Books & Publications


Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Habitat Restoration Chair Moni Burke, a Cascades resident, submitted a Lyme prevention article by invitation this month for her community association newsletter.  We are pleased to share the full text here, and we welcome our members and friends to share it with their communities.  (Photo by Jared Garland.)



Lyme Prevention: Highest-Efficacy, Lowest-Cost, and Lowest-Toxicity Methods

Many of the methods for Lyme disease prevention which studies indicate to be most effective are low- or no cost, and carry low or no risk. The highest-efficacy, lowest-cost, lowest-toxicity Lyme prevention methods are tick checks and protective clothing. These personal measures and other effective landscape management methods for the homeowner are outlined below.


1. Personal Protective Measures

A. Tick checks and prompt removal

The definitive Tick Management Handbook states that “checking for ticks and prompt removal of attached ticks is probably the most important and effective method of preventing infection!” – and indeed, most scientific studies have supported this assertion.


B. Protective Clothing

The Tick Management Handbook recommends wearing long pants tucked into socks to make ticks easier to detect and keep them on the outside of the clothes. A 2008 Center for Disease Control (CDC) Connecticut study of nearly 2,000 individuals found protective clothing – defined as long pants and long-sleeved shirts to be 40% effective in preventing Lyme disease. Wearing this type of protective clothing is a risk-free prevention method.


2. Landscape Management

A. Tick-safe zones

According to a study referenced in the Tick Management Handbook, the nymphal blacklegged tick whose bite is the primary cause of Lyme disease in humans, is found mainly in densely wooded areas (67%) and in transitional edge ecotone habitat between woodlands and open areas (22%), which provide the relatively high humidity necessary for their survival. Fewer ticks are found in ornamental vegetation (9%) and lawn (2%).


The Tick Management Handbook, CDC and other sources recommend that families create tick-safe zones in lawns and play areas around their homes – isolating these zones from tick habitat with a wood chip or gravel barrier of approximately 3 feet, and then increasing exposure to sun and air in those zones. The Tick Management Handbook notes that acceptable alternatives to lawn include butterfly gardens, vegetable gardens, formal herb gardens, colonial style gardens, wildflower meadows and hardscapes.


These measures have been shown to reduce tick numbers on the subject property. However, a recent study showed them not to be significantly protective against Lyme disease – and the Tick Management Handbook concludes that “landscape management alone may not reduce disease incidence, as the undetected bite of only one infected tick is required for transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi.” Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacteria causing Lyme disease.


There is no real risk associated with this type of landscape management. The cost will vary depending on lot size and existing landscaping.


B. Replacing exotic invasives with native plants

Multiple studies have shown that controlling invasive plants, especially Japanese barberry, helps to reduce both total tick numbers and infected tick numbers. Two Maine Medical Center Research Institute studies, and the Tick Management Handbook, indicate that blacklegged ticks are significantly more abundant in areas dominated by exotic invasive plants, particularly Japanese barberry, than areas dominated by native shrubs. A 2010 Connecticut study indicates that control of Japanese barberry – either through cutting off the above-ground portion or using a flame treatment – “reduced the number of ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi by nearly 60% by reverting microclimatic conditions to those more typical of native northeastern forests.”


Invasive removal alone may in some cases be sufficient for native plants to return to the area without further effort or expense by the homeowner – though in some cases, there may be cost and labor associated with acquiring and planting new native shrubs.


Invasive plant removal carries no risk except for that associated with use of standard garden tools, and it carries many environmental benefits.


C. Promotion of vertebrate biodiversity

Recent research on Lyme disease mitigation points to a whole new paradigm, suggesting that we should focus not on culling or excluding one or two specific tick-carrying mammal species (such as deer or mice), but rather on fostering life for many diverse species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.


At the homeowner or property manager level, one way to promote vertebrate diversity is by replacing exotic invasive plants with native plants, as discussed in section 2B above, and by restoring habitat diversity, health, and complexity. As entomologist Douglas W. Tallamy writes, “because animals directly or indirectly depend on plants for their food, the diversity of animals in a particular habitat is very closely linked to the diversity of the plants in that habitat.”


Some research shows that at the community planning level, a key way to promote vertebrate diversity and thereby reduce Lyme disease risk is to discourage land-use practices that fragment our forests. This is because forest fragmentation tends to favor a small number of mammal species that are relatively likely to infect ticks with Lyme disease bacterium, while reducing populations of other species that are unlikely to be infected with Lyme disease bacterium.


Note on chemical spraying for ticks

The pesticides primarily used for tick spraying are bifenthrin and permethrin, both of which are a pyrethroid that is currently classified by the EPA as a Group C carcinogen (possible human carcinogen – cancer causing) and highly toxic to bees, fish, and aquatic invertebrates.


For further information on Lyme disease mitigation, please visit: PDF_Files/Rebalance_Loudoun_Lyme_Mitigation_Approach.pdf


Moni Burke

Chair, Habitat Restoration

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy


Here’s an excellent article (with photos) that has the how to’s:

Great Spangled Fritillary on Bergamot

Great Spangled Fritillary on Bergamot


Head out to your garden now and collect some seeds from your favorite plants — and see what comes up :) !




cover for flierRemember the ravens nesting last year on the Purcellville water tower? Well they returned again this year and Sandra Stein who lives near the water tower became captivated by them – so much so that she created a wonderful children’s book that was just released!

She writes, “Every time I’d hear them squawk, I’d drop whatever I was doing and run out with my camera.  It became quite an obsession.”  We are so happy that watching these birds captured her attention because Sandra has put together a wonderful story!

The title of the book is the Water Tower Ravens and you can purchase it online at Amazon or at Around the Block bookstore in Purcellville (which, by the way, is also just around the block from the water tower…at least as the raven flies ;)

SANDRA KOVACS STEIN is an avid photographer who loves taking pictures of nature and wildlife, particularly in her little corner of the world.  When a pair of ravens built a nest near the top of a water tower right across from her balcony, they became her main subjects for months to follow.  This book was inspired by the many photos she took of the little ravens learning to fly.

Sandra moved to Purcellville seven years ago, and developed a passion for capturing the changing seasons, neighborhood animals, birds, flowers, skies. She has a friend and walking partner who shares her passion and they often take walks along the path and through town with their cameras.  Neither one has an SLR or professional type camera.  They just love to point and click.

The WATER TOWER RAVENS is Sandra’s first picture book, and also marks her debut as a writer for children, which shows it’s never too late to get started.  She has two children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren who are no doubt enjoying the story of the Water Tower Ravens!


I only know a few but found this to be a great tool that can help us learn: Ant and Bee observer cards from encyclopedia online!


Observer cards are designed to foster the art and science of observing nature. Sets are cards are organized around Families of plants, animals, and fungi. Each set provides information about key traits and techniques necessary to make accurate and useful scientific observations.

The tool is not designed to identify species, but rather to encourage detailed observations. Of course, identification can be possible with careful observations but the focus here is on the process of observing.

For example, if you set out to observe pine trees, what features, traits, and environmental factors are important to record? What photographs or drawings make your observations more informative?




LWC logoWarning:  This is not your average LWC blog post, but it is about Cross Pollination…of sorts!

Did you know that Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is active on Facebook? 

Wait…don’t click that CLOSE button…I promise there is a good reason for this blog post!

We want need you to Follow LOUDOUN WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY on Facebook!

Since Facebook is one of society’s most rapidly growing marketing tools, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is employing it to effectively and efficiently promote important information, events, accomplishments, and action items.  Beyond these central goals, Facebook posts afford LWC a modern and lightening-speed outreach highway.  Not only can LWC connect with other conservation-minded citizens, but it can also reach out to the wider public to promote involvement and education about countless, significant topics.

Our Facebook page currently has 1,392 Followers! 

Some of these Followers are already active members who want to see photos from and read the feedback about our field trips (like last weekend’s vernal pools events). They are local residents seeking details about the upcoming events being promoted, or who enjoy learning about native plants and their seasonal growth. Some of our Facebook Followers have their own photos of backyard birds or other wildlife visitors to share with their community. Some have wildlife or habitat concerns to share, insect populations to report, or plant identification questions.

Actively posting on Facebook affords Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy an influential voice that can be shared from a Follower to a family member, neighbor, or colleague.  This means our efforts are being communicated to others who are then learning about LWC and its important (and edutaining) efforts. This kind of instant sharing generates interest and action, and it encourages engagement with communities well beyond the boundaries of Loudoun County.  This means that LWC, its projects and events, and the exciting and purposeful work of conservation and wildlife research is being more broadly shared, and shared again, and again.  Thus, Facebook is enabling Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy to CROSS POLLINATE…information, ideas, research, conservation efforts, and so much more.

There are so many delicious bits of information out there that can’t usually be quickly shared on a static website platform.  So, LWC can’t always post and repost on the website about the latest in Monarch research, the recent multi-national interest regarding the migratory Monarch habitat restoration, or the bluebirds now arriving in their bluebird boxes…but we CAN post that to Facebook where it is instantly accessible from any smart phone or computer.

So, why do we need (not merely want) you to follow LWC on Facebook?

Simple math can illustrate:

  • If I am a Follower, I am getting all the LWC Facebook posts—daily.  This increases LWC’s visibility to me.
  • If I share a Loudoun Wildlife Facebook post on my Facebook page, and I have 10 Facebook friends…I have just increased our visibility by 10X.
  • If you and I both share a Loudoun Wildlife Facebook post, and we each have 10 friends…well, that is 20X the visibility.

The more visible we are, the more powerfully we can educate and impact.  It’s like having a superhero cape. So, even if you are not a huge Facebook fan, or you are only a casual user, consider “FOLLOWING” the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy page and sharing our posts.  You’ll be our superhero!

Next year, in 2015, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy celebrates its 20th anniversary; wouldn’t it be incredible if we could increase our number of Followers to 2,015…or more? Imagine that power!

Oh, and if you want to share this blog post, it’ll be cross posted pollinated on our Facebook page!  You’ll recognize us there by our familiar logo.


Here’s a great list of books, pulled together by our Habitat Herald Coordinator, Donna Quinn. As you head off to the beach or other getaway destinations for some R&R, download one of these to your tablet or stash one away in your bag – these make for a nice read on a sunny (or rainy) summer day:

Book_ClubSquirrelBookCooked by Michael Pollan – “And there’s something magical that happens when people eat from the same pot. The family meal is really the nursery of democracy. It’s where we learn to share, it’s where we learn to argue without offending. It’s just too critical to let go, as we’ve been so blithely doing.” (Michael Pollan, Cooked) Be warned. You will want to cook dinner.

Imperial Dreams: Tracking the Imperial Woodpecker Through the Wild Sierra Madre by Tim Gallagher: Go on a journey deep in the wilds of Mexico to find a woodpecker believed to be extinct.

Mariposa Road by Robert Michael Pyle: A butterfly Big Year.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Philip Hoose: A young adult book for all ages, the story of B95, a Red Knot who has flown the distance of the moon and back.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt: A young adult book for all ages. “Reproductions of Audubon plates introduce each chapter in this stealthily powerful, unexpectedly affirming story of discovering and rescuing one’s best self, despite family pressure to do otherwise.” —Booklist

Sex on Six Legs by Marlene Zuk: “With the humor of Olivia Judson’s Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, Zuk not only examines the bedroom lives of creepy crawlies but also calls into question some of our own longheld assumptions about learning, the nature of personality, and what our own large brains might be for.”—Amazon

Snapper by Brian Kimberling: “In this hilarious debut novel, a young Indiana man’s job as a bird tracker brings him up close and personal with all manner of creatures”.—Oprah, 15 Riveting Reads to Pick Up in May 2013



how-raise-monarchsDid you see this book review in the Washington Post last week?

Well we agree with the critic – it’s a great book! In fact, it’s probably the best one I’ve seen on the ins and outs of raising Monarchs.

And don’t let the subtitle fool you – it’s perfect for any of us who are learning how to raise and release Monarchs.

Because we think so highly of it, we not only ordered a box of them but also had the author, Carol Pasternak, sign and inscribe each one.

If you would like to pick up a copy, you can buy it at our program this Wednesday night:

“The Magic of Monarchs: A Journey to Mexico and So Much More”
Location: Morven Park, Carriage House
Date & Time: April 10, 2013, 7:00pm
Please RSVP for the program here



Attention Homeschoolers, teachers, parents, and curious naturalists! Frog activity will start to stir come the first week or two of March –  Here is a great  resource to add to use as we head into this season: Hop Into Action.

The author, David Alexander, joined us one spring for our amphibian monitoring program kickoff and spring pools explorations.  He was great to have along and really knows his stuff. His book is available through Amazon.

Hop Into Action, Book Review by Jessica Kratz
Looking to have your students leap from the sidelines to participating in citizen science? To spring forward from awareness to action? David Alexander’s fun and easy-to-follow curriculum guide Hop Into Action [NSTA Press, 2010] is a fantastic way for educators, youth leaders, and naturalists to become informed and involved with frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians.

Alexander leaves virtually no stone [or log] unturned, approaching the subject from nearly all angles, and all disciplines. He provides information on the ethical, practical, and logistical considerations for the field and the classroom, from handling techniques to finding or creating an appropriate amphibian habitat. There is an extensive resource list of related age-appropriate books and materials, a thorough glossary and index which is immensely helpful for building science vocabulary, and an elaborate matrix correlating the 20 activities to the North American Association for Environmental Education [NAAEE] Guidelines for grades K-4. Alexander also offers ways to adapt the lessons for our youngest naturalists.

Alexander’s 20 activities are clearly written, require few additional materials [which are easy and inexpensive to obtain] and easy to follow. A friendly frog appears on the introductory page of each activity. This familiar character instantly welcomes you to each lesson, dressed and posed to provide a quick and amusing introduction. From artist to businessman, from diner to singer, our multi-faceted guide is a welcoming host and reflects how enjoyable and interdisciplinary the guide is. The clear illustrations and clever comparisons [i.e., comparing the size of a frog to a tennis ball] make both teacher and student more comfortable with measurement and help both ease into scientific procedures. Alexander also offers fresh approaches to familiar activities [i.e., "Lily Pad Venn Diagrams"] and fun, modern ways of expressing and exploring ideas, such as “Herp, Herp Hooray” [amphibian conservation plans] and “Frog Pond Lifeguard” [aquatic invertebrate survey and ecological health assessment.

With nearly 1/3 of amphibian species known to be threatened or extinct, and at least 42% of amphibian species declining in population for reasons such as habitat loss, climate change, and fungal disease, according to the 2008 Global Amphibian Assessment [...], it is important to guide children to understand and appreciate amphibians before it is too late. It also provides an opportunity for students to connect to a global extinction issue closer to home, using species they can observe nearby.

Hop Into Action is a fantastic vehicle for getting elementary school teachers more comfortable with and involved in science. It is also a convenient reference and source of activities for camps, youth groups, nature centers, and other non-formal settings. Its lessons can be used individually, as a building block for a unit, or a foundation for a year-long investigation. Hop Into Action also makes a fantastic gift for the educators in your life, and is truly a gift to amphibians everywhere.


Life in the Fallen Leaves — that’s the theme of our fall Habitat Herald newsletter.

It was sent to Members last week but you can also read it online – now in color!

We realized that we were using some really wonderful photographs to accompany the different articles and while they look ok in gray scale for the print version, they sure do add a lot of color and flavor in color.

So, moving forward, we’ll continue to print the gray scale version (because we feel it’s important to have a hard copy to share and enjoy) but we’ll also post online the color version.

Many thanks to Lorrie Bennett for doing the fantastic layout, to the photographers for contributing their works of art, and to Donna Quinn for coordinating the publication of this newsletter each quarter!

Check out the color version here.


If you enjoy watching and learning about butterfles here in Loudoun, you might want to pick up a copy of our new Field Guide to the Butterflies of Loudoun County!

We first produced this field guide last summer as a limited run as we got feedback and ideas for improvement and took a little more time to track down more species.

Those ideas and additional species have been added and this latest edition is hot off the press!

This Guide provides photos and identification tips for 63 of the 85 species of butterflies documented in Loudoun County and contains all of the species typically found on our Annual Loudoun County Butterfly Count (coming up August 4th).

In addition to identification tips and over 130 color photos, the guide provides species-specific information such as:
- Host plants
- Favorite nectar plants
- Overwintering strategies
- Flight times
- Butterfly abundance (common, rare, etc.)

This 50-page guide is spiral bound for easy use in the field, has room for your notes, and includes comparison pages for a few similar-looking species.

Order your copy today! $12 plus s/h 

Giving to the Community – Matching Program: Your purchase of the Guide helps us give it away for free! For every copy of the Guide you buy, we will donate a copy for use in environmental education programs.

Publication of this guide was made possible by a generous donation from TRIP II, The Dulles Greenway.


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