9 Great Halloween Crafts

Siloutte of Haloween figures.

photo courtesy of pixabay

by Heather Stone

It’s this time of year when the weather cools down and life begins to move back indoors I get the itch to get crafty. Halloween is the first holiday I really can’t wait to get started on. The crafting possibilities are almost endless when it comes to Halloween. You have pumpkins, bats, witches, ghosts, monsters, spiders, skeletons, mummies and so much more. Where to begin?

We’re only days away from the spookiest holiday of the year so it’s time to get started. Here is a list of some of my favorite Halloween crafts that we love to do year to year.

  1. Paper pumpkins- So simple but always fun. All you need is some orange paper and a pipe cleaner.
  2. Bats galore– A swarm of paper bats flying across the front door, up the stairs or across a wall is sure to send a chill up just about anyone’s spine. Hang them from the trees or the dining room chandelier too.

    Child holding an orange pumpkin with black paper cut-out eyes and grin.

    photo courtesy of pixabay

  3. Haunted Houses- This can be an easy two-dimensional drawing or an elaborate creation from recycled boxes. Let your imagination take the lead. Here’s a template for a fun and easy to create 2D haunted house or if you want to go 3D try making one from a recycled cereal box and place a light inside.
  4. Garlands- ghosts, cats, spiders or whatever spooks you this easy craft is fun for all ages.
  5. Halloween paper bag puppets– We make these every year in some form or fashion. Try making them from paper bags, toilet paper tubes or foam people shapes. They can be as simple or intricate as you like.
  6. Mummy or monster door- this is so easy to do and makes a great decoration indoors or out. Just cover your door in toilet paper or strips of white cloth, add a pair of eyes and your done.
  7. Halloween slime– green, purple filled with spiders, eyeballs, pumpkin guts, glow in the dark. The possibilities are endless.
  8. Pumpkin carving– Halloween wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t the carving or decorating of jack-o-lanterns. There are an endless amount of ideas across the internet. Try something new this year!

Want more Halloween craft ideas? Check out our Pinterest page. It’s filled with fun ideas for all ages to get into the spirit of Halloween.

Skull, candle and jug of bat potion.

photo courtesy of pixabay

 

Pollination Syndrome

by Heather Stone

Did you know that different kinds of pollinators like certain kinds of flowers and are more likely to visit those flowers? Why is this? As both plants and pollinators have evolved over time certain characteristics or traits have developed to help these plants and pollinators interact more successfully. For plants, this means that pollen collected will be carried to another flower of the same kind and successful reproduction occurs. For pollinators, this means the ability to find and access necessary nectar and pollen resources. Pollination syndrome is defined as suites of flower traits that have evolved in response to natural selection imposed by different pollen vectors, which can be abiotic (wind and water) or biotic, such as animals, birds, bees, flies, moths, beetles and butterflies. There is a collection of characteristics that flowers have evolved to better ensure pollination. These include flower shape, color, odor, nectar, pollen, and the presence or absence of nectar guides.

 

What kind of flowers do some of our favorite pollinators prefer? 

 

Bees

Bee-pollinated flowers tend to have a lobe that acts as a landing pad for the bee. The flowers reproductive parts are often located at the top of tubular petals, dusting the back of the bee as it enters. Bumblebees have longer tongues than honeybees and are often drawn to deep, tubular flowers. Bees like brightly colored flowers, especially blues and yellows with a light, fresh scent. Bees can not see the color red so will not visit those flowers. Nectar and pollen need to be abundant and nectar guides are present.Orange Rudbeckia flower.

Cluster of Caltapa flowers hanging from tree branch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds can hover while drinking nectar so require no landing pad. These flowers are usually large and funnel-shaped. The flowers anthers dust the top of the hummingbird as it drinks. Red is the preferred color, but they are also attracted to pink and orange colored flowers as well. These flowers usually have little to no scent. Ample nectar supply is important.

Beetles

Beetles prefer a large bowl-shaped flower such as a magnolia. They simply crawl around the flower looking for nectar and in turn, are dusted by pollen. The flower colors are usually white or green and can range in scent from none to overly fruity. Some beetles are also very attracted to flowers with a strong putrid or rotting flesh smell.  

Single, white Magnolia blossom.

 

Butterflies

Butterflies prefer narrow, tubular flowers with a wide landing pad. They are attracted to brightly colored flowers especially shades of pink, blue, yellow, red and purple with a pleasant floral scent. Ample nectar supply is important and nectar guides are present on these flowers.

Moths

Moths prefer regular or tubular shaped flowers without a lip. These flowers are usually white or dull shades of red, purple or pink. The flowers have a strong scent allowing the moths to locate them at night when they are most active.

A stalk of Yucca blossoms.

 

 

 

Bats

Bats prefer flowers that are regular and bowl-shaped and only open at night when they are feeding. They are usually white, green or purple. These flowers must have an abundant supply of both nectar and pollen.Tall flower stalk of an Agave agains blue sky.

 

 

Flies

What kinds of flowers are flies attracted to? Flies are attracted to those plants with a strong putrid odor resembling the smell of rotten flesh. The flowers are often a purplish color meant to look like the flesh of a rotting animal. They can be shallow and funnel-like or complex and trap-like in shape.

 

 

 

It’s National Pollinator Week

by Heather StoneLogo for pollinator week from pollinator.org.

Eleven years ago the U.S. Senate approved the designation of one week in June as National Pollinator Week to bring attention to the urgent problem of our declining pollinator populations. This year June 18-24th 2018 is National Pollinator Week. There will be many activities to celebrate across the nation and the globe.

 

Want to find a way to get involved? Check out the listing of activities by state at http://pollinator.org/pollinator-week.

 

Here is a sampling of what is happening here in our home state of Colorado.

 

Garfield County is hosting its first annual Pollinator Palooza! There will Pollinator Gardening for Junior Master Gardeners on June 19th. On June 22nd there will be Building Mason Bee Houses for Pollinators.

For more information check out their website. http://garfield.extension.colostate.edu/programs/gardening-horticulture/

 

In Salida, CO, Blessed are the Pollinators Project is working on a collaborative art project involving the making and hanging of 1000 prayer flags for pollinators. Check out their website to see how to get involved. https://www.blessedarethepollinators.com

 

The Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, CO will be celebrating all week long with guided garden tours, arts and games, beeswax candle making, milkweed seed giveaways and more. For the 21 and over crowd there will be a sommelier-led honey tasting & food pairing on the evening of Saturday, June 23rd. Find out at the details on their website at https://www.butterflies.org.  Check out this interview with Butterfly Pavilion’s head beekeeper Mario Padilla at https://cbsloc.al/2K65c16 

 

On June 20th at 6:30 pm the City of Greeley as part of their Landscape Lecture series will be hosting The Native Plants: Bees Butterflies & Beauty class. Discover ways to create beautiful gardens while providing good habitat for bees, butterflies and other wildlife. For more information and to register for the class go to http://greeleygov.com/services/ws/conservation/about/#event|native-plants|14147

 

Bats are beautiful and essential

 

There are so many misconceptions out there about bats. Bats are not evil, blood-thirsty creatures that fly around at night trying to get caught in your hair. They are graceful and fascinating nocturnal creatures, which benefit humans by pollinating plants, dispersing seeds, and feeding on insect pests. In fact, over 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination including mangoes, bananas and guavas, carob, peaches and balsa wood. They are excellent pest managers eating up to 1,200 mosquitoes in one hour and in the wild they can live for up to 20 years.

Worldwide, at least 67 plant families and over 500 species of flowers rely on bats as their major or exclusive pollinators. Bats certainly play an important role in keeping the insect populations in check by eating insects. They consume damaging pests that attack a host of commercial crops. Nectar-feeding bats are also essential pollinators. Bats are often considered “keystone species” that are essential to some tropical and desert ecosystems. Without bats’ pollination and seed-dispersing services, local ecosystems could gradually collapse as plants fail to provide food and cover for wildlife species near the base of the food chain.

Bats are able to pollinate the flowers of plants that have evolved to produce nectar to attract them. When they drink the sweet nectar inside flowers they pick up a dusting of pollen and move it along to other flowers as they feed. Scientists believe that many groups of plants have evolved to attract bats since they are able to carry such large amounts of pollen in their fur compared to other pollinators. The ability of bats to fly long distances is also another benefit to plants, especially those plants that occur in low densities or in areas far apart from each other.

Flowering plants have developed several traits to attract these flying mammals. Bats use sight, smell and echolocation to locate flowers. Many of the flowers that rely on bats for pollination are white or light-colored to show up in the evening and night times. Many of the flowering plants have evolved a strong fruity or musty or rotten perfume. The smell is created by sulfur-containing compounds, which are uncommon in most floral aromas but have been found in the flowers of many plant species that specialize in bat pollination. Some plant species have even evolved acoustic features in their flowers that make the echo of the bat’s ultrasonic call more conspicuous to their bat pollinators enabling them to easily find the flowers in dense growth.
Other interesting stuff!

-Tequila is made from the agave plant, which relies solely on bats to pollinate its flowers and reproduce. Without bats, we would have no tequila.

-Anoura fistulata, a nectar-feeding bat from South America, which has the longest tongue (proportionally) of all mammals. A. fistulata is only the size of a mouse, but its tongue is around 8.5 centimeters long, making it up to 150% of its body length! With such a long tongue it couldn’t possibly keep all of it in its mouth. Instead, A. fistulata keeps the tongue in its chest, in a cavity between the heart and sternum.

-Bats almost exclusively pollinate wild bananas, which originate from Southeast Asia. Bats pollinate many ecologically and economically important plants from around the world. The products that we value from these plants are more than just fruits, including fibers and timbers that we use every day.
-Flying foxes, nectar and fruit-eating megabats from Australia, pollinate the dry eucalyptus forests, which provide us with timber and oils that are shipped around the world.

-Many tropical and sub-tropical rainforest ecosystems also rely on bat pollinators to regenerate. Without nectar-feeding bats not only would our environment suffer, but our way of living as well! Bats are so effective at dispersing seeds into ravaged forest lands that they’ve been called the “farmers of the tropics.” Seeds dropped by bats can account for up to 95 percent of the first new growth.

Bats can be found in almost every part of the world except in extremely hot and cold climates. They live on all continents except Antarctica. You can find more species of bats where the weather is nice and warm. Bats like to roost in groups in dark and humid environments. They also roost in different structures, such as the underside of bridges, in caves, inside roves of buildings, in cracks in between rocks, in mines, and in tree hollows.

Unfortunately, because of human misunderstanding, as well as practices such as habitat destruction and indiscriminate use of pesticides, many bat species are endangered, and some have already gone extinct. In the United States, nearly 40% of the native bat species are endangered.

Click on the links below for more great info!

Info on how to safely & humanely remove a bat from your home:
Build your own Bat House!
Bring a Bat program into your School:
Bat Coloring Pages:

 

7 great reasons to put up some bat houses this weekend.

by Sandy Swegel

Need a project this weekend while you’re waiting for winter to finish. How about building a bat house, or just installing one in the eaves of your house. This is an excellent weekend project and there are lots of great reasons for sharing your property with bats.

7. Bats eat mosquitos. Each bat can eat 500 mosquitos just in the first hour after dark. Think about bats eating all the mosquitos in your backyard or near your grill. That’s 500 fewer possible bites on you!

6. Bats eat bad bugs.
In addition to mosquitos, bats also eat garden pests like rootworms and cucumber beetles.

5. Bats are a lot like us. They are mammals like we are. They have long life spans and can live as long as 40 years. It’s a myth that they are dangerous dirty creatures carrying rabies. They clean themselves constantly (like cats). They don’t bite unless you try to pick them up. Raccoons, skunk and fox are much more likely to have rabies.

4. Bats need our help. Suburban development has wiped out lots of the natural wild habitat of bats. Female bats, like humans, generally only have one baby per season. They need a home to keep their only baby safe and keep the species going. Nearly 40% of American bat species are in severe decline or already listed as threatened or endangered. Spring is bat mating season, so hurry up with the new house.

 

3. Bats make gardener’s gold, i.e. bat guano. Bat poop is an excellent fertilizer. In the days before growing marijuana became legal and high tech, weird hippy guys would come into our garden center every Spring to pay cash for the 50-pound bags of bat guano we ordered every year just for them.

2. Bats give us tequila. Yep, bats are the pollinators for blue agave, the tequila plant! No bats, no new blue agave plants, no summer margaritas.

1. Bats are super cool to watch on summer evenings. You can see bats in the magic hour between sunset and full darkness. They fly erratically in the darkening sky, flitting and diving for insects.

Here’s one link to building your own bat house or you can buy bat-approved houses or bat house kits from Amazon or your local wildlife store.

http://www.batconservation.org/bat-houses/build-your-own-bat-house

 

Bats are Beautiful!

by Cheryl Soldati Clark

There are so many misconceptions out there about bats. Bats are not evil, blood-thirsty creatures that fly around at night trying to get caught in your hair. Bats are graceful and fascinating nocturnal creatures, which benefit humans by pollinating plants, dispersing seeds, and feeding on insect pests. In fact, we have bats to thank for pollinating over 300 species of fruits that we eat, such as, bananas, mangoes and guavas to name a few. These aerial mammals fly from sundown to sunrise, visiting flowers in the darkness and ingesting their sugary nectar and protein-rich pollen. They are also excellent pest managers eating up to 1,200 mosquitoes in one hour. A long-lived mammal, in the wild, bats can live for up to 20 years.

As pollinators, bats are attracted to green, purple and dull white flowers with very fragrant, fruit-like odor. They are also attracted to musky, fermented smelling flowers because they have an excellent sense of smell. They choose to feed on large, bell or bowl-shaped flowers (1-3.5 inches) that are open at night and have copious amounts of dilute nectar. The bat forces its head into the flower, trying to reach the nectar with its long tongue. Several species of night-blooming cacti are perfect candidates for bats to pollinate. Bats may eat the pollen, stamen and anthers of certain flowers while at the same time carrying large amounts of pollen on its face and coarse fur from flower to flower. Bats travel long distances every night thus making them effective cross-pollinators of plants that are widely spaced.

Bats can be found in almost every part of the world except in extremely hot and cold climates. They live on all continents except Antarctica. You can find more species of bats where the weather is nice and warm. Bats like to roost in groups in dark and humid environments.  They also roost in different structures, such as the underside of bridges, in caves, inside buildings, in cracks in between rocks, in mines, and in tree hollows.

Unfortunately, due to disease as well as human misunderstanding, many bat species are endangered and some have already gone extinct. Through the misuse of pesticides and habitat destruction, in the United States alone, nearly 40% of the native bat species are endangered. It is our job as human beings to protect these important pollinators by educating our children, friends and neighbors about the importance of bats and trying to eliminate the fear factor associated with these nocturnal mammals. Pollinator Week is a great time to start!

Great Bat Links:

A great video on how to safely & humanely remove a bat from your home

Build your own Bat House!

Bring a Bat program into your School

Beautiful Bat photos

Bat Facts

 

 

Wildflower Seed

Heirloom vegetable seed

 

Bats are Beautiful!

by Cheryl Soldati Clark

There are so many misconceptions out there about bats. Bats are not evil, blood-thirsty creatures that fly  around at night trying to get caught in your hair. Bats are graceful and fascinating nocturnal creatures, which benefit humans by pollinating plants, dispersing seeds, and feeding on insect pests. In fact, we have bats to thank for pollinating over 300 species of fruits that we eat, such as, bananas, mangoes and guavas to name a few. These aerial mammals fly from sundown to sunrise, visiting flowers in the darkness and ingesting their sugary nectar and protein-rich pollen. They are also excellent pest managers eating up to 1,200 mosquitoes in one hour. A long-lived mammal, in the wild, bats can live for up to 20 years.

As pollinators, bats are attracted to green, purple and dull white flowers with very fragrant, fruit-like odor. They are also attracted to musky, fermented smelling flowers because they have an excellent sense of smell. They choose to feed from large, bell or bowl-shaped flowers (1-3.5 inches) that are open at night and have copious amounts of dilute nectar. The bat forces its head into the flower, trying to reach the nectar with its long tongue. Several species of night-blooming cacti are perfect candidates for bats to pollinate. Bats may eat the pollen, stamen and anthers of certain flowers while at the same time carrying large amounts of pollen on its face and coarse fur from flower to flower. Bats travel long distances every night thus making them effective cross-pollinators of plants that are widely spaced.

Bats can be found in almost every part of the world except in extremely hot and cold climates. They live on all continents except Antarctica. You can find more species of bats where the weather is nice and warm. Bats like to roost in groups in dark and humid environments.  They also roost in different structures, such as, the underside of bridges, in caves, inside buildings, in cracks in between rocks, in mines, and in tree hollows.

Unfortunately, due to disease as well as human misunderstanding, many bat species are endangered and some have already gone extinct. Through the misuse of pesticides and habitat destruction, in the United States alone, nearly 40% of the native bat species are endangered. It is our job as human beings to protect these important pollinators by educating our children, friends and neighbors about the importance of bats and trying to eliminate the fear factor associated with these nocturnal mammals. Pollinator Week is a great time to start!

Great Bat Links:  A great video on how to safely & humanely remove a bat from your home

Build your own Bat House! Bring a Bat program into your School Other Bat links Beautiful Bat photos Bat Coloring Pages

Bat Facts