that produce the larvae that most songbirds depend on to feed their young. Come prepared for heat, sun and biting bugs: wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and sturdy footwear, and bring sunscreen, bug repellent, butterfly binoculars and a camera (if you have them) and plenty of water. The fee to participate is $5. For more information and to preregister, email Kathy Englar at butterflycount2019@gmail.com.

© 2019 Pam Owen

Pam Owen
About Pam Owen 344 Articles
Writer, editor, photographer, and passionate nature conservationist living in Rappahannock County, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Two favorite quotes: By E.O. Wilson, who coined the term "biodiversity," "Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction”; by Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they pass by.”

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