Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Grass is Green ... Right Now

I found out that firefly larvae spend their first year underground.  As I looked out at the lawn where they would be sleeping right now, I noticed the grass in the front lawn is green.  Its blades are poking out of the snow, making a pretty show.  Why does grass stay green?  How does it do this?

Generally we grow cool-season grasses - a mix of full sun and shade species.  These would be fescues, Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass.  We get a dense turf with a deep-green colour that's considered easy on the eyes.  I expect that it is Kentucky bluegrass that is staying green in winter.  I haven't found out how that works.  I would think if the grass is green that means it isn't dormant.

I find out that our nitrogen fertilizers are not really plant food.  Plants make their own food through photosynthesis with the end products being carbohydrates.  That's what is used by plants for energy and growth. 

Are our fertilizers harmful to firefly populations?  We know that chemical pesticides and weed killers are harmful.  Firefly larvae live underground, and they are carnivores.  So if they aren't killed by the pesticides, they are impacted by the poisons in their food.  It has also been observed that the harmful chemicals in pesticides are also found in chemical fertilizers.  So it is thought that even fertilizers are harmful.  So natural fertilizers would be the route to go for fireflies. 

Where do fireflies live in the day?  On the ground, so frequent mowing would disturb the local firefly populations.  Fireflies prefer to live in long grasses, so having some will bring a boost in population.

And of course, native trees are another plant habitat for fireflies.  Pine trees are considered important because they provide shade and low light areas.  They provide litter that is important.  And finally, a pond or stream is also crucial to firefly populations.

Today's image of abstract stars was taken on January 1st in Niagara Falls at the greenhouse gardens. 


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