Tips of the Month

Pollinator Conservation in our Community

Pollinators provide critical contributions by helping to produce seeds and fruit for people and other animals. Although many people think of honey bees when they think about pollinators, honey bees are managed livestock that are not native to the U.S. However, there are many native pollinators, including over 400 species of harmless bees and 150 species of butterflies native here in Maryland. The number of many pollinators has declined due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change. Fortunately, there are simple steps that can be taken to conserve native pollinators. Create Habitats That Support Pollinators

  • In place of turfgrass, which provides almost nothing for pollinators, plant flowering plants, especially native plants, that provide nectar and pollen. There are many available lists of native and pollinator friendly plants, including from University of Maryland Extension and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Promote a healthy overall ecosystem by planting native grasses and trees that provide food and habitat for other native wildlife.
  • Try to avoid raking leaves; fallen leaves provide important nutrients for soil, suppress weeds, and mitigate erosion. They also provide food and shelter for a number of beneficial organisms that are essential components of the ecosystem. If you must rake up leaves, try to find a place to pile them up and in a few short seasons you’ll have the best fertilizer money can’t buy.
  • Leave wildflower stems and seed heads in place throughout winter. The stems provide habitat for native wildlife, and the seeds provide food for birds.
  • In spring 2021, the local brood of 17-year cicadas will emerge. The exoskeletons and carcasses can provide an additional source of soil nutrients. Rather than sweeping these up and trashing them, use them as compost.
  • At night, minimize use of artificial light or choose lightbulbs designed not to disrupt nocturnal wildlife. Artificial light disrupts night-active pollinators and other nocturnal wildlife, including lightning bugs.

Avoid Using Pesticides and Fungicides

  • To minimize mosquito populations in your yard, eliminate sources of standing water and use mosquito traps instead of spraying chemicals.

Reduce Your Impact on Climate Change

  • Reduce meat and dairy consumption. The meat and dairy industries are a disproportionately large component of agriculture’s contribution to climate change.
  • Purchase used electronics, clothing, furniture, and other items instead of purchasing new ones. If something breaks, repair it instead of replacing it.
  • If at all possible, use public transportation, walk, or bike.

From the City’s Bee City

Why Two Kittens Are Better Than One

What’s better than one adorable, playful kitten? Two adorable kittens! Aside from doubling your fun, there are several important reasons for adopting two kittens rather than one.

Kittens who are adopted with another kitten companion tend to be happier, healthier, and better socialized pets than those forced to be an “only cat.” Contrary to the stereotype, cats are highly social creatures who need the companionship of their own species, and this goes double for kittens.

Two kittens can be easier to care for than one. Kittens crave constant stimulation, and they will keep each other entertained so that they are less likely to engage in destructive behaviors such as attacking your furniture, plants, and electrical cords.

Cats are a predator species, and it is normal for kittens to express their natural instinct to pounce and bite. A pair of kittens will play hunt with one another instead of attacking you, and also teach each other important biting boundaries.

Kittens are particularly active at night, and a single kitten is likely to keep their humans awake with jumping, pouncing, and other hunting behavior directed at toes or anything else that moves. With a friend to play with, the two will keep each other occupied with fun and games until they finally tire and fall asleep too.

Your older cat is not the right companion for your new kitten. A kitten will want energetic rough-housing that your older cat may find annoying or even threatening. But a pair of kittens may end up forging a good friendship with your older cat because they will have each other for aggressive play and can cuddle up with your older cat when it’s time to rest.

From the City's Animal Welfare Committee

Tips for Cooking on a Gas Stove

With COVID-19, many of us are cooking more indoors. If you are using a gas stove, you'll want to take steps to protect your health. Gas stoves generate a lot of indoor air pollution, including nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, which can harm your lungs, heart, and brain. When cooking with a gas stove, make sure to use a range hood that vents outdoors if you have one. If you don't have a range hood, open a window when you cook.

From the City's Committee for a Better Environment