Out, Darn Desk Jockey! Outdoors, that is

Confession: I eat lunch at my desk. A lot. I know I shouldn’t, but my inner workaholic usually wins the fight. But this time of year, that inner voice is drowned out by another, equally obsessive voice: the desire to go outdoors. It’s a primal urge, and a healthy one. But one I—and thousands of … Read more

Clean water runs through EcoMyths’ veins

Welcome to EcoMyths’ new website. We have a new look, but the same mission: to bring you simple nuggets of information about nature that are relevant to your daily life – and to have some fun with it! EcoMyths’ partners started busting myths in January 2009, inspired by the MythBusters TV show on Discovery Channel. Our … Read more

Myth: The Chicago River Is Toilet Water

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To tackle some lingering myths about the Chicago River, let’s start with a pop quiz. Which of the following describes the river? A nature haven A paddler’s paradise Toilet water Really green every March 17 All of the above The answer is 5. Wait a minute. Sure, everyone knows that dyeing the Chicago River green … Read more

Myth: Pesticides Only Kill Bad Bugs

Can We Use Pesticides Without Harming Beneficial Bugs? ~ Do not draw your sword to kill a fly – Korean Proverb Whether you’re wrangling with Japanese beetles munching on your flowers, slugs eating holes in your vegetables, or caterpillars feasting on your trees, it’s tempting to use pesticides to solve the problem. And it’s easy … Read more

Myth: Fertilizers Are Good for All Plants

When you walk into your local lawn and garden store you’d like to think that they’ve done their homework. The products they’ve put on display will all be perfect for your region, everything will perform as expected and none of it will stir up any environmental mayhem. And what could be more worry-free than fertilizer? … Read more

Myth: Earthworms Are Native to the U.S.

Spring is upon us. With the snow off the ground (for now at least), and little new growth to obscure our view of the soil, it is easy to see the early stirrings of earthworm activity. Earthworm castings, neat piles of worm poop deposited on the surface as the worms busy themselves with their soil-work, … Read more

Myth: The Earth Under Our Feet in Chicago Is All Landfill

Soils in urban areas are poorly understood. Indeed, until most recently, federal and state efforts devoted to the inventory and classification of soil have been focused on agricultural, rangeland, and forest regions. As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, more attention must be paid to studying urban soil, particularly with respect to urban agriculture and food … Read more

Myth: Mulching Your Garden Is Good for the Environment

Mulch Ado About Weed Control Anyone who listens to the news is going to be uncomfortable using chemical weed killer to control weeds in a home garden. Although many are touted as safe, herbicides do seem to have a way of getting linked to unexpected health hazards. The obvious, safer solution is to use mulch … Read more

Myth: Once a Wetland Is Gone, It’s Gone for Good

Wetlands provide valuable services for society, including cleaner water and keeping pesky mosquitoes in check. The sad fact, however, is that a significant portion of wetlands in the United States has been lost in the name of economic development. In Illinois alone, over 85 percent of the original wetlands in existence in 1780 have been … Read more

Myth: More Wetlands Equals More Mosquitoes

In the mood to blame wetlands for the blood-sucking, possible disease-spreading skeeters in your yard? It’s an urban legend that wetlands are a primary source of the mosquitoes that spread diseases like West Nile Virus. In fact, a healthy, functioning wetland can actually help reduce mosquito populations. A vibrant wetland ecosystem is home to fish, … Read more