Instagram data uncovers the world’s top #urbanjungles

June 12, 2020 by  
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Houseplants offer any number of benefits ranging from cleaner air to aesthetic appeal. Indoor plants brighten up a space and bring the natural world indoors, something that seems especially important during the 2020 COVID lockdowns. They make excellent gifts and enhance every photo opportunity within the home, whether it be a pre-prom photo or a snapshot of dinner. Love of houseplants  seems to be universal, but Budget Direct Home Insurance wanted to know specifically what areas of the world took the biggest interest in plant adoption and which plants people had the most passion for.  To figure this out, Budget Direct analyzed the most commonly used hashtags on Instagram to locate the top 10 plant-loving countries and which plants they are capturing for their feeds. After filtering the results of 200,000 Instagram posts and cleaning up the data by removing outliers and professional plant peddlers such as florists , Budget Direct put all its findings into an easy to comprehend map.  Related: 9 ways to add more houseplants to your home Results from the most common hashtag, #urbanjungle, show the United States as the top indoor plant hugging group with 7,592 posts. Brazil came in second, with half that number at 3,577. Europe is another plant-loving culture, with Germany posting 3,417 times and the U.K. showing a proud 2,323 posts. France followed at 1,673 posts, the Netherlands with 1,610, and Poland with 1,591 posts about appreciating indoor greenery. Rounding out the top 10 list was Italy with 1,405, pushing Europe’s total posts to over 17,000, then India with 1,327 and Canada with 1,288. The study breaks this information down further, looking at cities with the highest number of Instagram posts regarding indoor plants. NYC, London and Berlin, in that order, took the top three spots, followed by São Paulo, Paris, Los Angeles, Warsaw, Singapore, Amsterdam and Toronto. Representing an expansive geography, these posts make clear that houseplants are an essential part of  interior design  across various cultures.  While most people are familiar with product influencers on social media, you may not know about houseplant influencers. It makes sense when you think about it. You’re scrolling through Instagram, you like plants and you follow people who are knowledgeable, friendly and helpful so you can successfully grow and enjoy your indoor plants . By studying an assortment of popular hashtags such as #houseplants, #houseplantsofinstagram, #houseplantsmakemehappy and, of course, #urbanjungle, the researchers at Budget Direct Home Insurance created a top 10 list of houseplant influencers. In the results, the company stated, “According to our study, if you want to become an #urbanjungle influencer, you need a blend of houseplant knowledge, interior design flair, and friendliness.” If you’re looking for some inspiration or advice, here are a few of the houseplant influencers that made Budget Direct’s top 10 list. Coming in at number one is Canada-based Darryl Cheng ( @houseplantjournal ), author of “The New Plant Parent.” Following Cheng were U.S.-based creators The Potted Jungle ( @thepottedjungle ) and Hilton Carter ( @hiltoncarter ). Carter not only shares plant wisdom on Instagram, but also via weekly tips as the “Plant Doctor” for Apartment Therapy, plant propagating experiences on Airbnb and two books, “Wild Interiors” and “Wild at Home.” After pinpointing the most passionate Instagram plant owners and locations, the Budget Direct team took their research one step further to identify which plants are the most frequently captured on film. Greenery was identified by hashtags using proper botanical names, rather than common names. The results showed a combination of flowering indoor plants, succulents and foliage plants making up the top 10 most commonly posted varieties. Echeveria, a widely popular desert succulent, took the prize for the most photographed plant. Its striking blue-green rosette makes it a model for the camera. Plus, it is easy to grow and maintain. With 1,021,534 posts, Echeveria stands out as a clear favorite of plant lovers around the world. In second place with nearly half as many mentions (517,005) was the flowering crocus. Another easy-to-care-for succulent, Haworthia, settled into third place, likely due to its forgiving demeanor and eye-catching appeal. Indoor Fuschia and daffodils took over the fourth and fifth positions, showing that people love their flowering plants. The Swiss Cheese Plant, though many people may not recognize it by name, earned sixth place and is one of the most common houseplants in the world. The Dragon Wing Begonia, Living Stones, Freesia Flower and Chinese Money Plant round out the top 10 most frequently photographed and posted houseplants in the world. The results of this study are meant to be an enlightening report of who’s talking and what they’re talking about when it comes to houseplants. Still, Instagram may not be the best exclusive source of information considering it’s still not widely used in many areas. Instead of a comprehensive study, this data reflects overall  interior design  trends that suggest houseplants have a home anywhere around the world. + Budget Direct Home Insurance Images via Budget Direct Home Insurance 

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Instagram data uncovers the world’s top #urbanjungles

Rare blue bee spotted in Florida

May 20, 2020 by  
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While most Americans have been inside watching Netflix and cultivating sourdough starter, Chase Kimmel has scoured the Central Florida sand dunes for the blue calamintha bee . The rare bee hadn’t been spotted since 2016, but Kimmel’s diligence paid off. The postdoctoral researcher has caught and released a blue bee 17 times during its March-to-May flying season. Scientists think the bee lives only in the Lake Wales Ridge region, which is due east of Tampa in the “highlands” — about 300 feet above sea level. This biodiversity hotspot traces its geological history back to a time when most of Florida was underwater. The high sand dunes were like islands, each developing its own habitat. Unfortunately, this ecosystem is quickly disappearing. Related: UK bees and wildflowers thrive during lockdown “This is a highly specialized and localized bee,” Jaret Daniels, a curator and director at the Florida Museum of Natural History and Kimmel’s advisor, told the Tampa Bay Times . The bee pollinates Ashe’s calamint, a threatened perennial deciduous shrub with pale purple flowers. Scientists first described the blue calamintha bee in 2011, and some feared it had already gone extinct . It’s only been recorded in four locations within 16 square miles of Lake Wales Ridge. “I was open to the possibility that we may not find the bee at all so that first moment when we spotted it in the field was really exciting,” Kimmel said. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is funding Kimmel’s two-year study. Before the Ashe’s calamint began blooming this spring — and before the pandemic upended some of his research strategies — Kimmel and a volunteer positioned nesting boxes in promising areas of the ridge. After the flowers bloomed, he has continued to return and look for bees. When he sees what he thinks is a blue bee, he tries to catch it in a net and puts the bee in a plastic bag. Then, he cuts a hole in the corner of the bag and entices the bee to stick its head out so he can look at it with a hand lens. After photographing the bees, he releases them. Kimmel says their stings aren’t too bad. + Florida Museum Photography by Chase Kimmel via Florida Museum

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Maven Moment: Flowers for Your Soul

April 29, 2020 by  
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For the first time in a long time, I am … The post Maven Moment: Flowers for Your Soul appeared first on Earth911.com.

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12 tips for a vibrant spring garden

February 13, 2020 by  
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When the frost begins to thaw and the first signs of spring appear, it’s time to start thinking about your garden. While it’s true that many of your plants won’t fully come to life for another six months, the more you can knock off your list before spring, the better off your plants , lawn, and schedule will be. So even if you’re still enjoying cozy time in front of the fire, consider tackling, or even preparing for, some outdoor chores during breaks in the weather. Weeding If you live in a snow-covered area, this task will have to wait, but if the thaw is on it’s the perfect time to tackle the first round of seasonal weeds. Since the soil is soft before the heat of summer cements it in, pull weeds and invasive grass for a jump start to the  spring weeding. The earlier and more frequently you pull them, the easier they are to control throughout the season. Related: 11 unique edible plants for your garden Building  If the weather outside is still too severe to work the ground, there are still ways to prep your garden from within the cover of your workshop. Plan and build trellises, arbors and raised beds in preparation for the planting season. Fencing If the heavy frost is past, dig into that fence-building project. Your post hole digger will glide through the soil much easier early in the year than it will if you wait until August. Plus, your garden space will be protected from wildlife and domestic animals before you even get the seeds in the ground. Transplanting It’s important to get your plants established before the growing season begins so they are ready to accept nutrients and thrive. Deciduous trees and shrubs still in their dormant season can be moved as long as the ground isn’t too frozen or too wet. Evergreen flowering shrubs such as rhododendrons, myrtles, azaleas and camellias can be moved once the threat of frost has passed. Organizing Even if you can’t check weeding or planting off your list, late winter is the ideal time to care for your lawn and garden supplies. Choose a reasonably agreeable weather day and empty the garden shed or supplies from the garage. Wash planting pots and allow them to dry. Clean and add protectants to tools. Also, sharpen blades and take an inventory of trimmer string and similar supplies that need replacing. Reorganize tools and supplies and donate unneeded or duplicate items to your local Habitat for Humanity reStore. Also, create a planting calendar so you have an idea of the workload in the upcoming months. Organize your seeds in a box in order of when they need planting — whether you’re using indoor starts, a greenhouse, or direct planting. This is also the perfect time to order seeds or plants. Make sure to check out your local extension office for garden plant sales nearby. While you’re in planning mode, make a list of desired projects for the year and create a workable timeline for each, complete with a budget. Edging Lawn edging is another task that is much easier in soft soil so tidy up the edges around all lawns and add a border if it’s in your plans. It will make mowing and other maintenance much easier throughout the season. Deadheading As your plants begin to rise from their winter slumber, deadhead last year’s growth as appropriate for each plant. Trim off spent blooms you may have missed in the fall, including the foliage from  ornamental grasses . Also, remove the faded flowers from winter pansies and other current bloomers to extend their blooming season. Caring for fruit February and March (if this is winter in your area) are the time to get root plants in the ground. This includes blueberries and raspberries. For fruit trees, protect them from the birds by adding netting before the fruit begins to develop. It’s much easier to cover plants and trees before they fill out with a full bloom. If you already have established berries, go ahead and cut them back now as the growing season begins. Pruning trees While we’re discussing trees, late winter is still a dormant time where trees respond well to pruning. It’s also easier to see the growth pattern of the branches so you can select which of them needs to be trimmed back. Avoid pruning spring-blooming trees  until after they have completed their bloom season. Pruning shrubs and climbers Now is also the time to trim back ivy, wisteria and other climbers as well as hearty shrubs like boxwood. Creating a shape now drops care down to a maintenance level for the season , meaning you will just need to monitor its growth, feeding, and watering. Feed the birds Even though the temperatures may be starting to level out or rise, the birds are still foraging for food so give them a handout. Clean and fill bird feeders with quality food to keep them coming back for more. Dig a pond If you have set a goal of putting in a pond or other feature, dust off the design and get digging now. Again, you’ll find it much easier to create a hole in soft soil than rock hard tundra . If it will be a while before you finish the task, make sure the hole is properly covered to avoid accidents. Via Thompson and Morgan Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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9 ways to have an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day

February 8, 2019 by  
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While there is no truth to the rumor that Hallmark invented Valentine’s Day, there is no denying that many people think of it as a manufactured holiday designed to sell cards, flowers and chocolate. Every February 14th, millions of people buy cards and roses, and drop a ton of cash on diamonds, gold and silver. In 2019, Americans are expected to spend almost 20 billion dollars for the romantic holiday, and that breaks down to nearly $150 a person. All of that consumer spending leads to a lot of waste . A holiday dedicated to love shouldn’t be about how much money you spend. You can still do a lot of romantic things that don’t destroy your budget and the environment. Rethink your chocolate choices Instead of picking up a last minute box of chocolates from the nearest convenience store, plan in advance to buy organic or local chocolate. Then, opt for minimal packaging instead of heart-shaped boxes or plastic molds. Go green with your Valentine’s cards Even though everything seems to be digital these days, more than 180 million paper cards are still exchanged on Valentine’s Day. Paper mills use huge amounts of water and emit loads of chemicals, not to mention, the trees that have to die to make these cards. Even recycled cards will emit methane when they decompose in a landfill. This year, skip the traditional paper card and make one yourself out of old magazines or give a card made from plantable seed paper. You can also send a custom E-Card or chalk a sidewalk where you know your significant other will see it. Related: 6 ways to reuse your Valentine’s Day roses Pick organic bouquets The flower industry is surprisingly destructive when it comes to the environment because of the heavy pesticide use. So, minimize your impact this Valentine’s Day by giving your loved one an organic bouquet or pick some flowers out of your own garden or visit the local farmer’s market. If you do visit your local farmer’s market, that is also a great place to find local, seasonal treats instead of buying something that’s been shipped from thousands of miles away. Stick to vintage jewelry There are numerous environmental and human rights problems that come from mining gold and diamonds. So, instead of buying brand new jewelry, opt for a vintage piece that makes a statement. Or, consider something that has been made from recycled metal, paper or other repurposed materials. Skip the restaurant Many of us look at Valentine’s Day as an excuse to dine out at a fabulous restaurant and drop a little extra cash. However, there is nothing more romantic than making a meal together at home in your own kitchen. Not only is cooking a meal at home better for your wallet, but it is also better for the environment because it will mean less food waste and no to-go boxes. Donate to a cause Instead of exchanging gifts or indulging with an expensive night out, you can go eco-friendly this Valentine’s Day by making a donation to an environmental cause or animal shelter in your loved one’s name. Or, you can go further than a donation and save an animal from a shelter by giving a shelter dog or cat as a gift. Just make sure that your significant other actually wants a pet. Related: Green Valentine gifts for Earth-loving sweethearts Make your own bath products A hot bubble bath with your Valentine is a great way to spend the evening, but there is no need to buy bath and body products from chain stores or big box stores. Instead, make your own bath salts, bath bombs, sugar scrubs or bath oils. There are plenty of recipes on the internet and most of them use natural ingredients. Plant a tree Skip the cut flowers this Valentine’s Day and instead plant a tree together as an ongoing reminder of your love and your relationship. If you aren’t ready for a tree, you can opt for a plant. And, if you still want to see beautiful flowers on the holiday, visit a botanical garden or nature reserve and take a romantic stroll. Use eco-friendly protection and undies Go green in the bedroom this Valentine’s Day with vegan condoms from companies like Sustain Natural, Glyde, L. or Lovability. Traditional condom companies aren’t very forthcoming with their ingredients, so we don’t know how long it takes for them to biodegrade. So, to stay eco-friendly this Valentine’s Day, go vegan — at least in the bedroom. Via Sierra Club Images via Sharon McCutcheon , Shutterstock

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Californias Monarch butterfly population hits ‘potentially catastrophic’ low in 2018

January 11, 2019 by  
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California’s Monarch butterfly population hit a record low in 2018 after dropping a whopping 86 percent from the previous year. According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the total population has declined 97 percent since the 1980s, but this latest one year drop is “potentially catastrophic.” In the western part of the United States, monarchs migrate to California for the winter, traveling from Idaho and Utah. In 2017, the traditional California coastal sites like Pismo Beach, Big Sur and Pacific Grove hosted about 148,000 monarchs, but in 2018, volunteers counted approximately 20,500. Compare that population to the 1980s, says one of the study’s researchers Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver. At that time, an estimated 10 million monarchs spent their winter in California. According to experts, butterflies are incredibly significant to the state because they quickly respond to ecological changes and warn us about the health of an ecosystem . Plus, they pollinate flowers. According to biologist Emma Pelton, if nothing is done to preserve the western monarchs and their habitat, monarch butterflies could be facing extinction. They require milkweed for breeding and migration, but in recent years pesticide use and urban development have caused the acreage of milkweed to decline. Unusually harsh weather has also threatened the monarch’s existence. Between 2011 and 2017, California has experienced one of the worst droughts on record, and this has caused ecological devastation among forested towns and fishing communities because hundreds of millions of trees have died. Not to mention, the recent deadly wildfires  that have devastated the golden state. However, the declining monarch population can be reversed if citizens and governments act now. Pelton says that gardeners can plant milkweed and towns can help by planting new trees to help monarch butterfiles 20 years from now have a new place to winter. “We don’t think it is too late to act,” Pelton said. “But everyone needs to step up their effort.” Via New York Times Image via OLID56

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Artist revamps dingy interior of a 1962 Airstream with vibrant florals

September 6, 2018 by  
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While most Airstream renovations tend to go for a minimalist aesthetic to create the illusion of more space, surface pattern designer  Bonnie Christine used her love of florals to convert her 1962 Airstream trailer into a gorgeous home on wheels. To transform the formerly drab interior, Bonnie lined various accent walls in wallpaper with a forest green background and light pink flowers to add a fresh and vibrant flair to the incredibly compact 150-square-foot tiny home. Bonnie and her husband bought the 1962 Airstream Overlander in order to take their family of four on the road. However, the interior was in dire need of a makeover before they could set out on their travels. To completely revamp the living space , the talented surface pattern and fabric designer used her artistic skills to create a fresh new aesthetic. Related: Couple restores an old Airstream into a chic tiny home on wheels Renamed “Marjorie” after the original owner, the project is an example of an Airstream renovation done right. Bonnie began Marjorie’s makeover in the kitchen, where she stained and rebuilt the cabinets before painting them in a soothing green tone. Using this earthy moss color as a starting point, the space then needed a little extra vibrancy, which came in the form of the “Pimpernel” wallpaper by William Morris. Bonnie says that although the floral wallpaper was a bold decision, it was also an easy one. “As a surface pattern designer, I also wanted to give a nod to the father of surface design himself by using a William Morris wallpaper,” Bonnie explained in an interview with Design*Sponge . “I find it endlessly inspiring!” The rest of the tiny home is equally as inspiring, with a fresh decor that brightens up every corner of the compact living space. A small dinette set was kept in neutral colors to contrast the floral wallpaper, and the kitchen uses shelving and storage to avoid clutter. Even the home’s itsy-bitsy bathroom gives off a spa-like feel. To complete the ethereal atmosphere, the entire living space is flooded with natural light . The family has clocked several thousand miles since the renovation, traveling from North Carolina to the Grand Canyon in their shiny Airstream, with many stops in between. Bonnie explained that traveling in a tiny home has opened up a world of adventure for the family. “I am most thankful for what this tiny home represents — the ability for our family to be completely mobile,” Bonnie said. “We can go for a small weekend trip, or set out on a cross-country adventure with our home right along with us. There’s nothing more grand than seeing the wonders of nature and the great outdoors through our children’s eyes!” + Bonnie Christine Via Design*Sponge Photography by Bonnie Christine

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Artist revamps dingy interior of a 1962 Airstream with vibrant florals

Ryuji Kajino converts an 80-year-old barn into a gorgeous atelier

June 12, 2018 by  
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Architect Ryuji Kajino from Malubishi Architects has just unveiled the Tiny Atelier — a one-room work studio crafted with the remnants of an 80-year-old timber barn that previously stood on the same site. The minimalist work space, which was created for a designer who makes accessories from dried flowers, was built with timber, old beams and roof tiles repurposed from the existing barn. Located in Kurashiki, Japan, the work space was built for a designer who lives on a hilltop lot that overlooks the Seto Inland Sea in the distance. A covered porch leads from her home to the new studio, which is surrounded by greenery. In fact, the artist grows the flowers for her accessories in the onsite garden. Related: The Cornelia tiny house is a peaceful writer’s studio built with reclaimed wood The architect wanted to retain as many of the materials from the old barn as possible. The structure includes a new pitched roof topped with tiles from the existing barn. Inside, exposed log beams on the timber-lined ceiling pay homage to the former building. Vertical wooden boards  clad the petite studio, except for the front door, which has a diagonal pattern and custom-made chestnut handle. Large windows provide an abundance of natural light as well as beautiful views of the valley below. The room’s biggest window sits in a timber frame constructed with both old and new wooden pillars, again marking the transition from past to present. The office design embraces minimalism with sparse furniture and a wraparound white shelf built high up on the wall to provide space for drying flowers. According to the architect, re-using the barn’s old materials enabled him to create the atelier space as a nod to the local history. “Utilizing the materials that can be used by existing barns, we inherited the history that this site had been walking on,” explained Kajino, “but also aimed at a new architecture mixed old and new materials as a future architectural building.” + Ryuji Kajino Via Dezeen Images via Ryuji Kajino

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Ryuji Kajino converts an 80-year-old barn into a gorgeous atelier

Bee Saving Paper "works like an energy drink for bees"

June 4, 2018 by  
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Urban development and industrialization hasn’t been great for bees — they have to fly longer distances, which has played a role in their declines, according to the initiative City Bees. The initiative’s  Bee Saving Paper  offers a juicy solution: biodegradable paper that functions like a bee energy drink. Out of 469 bee species in Poland, 222 are on the verge of extinction, and the sad story is similar around the world. City Bees teamed up with Saatchi & Saatchi IS Warsaw , Manufaktura Papieru Czerpanego w Koby?ce , paper craftsmen and entomology experts to create Bee Saving Paper, a bee-friendly product with many uses: bags, coffee cup sleeves, picnic plates and more. Related: Vacant lots are being transformed into urban bee farms in Detroit How does this product work? It’s created with what the initiative called an energy-rich glucose that won’t make the paper sticky but is appealing for the buzzing insects . Seeds from the Lacy Phacelia plant are also incorporated in the paper . Finally, a water-based UV paint helps attract bees to the paper; the paint is applied in a pattern of what bees see as red circles, similar to how they view meadows. The designers hope bees consume the glucose and collect the Lacy Phacelia seeds to redistribute them so they grow into flowers . “We’ve managed to develop and produce what is probably the first paper nature would not only like you to use, but maybe even to drop,” project senior creatives Tomasz Bujok and Anna Gadecka said. “We know our innovation won’t solve the worldwide problem of the declining bee population by itself, but we hope we’ll at least make people realize how important bees are to us.” Bee Saving Paper has been tested in the field by a beekeeper , the team said, and they’re ready to work with large brands and mass-produce the paper. You can find out more on their website . + Bee Saving Paper Images via Bee Saving Paper

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Bee Saving Paper "works like an energy drink for bees"

Planting wildflower strips across crop fields could slash pesticide use

February 2, 2018 by  
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Could wildflowers help us cut our use of pesticides ? The Guardian reported that colorful strips of the flowers have been planted through 15 large arable fields in England – instead of just around them – as part of a Center for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) trial. The wildflowers could boost natural pest predators, potentially helping us reduce our reliance on environmentally damaging pesticides. Concern has mounted over how pesticides are harming our environment , even as we struggle to feed all 7.4 billion humans on the planet. Scientists in the UK are seeking sustainable ways to grow food, and wildflowers could help. The flower strips on 15 farms were planted last fall, where researchers will monitor them over the next five years. Related: How one Bay Area couple plans to save the bees by planting one billion wildflowers Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying https://t.co/L2l1tQJxdm by me @CEHScienceNews pic.twitter.com/kV4KavIjN5 — Damian Carrington (@dpcarrington) January 31, 2018 The Guardian pointed to research showing that use of wildflower margins to boost bugs like hoverflies, ground beetles, and parasitic wasps has cut pest numbers and even increased yields. But in the past, wildflowers were largely planted around fields instead of through them, making it harder for natural predators to get to the middle of large fields. GPS -guided harvesters now allow for crops to be reaped precisely, avoiding wildflower strips. Initial tests revealed planting stripes around 100 meters, or around 328 feet, apart, allowed predators to attack pests like aphids throughout a field. In the field trials, strips are around 20-feet-wide, and take up two percent of the total field area, The Guardian reports. Oxeye daisy, wild carrot, common knapweed, and red clover are among the flowers planted. Scientists will be watching to see if drawing insects into the middle of fields “does more harm than good.” CEH scientist Richard Pywell told The Guardian the ideal is that natural predators keep pests in check over the years so farmers would never have to spray pesticides. The Guardian said similar tests are happening in Switzerland, with flowers like dill, cornflowers, poppy, coriander, and buckwheat. Via The Guardian Images via Henry Be on Unsplash and Wikimedia Commons

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