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June 2023 Update

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Fireflies need our help. Please see the short article at the bottom of this page and share it as widely as possible.

Outreach of the month – Add your property to the map.

Doug Tallamy is hosting a challenge to see which state can add the most home habitat to the Homegrown National Park map by June 18. If you have been planting native plants, add your yard now.

*More importantly: Once you do it, tell everyone you know! The key to inspiring action is personal conversations. So start a conversation on NextDoor, Facebook, family text threads, etc – or better yet, boast about it in person.

Yard signs are still available

Speaking of personal conversations: help us pilot our front yard conversation-starter project by putting up one of our signs. Sign up for one here.

Free tree seedlings

Stephanie Johnson of Green Steeze has been coordinating the rescue of native tree seedlings on an ongoing basis and making them available free of charge. Pre-arrange pickup in Manassass with

Other free or low-cost options for trees can be found on the Plant NOVA Trees website.

Free native plant giveaway this Saturday

On Saturday, June 17, 10am-4pm, Bona Terra will be giving away tens of thousands of free native plant seedlings. More details here.

Water your trees!

Our region is six inches behind on rainfall for the year. Adequate watering is especially important for trees that have not yet become established. Trees become established in 1 year for every 1 inch of tree caliper (the trunk diameter six inches above the soil line). In other words, a tree with a two inch trunk will take 2 years to establish. Arlington County has these watering recommendations.

Community mini-grants for native tree rescues in Fairfax County

Does your community association or faith community have native trees at risk from invasive plants? Here is an unusual opportunity to receive funds to jump-start an invasives control program. Fairfax communities can apply now for a $3000 mini-grant from the Audubon-at-Home program, to be matched with $1500, which can include volunteer labor. You can read a general outline and request a pre-application visit here. The money can be used to save native trees that are at risk from any of these threats.

· Invasive non-native vines

· Multiflora Rose

· Tree-of-Heaven, Callery Pear, or Autumn Olive

Zooms in Spanish – please spread the word

Our first talk, by Elisa Meara on reliable native plants, is available on the Spanish playlist of our YouTube channel. Our second talk will be by Patricia Greenberg on invasive plants. Todo sobre las plantas nativas: Zooms en español ¡Gratis! Regístrese para obtener el enlace de Zoom.

· Miércoles 26 de julio, 7-8pm

· Identificación y Remoción the Plantas Invasoras

· Próximamente más fechas

$25 off native trees and shrubs worth $50 or more at Burke Nursery, through June

The Virginia Department of Forestry is piloting a discount program for native trees and shrubs. Burke Nursery is one of three participating garden centers around the state. Purchasers will be asked to register their plantings.

Help celebrate “Celebrate Native Trees Week?” October 2-9

Would you like to do a native tree-related event or promotion that week? Let us know, and we’ll add it to our web page.

Ambitious volunteers needed to help with outreach to corporations

There are many ways in which our corporate neighbors can help our community meet the goals of the native tree campaign. Please help us engage them by joining our corporate outreach team.

Milkweed Sale in Leesburg

Pickup June 24, but preorders strongly recommended.

Report your native tree and shrub plantings

Please help Northern Virginia meet its tree-planting obligations by reporting your tree and shrub plantings here. So far 12,426 have been reported!

Report your tree rescues

Millions of trees are at risk from invasive non-native vines. You can help save them on your own land or by volunteering on public land. So far, 9,562 tree rescues have been reported in Northern Virginia. Please add your report here.

Next Steering Committee meeting – via videoconferencing – All are welcome. Thursday, July 20, 10:00am-noon. Check our Event Calendar for future meetings.

This month’s newsletter article to share – Please use this link for social media.

Inviting fireflies to your yard

When fireflies start their early summer dance, will they pick your yard for their display? Like most insects (and like most vertebrate species except humans and farmed animals), firefly numbers are in a steep decline, but there are steps we can take to foster them on our properties. Taking those steps has far-reaching benefits even beyond the joy of having our own private light shows. What we do to create habitat for fireflies can go a long way toward restoring life to our yards in general.

The first step in creating usable habitat is to plant (and preserve) native plants and trees and to remove invasive non-native plants. This is because most plant-eating insects can only eat the plants with which they evolved. Fireflies don’t eat plants, though, so how does this apply? The answer lies in the food web concept. Predatory insects such as fireflies, dragonflies, ladybeetles, etc, eat the critters that eat the native plants. Sources of native plants for your landscape can be found on the Plant NOVA Natives website.

The next step is to provide shelter and breeding sites. This translates into leaving the dead leaves in place and devoting as much of your yard as you can to natural landscaping. Dead leaves not only are home to many tiny critters including butterfly larvae, they are a welcome addition to landscaped areas, since they protect and nourish the soil. Perennials poke right up between them in the spring.

The third step may seem less intuitive but is understandable once you think about it: reducing outdoor lighting. If fireflies can’t see potential mates blinking, they won’t be able to get together. Light pollution has negative impacts on many other beings as well. Moths exhaust themselves circling around lights. Migrating birds have trouble navigating. We can help by using warm-spectrum LED lights bulbs 3,000 K or less (which don’t attract moths) and by installing motion-detectors, assuming any outdoor lighting is needed at all. Lighting up our properties at night is as rude to our non-human neighbors as playing loud music outdoors is to our human ones, only with more lethal consequences.

The final step is the simplest of all to implement: do not use insecticides outdoors unless there is a dire need, such as a hornet’s nest over the front door. There are many better ways to deal with mosquitoes and ticks. What most people don’t realize is that insecticides (such as sprays for adult mosquitoes) kill all insects, including fireflies, bees, butterflies, crickets, etc, and totally upset the natural balance between predators and prey that is necessary for a healthy garden and ecosystem. Outdoor chemicals in general have many unfortunate consequences for the environment, but the indiscriminate use of insecticides is the most immediately destructive.

Because what is good for them is good for the other inhabitants of our properties, fireflies are the symbol chosen for the Homegrown National Park movement led by famous entomologist Doug Tallamy. His concept is that if we all give sanctuary to fireflies, butterflies, and birds in our yards, it will add up to far more habitat than even the largest of our national parks. If you have been planting native plants, you can add your property to the map and demonstrate your care for the planet, starting right at home:

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