Add Height and Habitat with Oxeye Sunflower

Native Plant Focus: Oxeye Sunflower

Heliopsis helianthoides

Oxeye Sunflower (1)

[By Ann Hall, Environmental Education Specialist, enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov]

With showy yellow daisy-like flowers attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, beneficial wasps, flies and native bees, the oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) blooms all summer and into fall.  Since this plant is not a true sunflower, it is known by several common names including ‘false sunflower’, ‘oxeye daisy’ and ‘smooth oxeye’.   This upright clump-forming Texas native perennial is very effective when used in a garden border, native plant garden, or as an addition to a pollinator garden.

Oxeye sunflower is easy to grow and maintain

It thrives in full sun but will tolerate part shade.  The low watering requirement and tolerance to all soil types make it a perfect plant for our hot Texas climate.  At maturity, oxeye sunflower will reach a height of 3-6 feet and spreads into 2-4 foot clumps.  Dead head (remove spent flowers) to keep this long-blooming perennial covered with blooms.  No known pests or diseases affect this extremely resistant plant.

Ground Bee on Oxeye Sunflower

Nature is enhanced by the oxeye sunflower since it is pollinated by a specific ground-nesting bee.  Birds use the seeds as a winter food source while the plant’s stems provide cover for beneficial insects.  Starting the oxeye sunflower from seed is easily accomplished in the cooler fall and winter months.  Although it is possible to divide the mature clumps, this strategy is less successful than growing from seed.

Seeds of oxeye sunflower are readily available from online retailers who focus on seeds of Texas native plants. Watch for local plants sales offering starts of oxeye sunflower or check local native plant retailers.  Enjoy not only the summer to fall color this plant provides, but also the hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other fascinating pollinators it will attract to your garden.

Kick the Plastic Habit this July

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Take the Plastic Free Pledge – Choose to Refuse!

Summer vacation means more parties, picnics, and eating on-the-go! It’s time to reflect on our disposable habits. Plastic Free July highlights how our short-term convenient choices can have long-term impacts on our environment.

Did You Know? “Eight out of ten items found on beaches in international coastal cleanups are related to eating and drinking,” according to One World One Ocean. This is one problem with an easy solution: choose to refuse!

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Top five ways to reduce plastic in your daily life:

  1. Bring your own bag.  On average in the United States, 100 billion plastic bags are used by consumers annually. The average time each bag is used is less than 15 minutes.
  2. Bring your own bottle. The amount of water used to produce a plastic bottle is 6 to 7 times the amount of water in the bottle.
  3. Bring your own mug. Many coffee shops give a discount if you bring your own container!
  4. Choose cardboard and paper packaging over plastic containers and bags. Less than 14 percent of plastic packaging– the fastest-growing type of packaging–gets recycled.
  5. Kick the disposable straw habit, especially plastic ones. If you must use a straw, try a reusable one made of stainless steel or bamboo.

Explore more easy tips here! Going plastic-free in July is simple; take The Woodlands Plastic Free Pledge and let us know how YOU will break your disposable habit!

At home and on the go, when you can’t reduce, remember to recycle! Need more information? Call the Environmental Services Department at 281-210-3800.

Regular Trash Schedule on July 4th

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Residents are reminded that there will be no interruption or delay of solid waste services over the Fourth of July holiday. Waste Management will provide curbside pickup of trash, recycling and yard trimmings to all residents on their regularly scheduled service day, including Wednesday, July 4, 2018.

For a trouble-free pick-up, please place carts at the curb before 7 a.m. on your regular pick-up day. Keep streets clear of parked cars to allow trucks to safely access carts.

Recycling Reminder

More Important Reminders for Residents:

  • Per the Holiday Collection Schedule, the only holidays that will affect residential trash and recycling collection this year (2018) will be Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

To schedule a bulky pick-up or report service issues, please contact Waste Management at 800-800-5804 or e-mail cssatex@wm.com.

For more information about solid waste and recycling services in The Woodlands, please visit the Environmental Services webpages or call 281-210-3800.

Is There a Tiger in your Yard?

[Guest blog post & original art by Melissa Birdwell, EfTA Intern]

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Tiger-Control Tips

Protect yourself from mosquitoes by regularly dumping out containers holding standing water and wearing CDC-approved mosquito repellent. This is especially important considering that West Nile continues to surface in our local mosquito population this season.

The mosquito mentioned in the image above, the Asian Tiger, is the vector for Dengue and Zika viruses. These mosquitoes are active during the daytime and readily bite humans. Emptying containers of standing water could protect you from diseases carried by the Asian Tiger Mosquito, as that will prevent them from breeding near your home.

The objects shown in the image above are only some of the possible containers that could house mosquito eggs and larvae. Something as small as a bottle cap could be enough to produce a new generation of mosquitoes in only seven days.

Melissa Birdwell completed an 80-hour internship with Environmental Services as part of the Education for Tomorrow Alliance Student Internship Program. She is a rising senior at The Woodlands Christian Academy and has an interest in biological research.


Education for Tomorrow Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting the business and education communities in Montgomery County, Texas. With innovative programs focused on career, leadership and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) preparation, EfTA has become the portal through which business leaders can access and strengthen local education.

The Woodlands Township a proud partner of EfTA, providing four or more Interns each summer with valuable field and laboratory experience as part of the Mosquito Surveillance & Education Program.

 

All A-Buzz – its Pollinator Week!

pwgraphic-for-cover-photo[By Ann Hall, Environmental Education Specialist, enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov]

Celebrate the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles during National Pollinator Week , June 18-24, 2018.

When pollen is moved within a flower or carried from one flower of another of the same species, it leads to fertilization, a vital step to reproduce flowers, fruit and plants.  The vast majority of all flowering plants depend on insects and animals to move pollen from plant to plant.  More than 99% of pollinators are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths and bees.

Pollinators are in decline.  Populations of honeybees, native bees and many butterflies have become much smaller in recent years.  Research has shown that this decline is partially due to the increased use of pesticides and the reduction of many native flowering plants.  The work of pollinators is crucial to maintaining full harvests of crops and the general health of plants everywhere.

What You Can Do For Pollinators

For information on what to plant in your own yard or garden and how to get involved with The Woodlands Township’s goal to become a National Wildlife Federation Monarch Champion City access the PolliNatives Project Page

 

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Plant for Pollinators and Water Savings at Free Workshop this Sat!

 

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Plant with a Purpose!

Join us for this free workshop and learn how to create habitat in your landscape while saving water at the same time.

We’ll delve into:

  • Importance of keeping invasive species at bay – 8:15 a.m.
  • Wonders of pollinators and how to attract them – 9:45 a.m.
  • Many benefits of native plants including water conservation – 10:45 a.m.
  • Best methods for seed collecting and propagation of the plants you love – 12:45 a.m.

Attend one or more FREE sessions – click here to save your spot.

Experts from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas Master Naturalists will lead each session.

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DETAILS:

  • Saturday, June 23 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    • Join us for all or part of the program
    • Lunch provided
  • HARC Building, 8801 Gosling Rd, The Woodlands
  • Free but registration is required – click here to save your spot 

 

Thank you to our sponsors:

Houston Advanced Research Center, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Texas Master Naturalists, Woodlands Joint Powers Agency

 

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Recycling Dilemma #1003 – Moving Boxes and Oversized Cardboard

 

Cardboard Graphic

Whether you relocated from across the country, moved a kid home from college, or just received delivery of a new flat screen TV, dealing with those cardboard boxes is no problem!  Your curbside solid waste services through Waste Management provide a special pick-up day each month for recycling oversized and overabundance of cardboard boxes. The service is provided to each neighborhood in The Woodlands once a month at no additional cost.

2 Easy Steps:

Determine your pick-up day by Village

  • 2nd Monday of the Month: Alden Bridge, Cochran’s Crossing, Sterling Ridge.
  • 4th Friday of the Month: Creekside Park, College Park, Grogan’s Forest, Grogan’s Mill, Indian Springs, Panther Creek, Research Forest, Town Center.

Schedule bulk recycling pick-up of cardboard

  • At least 2 business days prior to the scheduled pick-up day, call Waste Management Customer Service at 1-800-800-5804.
  • Request and keep the confirmation number until service occurs. 

For a trouble-free pick-up, please follow these guidelines:

  • Flatten boxes, then bundle and stack them curbside.
  • Fold packing paper and place in your recycling cart for pick-up on your regular service day.
  • NO packing peanuts, Styrofoam™, bubble wrap or plastic.
  • Place items at the curb before 7 a.m. on the pre-scheduled pick-up day.

Give Moving Boxes Another Trip (1)

Have an abundance of cardboard and don’t want to wait?

Take it to one of our local Drop-off centers: 

The Woodlands Recycling Center | 5100 block of Research Forest, west of Bear Branch Recreation Center | Open Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Precinct 3 Recycling Complex | 1122 Pruitt Road | Call for details: 281-367-7283 | Open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., closed for lunch 11:30 to 12:30


Did you move with more than you meant to, or don’t want to take it all to the new place? Check out the previous Recycling Dilemma # 1002 – Got Stuff? for resources to donate, declutter and discard.


For more moving day solutions see the Moving In/Moving Out Guidelines or call Environmental Services at 281-210-3800.

West Nile Virus Confirmed in Local Mosquito Samples

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The Montgomery County Mosquito Abatement team has detected the first and second mosquito samples to test positive for West Nile virus in The Woodlands Township. With this heightened risk of transmission residents should be diligent in protecting themselves and loved ones from mosquito-borne disease.

There have been no reports of human West Nile virus cases in Montgomery or Harris Counties at this time by the Texas Department of Health Services. However, mosquito surveillance programs exist because detecting the virus in mosquitoes provides the early warning system that protects our community from infection.

Treatment of the affected areas has been completed. Please visit South County Mosquito Abatement to view a map of the treatment areas.

Do Your Part to Prevent Mosquito-Borne Disease…

  • Use mosquito repellent when you are outside – day or night. Choose one with an active ingredient recommended by the Centers for Disease Control : DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus are proven effective by research.
  • Monitor and eliminate all sources of standing water around your property.
  • Treat standing water that cannot be drained with a biological larvicide such as Mosquito Dunks® or Mosquito Bits® – which are available for purchase at local home and garden centers.

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For more tips on protecting your family from mosquito-borne diseases, please visit the Mosquito Control webpage.

To schedule a presentation about reducing mosquitoes for neighborhoods or groups, please call The Woodlands Township Environmental Services at 281-210-3800.

 

World Ocean Day: Pledge to use less plastic

Copy of How will you celebrate

Summer is sizzling and has some of us grabbing our gear for a weekend beach trip! Many feel a natural connection to the ocean as it covers 70% of our planet, houses fascinating marine life, and connects us all.

June 8th is World Ocean Day reminding us to celebrate the many wonders of our aquatic frontier.

This year’s focus is a call to action on plastic pollution. You may have seen the unsettling images of sea life fatalities; our plastics are reaching new shores that have never seen pollution before.  Now is the time to address the issue before we create a world of plastic beaches.

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Plastics are synthetic organic polymers created with petroleum. They are so long lasting that all the plastic that has ever been created still exists today, yet industries create more every day. Most marine plastics originate on land as litter. Once they enter our waters, plastics entangle marine life or erode into smaller particles that are then ingested. Every piece of litter we pick up on land helps the ocean and the life within.

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today“

Abraham Lincoln

 

Let’s answer the call to action for our oceans!

Here’s how we can start making a difference:

  1. Coordinate your own cleanup
    • Bring a bucket for treasures and a bucket for trash – recycle what you can
    • Leave no trace – leave only footprints behind
  2. Support an organization
    • There are many groups forming their own cleanups. Become involved or consider making a donation.
  3. Not able to make it to the shoreline? There’s plenty you can do at home:
    • Reduce packaging when grocery shopping
    • Reuse as much as you canbring your own bags or bottles
    • Recycle right – stay up to date on your local municipality’s recycling guidelines
    • Refuse single use plastics such as straws, bags and cutlery

The Summer Scavenger Hunt Begins!

Look Out For Litter Banner

Blog Post By Zoe Killian, Environmental Education Specialist

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting in the wind… is a real eye sore?  Well, school’s out and now is the time to lookout for litter!

Encourage our young citizens to take action against litter by joining The Woodlands Township for our 4th annual summer litter scavenger hunt— Lookout for Litter. In addition to free fun in the sun and keeping our community beautiful, everyone who completes a log will earn a t-shirt and a free ice cream cone. It’s easy! Go to the Look Out for Litter page to register and to print a litter log and share this poster with your friends.

What litter do you see regularly? Can you think of a solution for this specific litter? By recording the different trash you find, you’ll be able to observe patterns and explore solutions to stop litter at the source.

At one school, 5th graders picked up 1,247 pieces of litter on their campus. They identified plastic straw wrappers as the most common type of litter.

So the school stopped buying straws!

These 5th Graders were inspired to fight litter with technology through Litterati. Become a citizen scientist – add the Litterati app to your phone and help us map litter in our community while contributing to a global database.

For information on how to register and to print a litter log, please visit The Woodlands Township Look Out for Litter page, or call 281-210-3927.

 

Attract Hummingbirds All Summer with Texas Red Yucca

Native Plant Focus:  Texas Red Yucca

Hesperaloe parviflora

More effective at attracting hummingbirds than a feeder, the Texas Red Yucca is also a nectar source for butterflies and native bees.  Actually a member of the Century Plant family, the Texas Red Yucca thrives in our hot Texas summer although it is cold tolerant enough to survive freezing temperatures.

With low watering requirements after establishment, this striking perennial evergreen shrub produces dramatic 3-4 foot spikes of pink to coral to red tubular flowers.   These beautiful flower spikes provide focal interest in landscape beds, large containers, rock gardens or as a single specimen plant.  Each bloom produces a seed capsule which dries to offer winter interest in the landscape.  The evergreen leaves turn a deep shade of purple in cold weather, further enhancing the garden.

Thriving in full sun to part shade and needing only natural rainfall, this plant is adaptable to any soil. Maintenance is minimal – removing the dried flower spike before spring begins is optional.  Planting this succulent in your landscape or a large container will provide beautiful blooms from May through October.  Texas Red Yucca is readily available in most local retail outlets offering bedding plants as well as those specializing in Texas natives.  Enjoy this easy to grow plant along with the hummingbirds and insect pollinators it will draw into your garden.

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Solid Waste Services NOT Impacted by Memorial Day

Mem Day - American Flags

Reminder: All solid waste services in the community will occur as usual over the Memorial Weekend holiday.  There will be no interruption or delay of services. Waste Management will provide curbside pick-up of trash, recycling, and yard trimmings to all residents on their regularly scheduled service day, including Monday, May 28, 2018.  Simple Recycling will also be providing curbside textile recycling with no service interruption.

If your holiday celebration generates more trash than the 96-gallon trash cart can hold, extra service tags are available for purchase for $1.75 each at Township offices, Kroger and Randalls.  One pink service tag should be affixed to each plastic bag of household trash that will NOT fit into the trash cart.

Please note that the Precinct 3 Recycling facility will be closed on Monday, May 28. The Woodlands Recycling Center on Research Forest Drive will be open every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. regardless of holidays.

Per the 2018 Holiday Collection Schedule, the only holidays that will affect residential trash and recycling collection this year will be New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

Find more information about trash and recycling services – visit Environmental Services online. To report missed pick-ups, please call Waste Management Customer Service at 800-800-5804.

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Monitoring Mosquito-Borne Disease in The Woodlands

[Blog by Megan McNairn, Environmental Education Specialist, mmcnairn@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov]

The buzzing has begun! As residents enter into the summer season, the Environmental Services department would like to remind you that “mosquito season” is here. The month of May is when the Texas Department of State Health Services begins testing mosquito samples for disease.

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The Environmental Services (ES) Mosquito Team is out setting traps that target the vectors for two important mosquito-borne diseases – Zika virus and West Nile virus (WNV).  Fortunately, no samples tested positive for Zika virus and there was a low incidence of WNV in The Woodlands last year. Only 1% of the mosquito samples sent for testing were found to carry the disease.

To prevent the spread of mosquitoes (and mosquito-borne illnesses) – the ES Mosquito Team reminds residents to take a moment every week to empty containers holding water and scrub out birdbaths. Recent surveys of yards in The Woodlands determined that containers around homes – such as plant saucers, toys, wheelbarrows, buckets, and birdbaths – were the most plentiful source of mosquito breeding sites. Follow these simple guidelines and reduce the buzzing in your backyard!

If you are having problem with mosquitoes and cannot locate the source, please call Environmental Services at 281-210-3800. For more information on mosquito-proofing your yard and a review of The Woodlands Township Mosquito Surveillance & Education activities in 2017 visit our Mosquito Control Page.

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National Wildflower Week May 6-12, 2018

[Blog Post by Ann Hall, ahall@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov]

Nationwide, beautiful wildflowers are enhancing our outdoor environment. Initiated in 1988 by the American Wildflower Society, National Wildflower Week is celebrated yearly during the first full week in May. Since 2003, the Ladybird Johnson National Wildflower Center has served as the permanent home of this yearly focus on our nation’s wildflowers.

Enjoying wildflowers in The Woodlands is as simple as taking a walk, visiting a park, local forest or garden. Bring along a wild flower field guide to assist with identifying the plants in bloom. The definitive resource, Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide, was recently revised and is available for purchase. Use your phone or camera to capture the beauty of your excursion into nature.

With the resources available through the Ladybird Johnson National Wildflower Center, the opportunity to learn more about these fascinating plants is almost unlimited. To learn what is blooming in a given week, access “What’s In Season.”

For a directory of wildflower suppliers, access the National Suppliers Directory.

Local native plant societies in our area offer additional resources, nearby educational opportunities and plant sales focused on Texas native plants. The Native Plant Society of Texas-Houston offers a variety of useful native plant resources on their website.

Make an appointment with yourself by adding your wildflower walk or hike to this week’s calendar. Our wildflowers are blooming! Enjoy them!

 

 

Thank you volunteers and sponsors for another amazing Earth Day GreenUp!

Recently The Woodlands Township celebrated its 8th annual Earth Day GreenUp. This community wide stewardship project involved neighbors, friends, charity groups, and co-workers meeting across the community to clean pathways, parks, and waterways. The event’s success can be attributed to the over 750 volunteers that participated.

With 40 volunteer organizations and a multitude of friends and neighbors, over 3000 hours were logged and over 8,000 pounds of trash was collected – which equals 92 trash carts! Additionally, three pounds of cigarette butts were collected during clean up and sent to TerraCycle. Cigarette butt waste collected is then recycled into a variety of industrial products.

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“Volunteers have always enjoyed this event that celebrates Earth Day and keeps our parks and pathways clean,” notes Zoe Killian, Environmental Education Specialist for The Woodlands Township. She encourages residents to continue the celebration throughout the year by participating in one of the many other Township stewardship programs. “Interested volunteers should contact our department to learn more about Adopt-A-Habitat, Adopt-A-Path, and Look Out For Litter.”

Earth Day GreenUp was generously sponsored by Waste Management, Keep America Beautiful, Berkeley Services, H-E-B, Woodlands Joint Powers Agency, The Woodlands Development Company | Howard Hughes, Papa John’s Pizza, Nature’s Way Resources and Woodlands G.R.E.E.N.

For more information on community stewardship programs such as Adopt-a-Habitat, Adopt-a-Path, cleanup events, or participation in next year’s GreenUp, visit Environmental Services online or call The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department at 281.210.3800.

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