This past May, I was a part of the Lexington’s 2019 Citizen’s Environmental Academy. The 2019 was the second class to graduate from this program that is offered by the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government Division of Environmental Services.
The program is a year long venture. The first half of the program involves meeting once a month to learn about different aspects of environmental efforts in Lexington. We made several trips to different locations such as the Water Treatment Plant, the LEED certified Lexington Citizen’s Center, McConnell’s Springs, and the Regional Recycling Facility.
The second half of the program involved creating and executing an environmentally focused project. The projects had to follow certain guidelines and deadlines, but the program leaders were open to ideas. We then had to present our project ideas to our class, which in turn received a vote. This vote determined if the project could continue.
UpCycle Bluegrass where efforts were made to teach people how to take common household items and repurpose them into something new instead of throwing them away.
Go See Trees, which was a project dedicated to creating a tree map of historic or significant trees in Lexington. With the debut of the map in May, anyone in Lexington could become involved with a month long interactive contest to see if you could visit all the trees on the map. There was another challenge this past October.
Preston Cave Springs Restoration, aimed to eradicate invasive species such as honeysuckle and winter creeper in a part of this Lexington public park and plant native plants in order to restore beauty and the ecology along this natural spring.
Cane Run Greenway Installation, took efforts to improve a riparian buffer, where the Cane Run stream daylights . Native plants and many trees were planted in this space in order to increase the ecological value of this area and improve stormwater quality. The project implemented one of the Plant By Numbers gardens. Check out the Plant By Numbers program, which EARTHeim created the designs for!
Lastly, the Tree Care Video Guide, is a series of 5 videos created to educate the public on how to take care of their trees. This includes ‘The Value of Trees‘, ‘Right Tree Right Space, ‘Pruning‘, ‘Mulching‘, and ‘Proper Planting‘. This was my project, in which I was the only team member of the academy! The videos were filmed by a student videographer the city was able to provide. Unfortunately, the Right Tree Right Space video has not been posted and I’m unsure why.
In September, GreenCheck Lexington accepted 9 new members into its certification program. This Lexington based program provides resources to local businesses and organizations in order to become more sustainable.
To become certified, businesses follow a scorecard where points can be earned for completing certain tasks. The main categories of these tasks are based on sustainability management, outreach and education, energy efficiency, waste reduction, water conservation, urban forestry/landscapes, purchasing, transportation, and innovative efforts such as installing a green roof. Some tasks are simple such as ‘implement a basic recycling program’, while others like ‘host an environmental focused event’ may take more effort.
To become certified, the business much reach a minimum score to become a Member, and can earn more points to reach higher levels of Bronze, Silver, and Gold if efforts go beyond the minimum. Business can re-certify every 3 years and have a chance to increase their certification level at that time. Learn more about GreenCheck Lexington.
A few ways EARTHeim is a sustainable business:
Other businesses certified in 2019:
Find a full list of certified businesses here.
This year 2019, was the 49th annual Lexington Environmental Awards ceremony. The event awarded 14 environmentally focused people and their projects which have been completed in the city of Lexington in recent years.
Each year the LFUCG Environmental Commission takes nominations for these awards. Year 2020 will be the 50th event! If you are aware of an environmental project or environmental advocate, include your nomination in next year’s pot of nominees.
Awards went to:
EARTHeim created the center pieces to decorate the tables at the event with native plants grown by EARTHeim.
Did you know that most wasp species aren’t aggressive? When we hear ‘wasp’ we tend to think of the aggressive species, living in nests, that swarm us.
Wasp are carnivores, and actually can do a lot to help control pests in our gardens.
Today I saw a blue winged wasp, Scolia dubia, in my yard. It is a non aggressive species that is desirable to have in our yard. It can sting, but only maybe if it is highly threatened.
After reading about it, I learned that the female burrows into soil and lays its eggs on Japanese beetle grubs in the ground, which then eat the grub as the larvae grows and matures.
According to Penn State, this species of wasp especially likes goldenrod and mountain mint, of which I have several large clumps in my yard. So if you’re looking to decrease the Japanese beetle population in your yard, think about planting species of Solidago and Pycnanthemum in your garden.
Every evening as the last rays of sun dwindle down in the sky, I look out from my back patio door. What I see visiting my nicotiana’s every night, looks like a hummingbird, but it’s actually a moth!
Every day at about dusk, a Five Spotted Hawkmoth visits the nicotiana by my back patio. It likes to feed on the nectar from its fragrant, long, white, tubular flowers.
Even while I’m standing right beside it, it doesn’t pay any attention to me watching it. It has really large eyes and a long proboscis in order to get the nectar located down in the tubular flower. The nicotiana is the only flower I’ve seen it feed on in my yard.
There are different species of hawk, or sphinx moths all around the world of the Sphingid family. They are fast flyers and acrobatic too. I see my visitor in my yard whip around the plants and over the fence and back again. Many species can hover in place like a hummingbird. Many species like fragrant light colored flowers, such as nicotiana, four o clocks, or datura.
Not all, but some of these hawk moths are considered pests. And guess what, the Five Spotted Hawkmoth is actually also known as a tomato hornworm! I plant lots of tomatoes every year, and it’s rare that I’ve seen any hornworms on my plants. I saw one in the early summer, but a parasitic wasp took care of the hornworm for me!
These non-stinging parasitic wasps actually look like a type of fly to an untrained eye. The wasp lays its eggs inside the caterpillar to use as a host (as it will do to any species of caterpillar) and the larvae hatches into what looks like bits of rice.
I don’t have an issue with hornworms, so I’m not worried about seeing this hawkmoth in my garden. I’d rather the hornworms be used by the parasitic wasp as its host instead of the monarch or swallowtail caterpillars that are around in my yard too.