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Beneficial Insects

Beneficial Insects

You may have heard some "buzz" lately about beneficial insects, but do you know what insects are included in this category, what they look like, and how to attract them? Attracting beneficial insects to your garden, as well as your landscape, is a great way to increase plant health and productivity naturally without the use of harmful chemicals. Below are a few of, but definitely not all of, the insects that are beneficial to have around.

Ladybugs

Both juvenile ladybugs (pictured left above) and adult ladybug beetles (pictured right above) are great to have around your landscape and garden plants. Both the adult and larval ladybug fall into the “predatory insect” category of beneficial insects and will eat a wide variety of insect pests including aphids, mites, white flies, leaf hoppers, mealy bugs, scale insects, and various other types of soft-bodies insects.

Ladybug eggs, which are yellow and oval shaped and found in clusters, typically hatch within 3-5 days. The hatched larvae will feed voraciously on insect pests for up to 3 weeks before they pupate into adults. The ladybug has a very hardy appetite and is capable of consuming up to 60 aphids per day and as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime! Within a single growing season, there can be as many as 6 generations of ladybugs. In the fall, adult ladybugs hibernate in plant litter and crevices such as the bark of a fallen log. The ladybugs search (often in large groups) for a place to stay protected from cold winter temperatures.

Tips for attracting ladybugs:

  • In addition to insect pests, ladybugs also require a source of pollen for food. Ladybugs are attracted to plants such as fennel, cilantro, dill, caraway, tansy, and other umbrella-shaped flowers.
  • Provide cover, especially in the fall. Leave fallen leaves and any rotting logs lay over winter when possible. You can also provide a man-made habitat like the Better Gardens Deluxe Beneficial Insect House.
  • Provide a constant water source. Fill a shallow dish with a layer of pebbles or small rocks and add water to cover the bottom half of the rocks.
  • Limit the chemicals used in your garden and landscape or practice organic pest control. The majority of these chemicals kill most insects indiscriminately, making it impossible for beneficial insects like ladybugs to live in your garden. They also deplete the insect’s natural food source.
  • Resist the urge to squish bugs and eggs you find in the garden until you can research and be certain that they are not beneficial.

Lacewings

Adult lacewings (pictured right above) have long slender bodies with large delicately veined transparent wings that look somewhat like lace – hence the name. While lacewing adults typically feed on the nectar from plants, juvenile lacewings (pictured left above) are very voracious predators. Nicknamed the “aphid lion” due to their hooked jaw and ferocious appetite, the lacewing larvae will devour any plant pest that it can get between its pincers. These pincers allow the larvae to capture and drain the body fluids of its prey. The adult female lacewing lays roughly 300 eggs, and each developing larva can eat up to 10,000 insect pests in its lifetime – pests such as aphids, thrips, spider mites (especially red spider mites), whitefly, and other soft-bodied insects!

Tips for attracting lacewings:

  • The adult lacewing requires pollen and nectar for food and are attracted to many of the same plants as ladybugs such as fennel, cilantro, dill, caraway, tansy, and other umbrella-shaped flowers.
  • Provide shelter like the Better Gardens Beneficial Insect House for the adult lacewings.
  • Provide a constant water source. Fill a shallow dish with a layer of pebbles or small rocks and add water to cover the bottom half of the rocks.
  • Limit the chemicals used in your garden and landscape or practice organic pest control. The majority of these chemicals kill most insects indiscriminately, making it impossible for beneficial insects like lacewings to live in your garden. They also deplete the larvae’s natural food source.
  • Resist the urge to squish bugs and eggs you find in the garden until you can research and be certain that they are not beneficial.

Solitary Bees

There are over 140 different species of solitary bees across North America. Unlike honeybees, solitary bees live independently and do not have a hive. These small bees are wonderful to have around your landscape and garden. Solitary bees are very docile and will only sting when trapped or pinched (The male mason bee doesn’t even have a stinger!). These hard-working bees are power pollinators capable of pollinating up to 10 times (Mason bee: pictured right above) and 20 times (Leafcutter bee: pictured left above) the flowers as a honeybee!

In nature, solitary bees prefer to lay their eggs in an array of natural cavities such as hollow stems, woodpecker holes, and even holes made by other insects. Since these bees are unable to excavate their own nesting cavities, they are just as happy to also use materials you can provide for them such as wood blocks with pre-drilled holes, untreated paper straws, or a pre-fabricated insect house like the Better Gardens Pollinator House. The female bee will travel from flower to flower connecting pollen to pack in the tubular cavities. She then backs into the tunnel and deposits an egg onto the pollen stash, which will serve as the young’s first meal when it hatches. The last step to the process (and where these bees get their name) varies slightly between species. The mason bee gathers mud and use it to build a wall to seal off the egg into its own chamber and keep it safe until it hatches. The leafcutter bee uses small pieces of leaf to seal of the egg chambers.

Tips for attracting solitary bees:

  • Provide them with suitable nesting cavities like any of the Better Gardens Beneficial Insect Houses. Make sure the nest structure is firmly mounted roughly 4-7 feet off the ground where it will receive morning sun (south or east sides are usually best), is protected from the elements.
  • Plant a pollinator friendly habitat. It is best to place a suitable nest structure within 200-300 feet of pollen-rich plants. For a list of native plants for your area, visit http://pollinator.org and enter your zip code.
  • For Mason Bees - make sure that there is a source of mud close to the nest structure.
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Celebrate Earth Day This Year By Installing a Bat House!

Celebrate Earth Day This Year By Installing a Bat House!

April 22nd is Earth Day! To celebrate this year, consider installing a bat house.

Insectivorous bats are capable of eating up to their own body weight in insect pests each night, helping to keep your yard free of a variety of pesky insects including mosquitoes. These same “pest control services” also help keep a multitude of crops healthy by eating the insects that feed on them. By limiting insect damage to crops, and decreasing the amount of pesticides farmers must use to keep crops healthy, scientists have estimated that bats are worth more than $3.7 billion a year to the agriculture industry alone. Bats also join birds, bees, and butterflies on the list of pollinators, pollinating hundreds of plants across the world and accounting for a number of the many foods we enjoy. In fact, bats are considered a “keystone species” in certain tropical and desert ecosystems where their pollinating and seed-dispersing activities are essential to the continuation of the food supply so many other animals depend on. 

Bats reproduce slowly, with females of most species giving birth to just one pup each year. Therefore, population recovery from any serious losses can be painfully slow and it is difficult to identify significant declines in the species until the situation has become dire. In North America, over 5.7 million bats have been killed by a disease called White-nose Syndrome (WNS). First spotted in a cave in Upstate New York back in 2006, this disease has since spread at a staggering rate. Scientists have predicted that the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), once extremely common, will be reduced to just 1% of its population numbers by 2030 without serious intervention and protection. Altogether there are currently 9 species of bat in North America alone that have been identified with diagnostic symptoms of White Nose Syndrome.

*Confirmed: Bat species identified with diagnostic symptoms of WNS in North America:

    • Big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) (Blehert et al. 2009)
    • Eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii)
    • Gray bat (Myotis grisescens) *endangered
    • Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) *endangered
    • Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) (Blehert et al. 2009)
    • Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) (Blehert et al. 2009)*threatened
    • Tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) (Blehert et al. 2009)
    • Cave bat (Myotis velifer)
    • Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii)

 (*whitenosesyndrome.org)

One of the easiest things you can do immediately to help the struggling bat population is to install a suitable home for them in your yard. Bat houses can be installed on a building or on a post. While research suggests that bat attractants and lures will not attract bats, there are several factors that will certainly help. One such factor is a suitable location - houses installed on buildings or poles have a much higher occupancy rate than those installed on trees. Planting a bat garden can also help to ensure that bats have the proper environment to thrive. Possibly the biggest attractant for bat occupancy are well-designed and well-constructed bat houses.

In addition to installing a house, below is a list of what you can do to help. For this list and additional information on WNS, visit www.whitenosesyndrome.org .

  • Stay out of caves and mines where bats are known - or suspected - to hibernate in all states.
  • Honor cave closures and gated caves.
  • Take a look at 'Human Spread of White-Nose Syndrome: Why Decontamination is Important' poster.
    • Stay out of all hibernation sites when bats are hibernating (winter).
    • Report unusual bat behavior to your state natural resource agency, including bats flying during the day when they should be hibernating (December through March) and bats roosting in sunlight on the outside of structures. More difficult to tell is unusual behavior when bats are not hibernating (April through September); however, bats roosting in the sunlight or flying in the middle of the day is unusual. Bats unable to fly or struggling to get off the ground is also unusual.
    • Reduce disturbance to natural bat habitats around your home (e.g., reduce outdoor lighting, minimize tree clearing, protect streams and wetlands).
    • If bats are in your home and you don't want them there, work with your local natural resource agency to exclude or remove them without hurting them after the end of the maternity season (see below for more information). The best time to exclude bats is when they aren’t in your home.
    • Visit websites for organizations like Bat Conservation International
    • Attend educational programs or events celebrating bats, e.g.,
      • Indiana Bat Festival
      • Bat Fest, Austin, Texas
    • Some states and organizations sponsor bat emergence counts or other activities. Contact your state natural resource agency or local conservation groups for opportunities.
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Nature's Way Beneficial Insect House Selected for March's "Retailer Picks" in Hardware Retailing Magazine!

Nature's Way Beneficial Insect House Selected for March's "Retailer Picks" in Hardware Retailing Magazine!

Nature's Way Deluxe Beneficial Insect House is featured in this month's edition of Hardware Retailing magazine! The house is featured in the magazine's monthly "Retailer Picks", where retailers select and share their favorite new products.

 "The Beneficial Insect House is a great way to garden without requiring pesticides and chemicals. It attracts beneficial insects that keep the garden in bloom." -Mark Armstead, Beisswenger's Hardware

The Better Gardens Deluxe Beneficial Insect House allows homeowners to naturally maintain and improve the health of the plants in their yard, landscape or garden by attracting insects. The multi-chamber design attracts the largest variety of beneficial insects, including mason bees, leafcutter bees, lacewings, ladybugs and more. The house is made of rot-resistant premium cedar and has an easy-mount hanger and an easy-clean chamber to customize chamber contents and easily clean out unwanted pests.

 

 

You can find an electronic copy of this month's edition here: http://www.hardwareretailingarchive.com/i/789999-mar-2017

Visit our Beneficial Insect Houses page for more information on our beneficial insect houses and how they can improve the health of your garden and landscape.

 

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2017 Spring Into Savings!

2017 Spring Into Savings!

In appreciation of our continued retailer support, Nature’s Way would like to offer exclusive Spring Into Savings discounts on your store's next order.

  • Order Period: 2/1/17 - 2/29/17
  • Ship Period: 3/1/17 - 4/1/17
  • 10% Discount: Order amount $500 -$999
  • 15% Discount: Order amount $1,000 & above 

How to order:

  • Electronic orders may be placed by sending to:
  • orders@natureswaybirds.com
  • Fax orders to: (216) 274-9636
  • Or call Cheryl at (440) 554-6166 

For any questions, or for more information, contact info@natureswaybirds.com

Nature’s Way Bird Products, LLC

Committed to bringing wildlife back to your yard in a sustainable, enriching, and enjoyable way --- just like nature intended!

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Cleaning Your Bird Feeders

Cleaning Your Bird Feeders

 

Why clean feeders?

Even in the colder winter months, it is important to clean your bird feeders on a regular basis to prevent the buildup of bacteria that can cause disease. Feeders can sometimes be even busier during the winter months with the influx of migrating birds and as inclement weather makes other natural food sources harder to come by. No matter what type of feeder or type of food you provide, cleaning birdfeeders is an easy way to keep your backyard flock healthy year-round and avoid spreading diseases among birds. Dirty feeders allow the seed to spoil and harbor mold and bacteria. Rancid seed can attract unwanted wildlife such as mice, rats, raccoons, and insects. Spoiled seed can cause wood decay and difficulty in cleaning the feeder which may cause additional damage. Caked seed can clog feeding ports, hinges and other parts causing it to crack, warp or break. Feeders should be cleaned 1-2 times a month depending on its frequency of use. Clean birdfeeders and feeding areas will attract more birds and keep all backyard birds healthier for you to enjoy!

Feeder Cleaning Tips

Nature’s Way Bird Products has made maintaining clean feeders easier with our innovative and patented bird products! 

Our Bamboo and Cedar Series feature feeders with the patented Fresh Seed™ tray. The Fresh Seed™ tray keeps seed fresh by allowing water to drain and air to flow freely. When necessary, the rust-free seed tray lifts out easily for quick and thorough cleanings.

 

 

Nature’s Way Bird Products’ Twist&Clean™ Series features tube feeders using the innovative and patented Twist&Clean™ technology. Simply twist and pull to remove the feeder’s base, ports, perches, and Even-FeedTM baffles. These tube feeders are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning of the entire feeder. 

 

 

If you should choose not to use the dishwasher for cleaning the Nature’s Way Bird Products' feeders, or for feeders that cannot be washed in the dishwasher, feeders can be sanitized with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water, or with a mild solution of unscented dish detergent and warm water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with water and let dry completely before refilling. Washings can be less frequent if you give your feeder a quick cleaning every time the feeders are refilled: scrape, dump, or shake out any seed clumps and excess debris before refilling the feeder.

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Feeding Tips

Feeding Tips

To maximize the number of species that visit your yard, keep a variety of feeders filled, offer multiple seed types, and feed year-round. 

Nature’s Way Bird Products offers many styles of bird feeders (Cedar, Bamboo, Twist&Clean, and Nectar) for various types of seeds and feed, and many of our feeders offer spacing that will attract larger birds to your backyard.  Always offer quality seed in your feeders to increase the number and variety of birds with less wasted seed.  Store extra seed in a clean, dry container and always check for mold before placing in the feeder.  Also consider gardening and landscaping, including water features or birdbaths, to duplicate natural habitats as a way to entice birds to visit your yard throughout the seasons. 

 What type of seed/feed?

While birds sometimes surprise us with their seed/food choices, the seed listed below typically attract these birds:

  • Mixed seeds: Cardinals, Grosbeaks, Titmice, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Finches, Jays, Juncos
  • Sunflower: Cardinals, Grosbeaks, Titmice, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Juncos
  • Thistle (Nyger): Finches, Siskins
  • Suet Cake: Woodpeckers, Jays, Titmice, Chickadees, Nuthatches
  • Nectar: Hummingbirds, Orioles
  • Grape Jelly/Orange halves:  Orioles
  • Mealworms:  Bluebirds, Wrens, Chickadees
  • Peanuts:  Jays, Woodpeckers
  • Chopped apples/dried fruit:  Woodpeckers, Mockingbirds, Catbirds, Robins

Where should I place my Nature’s Way feeder?

The best way to determine where most birds prefer to have their dinner in your yard is by experimenting.  Here are a few things to consider:

  • Placing your feeder (Cedar) near natural cover (such as trees, shrubs, and other vegetation) provides nearby shelter for birds to view their feeding area so they can see any predators while waiting for their turn to feed.  Many birds like to bring the seed to a safe area to eat it.  But be careful not to put your feeder too close as it can provide cats with ambush spots and jump-off points to catch birds, as well as squirrels easier access to the feeders!  It is best to keep the feeder about 10-12 feet from any tree or obstacle.
  • Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may help you attract more birds to your yard.  The bright colors and seeds of flowers attract many birds, such as finches and hummingbirds (Nectar).
  • Consider placing your birdfeeder (Bamboo) in quiet, yet convenient, areas sheltered from wind, rain and snow so the birds in your yard can feel safe and comfortable while they eat, and you won’t mind filling it in bad weather!  The south side of the house is generally the warmest, but areas buffered by trees and shrubs also offer good placement areas.
  • You will want to place the feeder (Twist&Clean) so you can observe the birds through a window or from your outdoor living spaces, but you will want to consider the “mess” factor!  When feeding birds there will be feathers, seed shells, and droppings. 

When initially putting up a new feeder, be patient!  Birds are creatures of habit and may not take to a new feeder right away.  But once they find it, you will enjoy many hours of bird watching!

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Are you ready for hummingbird season?

Are you ready for hummingbird season?

Hummingbirds will come eagerly to feeders stocked with sugar water. Once found, they will learn to seek out this rich food even if the location or appearance of the feeder is changed.

The tried and true formula for hummingbird food is simple: about one part white granulated sugar to four parts water. Boil the water for approximately 2 minutes, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve thoroughly. Cover and allow to cool before using or pouring into a clean storage bottle. We do not recommend adding red dye to the nectar mixture. 

A large batch of nectar can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. This makes refilling the feeder easy so you won't mind doing it every few days.

You must change the nectar frequently - at least twice a week. The need to change the nectar depends on the temperatures, where the feeder is hung, and number and frequency of hummingbirds feeding at your feeder. If the birds are not emptying your feeder between cleanings, it's unnecessary and wasteful to fill it completely. Fill only with the amount of nectar they will consume in a few days. Over time you will get a feel for how much nectar to put in the feeder. If you notice that the nectar is turning milky, or that white strings or black spots are growing in it, change it more often.

In order to be a responsible host, you must keep your feeder clean and full of fresh nectar. Every four or five days take down your feeder and discard any unconsumed sugar water. Take apart your feeder and flush with hot tap water – a little vinegar can be added to the water to help prevent mold from becoming established. Visually inspect the feeder for black mold. If mold is present, place all parts in dishwasher for a thorough cleaning. A pipe cleaner or small brush will be needed to pre-clean the stainless steel tubes of the bottom-fill feeders prior to placing in the dishwasher or when washing the feeder parts by hand.

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Nature’s Way Bird Products is Taking Flight!

We have been busy behind the scenes over here- our first months of operation have been exciting and met with great reception! We’ve heard time and again from folks who are thrilled to have finally found a line of bird products they know will last and will bring wildlife to their yards.  Nature’s Way Bird Products has also been on the move showcasing our innovative bird products at a recent Bradley Caldwell, Inc. (BCI) Show and developing partnerships with independent and small chain retailers to bring our line of bird products to you!

As a new manufacturer of bird products, we know that our innovative designs and superior quality is what sets us apart. That's why we're thrilled to hear that Birding Business Magazine agrees! Check out their profile of Nature’s Way Bird Products here, highlighting our innovative designs and materials. They recognize that as new player in the industry, our products stand out as durable, attractive, and easy to clean.

Want to check out our products for yourself? Watch for Nature’s Way Bird Products at specialty bird product stores as well as lawn and garden retailers near you!

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Introducing Nature's Way Bird Products

What began almost 30 years ago as a learning experience for the owners’ children, grew into a lasting family hobby and deep appreciation for birding. Through the intervening years, the family learned valuable birding lessons and gained great personal experience. With 30 years of sales and marketing expertise under their belts paired with a true love of birding, research, prototypes, and field testing soon followed.  Consulting with independent store owners, park district naturalists, birders, and business professionals across the country, a new line of birdfeeders and birdhouses were developed, and Nature’s Way Bird Products was born!

Nature’s Way Bird Products currently has 15 patents and 7 trademarks pending that offer the most innovative designs and superior quality in the industry.  These include the Twist & Clean™ and  Even-Seed™ technologies featured in our Sunshine Series tube feeders; Fresh Seed™ trays featured in our Bamboo and Cedar Series feeders; and the Easy Fill & Clean™ Nectar Series feeders. 

Other innovations of Nature’s Way Bird Products include;

  • First bird products manufacturer to use durable solid Cross-Ply™ bamboo in birdfeeders and birdhouses for years of guaranteed strength and stability;
  • Slide Connect™ horizontal tube feeders to maximize vertical hanging space with multiple feeders;
  • Unique seed diverters in our wood feeders;
  • 6-sided tube feeders that have 30% - 50% more ports and allow for viewing more birds;
  • Ease-of-cleaning features in all of our birdfeeders and birdhouses.

Nature’s Way Bird Products’ birdhouses feature increased numbers of air vents, predator guards, fledgling skerfs, elevated mesh floors, as well as easy-open clean out doors.

Nature’s Way Birds Products is again an industry leader by backing their innovative products with the best warranties in the industry: Lifetime on the Sunshine Series and Nectar Series feeders; and the only warranties in the industry on wood feeders and houses, with 5 years on Cedar Series and 10 years on Bamboo Series.

Nature’s Way Bird Products’ innovative, industry-leading designs address the issues of the bird feeding community and the needs of the independent specialty store owners, consumers, and, most importantly, the birds!

Nature’s Way Bird Products’ birdhouses and birdfeeders are sold only through independent and small chain retailers across the country.  Retailers can purchase products directly from Nature’s Way Bird Products at www.natureswaybirds.com and a variety of distributors.  For more information about Nature’s Way Bird Products, go to their website or call 440-554-6166. 

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Why Bamboo?

We've been at this for nearly 30 years, enjoying the beauty and intrigue of birds in our own backyard.  We know first-hand the importance of high-quality materials for feeders and houses and that’s why bamboo was an obvious choice!  Bamboo is among the most durable and sustainable materials and we bring that quality to you through Nature’s Way Bird Products feeders and houses. 

Bamboo is strong and your feeders and houses will stand the tests of weather, rodents, insects and fire.  The tensile strength of solid Cross-ply™ bamboo is comparable to steel, and its’ crush strength is greater than concrete.  Solid Cross-Ply™ bamboo does not warp, swell, and shrink like most other woods and has superior resistance to backyard pests.

Bamboo is sustainable and you can feel good knowing you’ve purchased a feeder or house made of the most rapidly renewable resource on the planet.  Did you know that bamboo can be harvested every 4-6 years compared to a 40-60 year growth cycle for most hardwoods?  Plus a stand of bamboo can generate 200 poles in five years – the same length of time it takes one tree of a fast-growing hardwood species to grow big enough to cut down.

Bamboo is an environmentally sound choice.  Bamboo’s root structure and grass-like features stabilize the soil reducing erosion.  It retains water in the watershed while using little for growth, reduces runoff, sustains riverbanks, and helps mitigate water pollution due to its intake of nitrogen.  Because the original plant is not damaged when harvested, it can be replenished with virtually no impact to the environment – no tilling to replant and  little or no pesticides or fertilizers to grow.  In fact, when compared with an equivalent stand of trees, bamboo takes in 5 times the amount of greenhouse gases and produces 35% more oxygen.

Bamboo is an incredibly versatile material, having been used to make furniture, weapons, tools, water-bearing systems, building structures, clothing from the fibers, and as a food source.  It’s no wonder Nature’s Way Bird Products is using this ‘green’ product for our birdhouses and birdfeeders!

Bamboo is the most environmentally sound plant in the world – sustainable, cost effective, and ecologically responsible!

 

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