Our Helpful Friends
Wasps again?!?! Yes. Wasps again. Hear me out…
In the past month or so you may have noticed a bunch of wasps flying around in circles low to the ground for seemingly no reason. If so, you have probably witnessed the scoliid (sko-LEE-ud) wasp!
For gardeners in the know, the sight of these wasps brings a sense of joy, or at least grim satisfaction. They know the scoliid wasp is a predator of many of the pests that drive us insane including May bugs, June beetles, and the awful and invasive Japanese beetle.
While the adult wasps are usually only spotted when they are above ground drinking nectar from flowers (and also pollinating them in the process), they can also be seen flying low above the ground. They do this when they are hunting! The female wasps fly low “looking” for the grubs of the pests they love so much. Once one is located she digs down to find it and using her ovipositor (the stinger) she injects her eggs inside the grub. The eggs, once hatched, release the larvae of the wasp which then feeds on the grub from the inside, thus killing it and keeping it from eating our lawn, flowers, and gardens.
And while the female can sting, she is not aggressive and will only sting if being mishandled. (Who among us doesn’t?) The males cannot sting and they spend most of their time eating nectar and chillin’.
Janet Douberly runs PR for wasps at Downtown Greens.
This article was originally published in the September 2023 edition of Front Porch Magazine. Check out the full edition by using the button below!
Growth and Possibilities
If you haven’t had the chance to join us on a tour of the land at 1360 Belman road, you’re missing out. Since Downtown Greens took ownership of some of the last undeveloped land in the city in 2021, a lot has changed. You would be struck by how much the trees have grown in the short time since volunteers planted more than 800 native saplings back in April. They went in as little bare root sticks, as big around as a pencil and have, in four short months, set roots, leafed out, and are nearly bursting from the tubes in which they were planted.
The growth around this field serves as a reminder of the natural growth of the land purchase campaign itself. It’s the story that we all know by now, of a community who came together in a very big way for the benefit of the whole. More than 500 people who all saw the potential and necessity of saving this pristine land full of natural wetlands and agricultural fields. They chipped in over four short months to raise enough money to make it possible to purchase the land, plant trees, host university research classes, and lay the groundwork for all the young people who will be able to learn about sustainable agriculture there.
And this was just the beginning! Phase two will start later this year with studies, master site plan renderings for the entire 56 acres and sketches of the built spaces like educational buildings as well as the natural spaces like wetland pathways.
But before we can begin in earnest, we need to clear the remaining debt on the land. We only have $70,500 remaining before we own these acres outright! This seems like a huge number on its own. But considering that this community has raised over $2 million dollars in donations, grants, and more, this is a drop in the bucket. Eliminating this debt means that we’re free to build out the potential of the land and more quickly provide services back to our neighbors. The longer it takes us to pay off the debt, the more money we're spending in interest which isn't going toward our mission.
If you want to help us cross the finish line and leave your mark on this soon-to-be preserved piece of Fredericksburg’s natural landscape - donate at Downtowngreens.org. Anything will help as we all come together in this last big push. All gifts of $10,000 and more will get your name (or a loved one’s name) on the gratitude rock that will be placed at the entrance of the property.
In the meantime, we’re awaiting the approval of our comprehensive plan amendment request at City Council and the Planning Commission to allow us to move forward with a Conservation Easement. We are hoping to record the easement by the end of September. With an Easement in place this land will be preserved in perpetuity and will be available for the public to enjoy for decades to come.
Check out what all the fuss is about and join us on our next walkaround tour of the land on Thursday, September 14 at 5pm. Email email@example.com to RSVP. Enjoy an hour-long tour around the property. Refreshing drinks provided.
Corey Fillault is Office Coordinator at Downtown Greens
This article was originally published in the September 2023 edition of Front Porch Magazine. Use link below to view whole publication.