Snowy Winter

The Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat has experienced a very snowy winter. With last night’s snow, Lincoln Nebraska has received over 40 inches of snow this winter season. There is another snow storm predicted for this weekend. I know we are all looking forward to spring.

MJ Frogge

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New Year Journaling Plans

Happy New Year!

This year I want to keep a journal of the insects, animals and blooming plants I see in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. There are many ways to keep a nature or field journal. It can be easy as a note book and pencil. You may decide to sketch or use watercolors to paint what you see. Try to make an entry at least once a week and have a much detail as possible. Make a list of animals or insects in your habitat, what plants are coming up or blooming, what the weather is like or when you see the first queen bumble bee. Keep track of the first tree frog call or cicada. Plan to spend some time in your habitat just observing. When the weather is a little warmer, sit outside and just watch. It is amazing what you see.

Keep your journal near the door or by your garden shoes, so you remember to grab it as you go out the door. Take pictures and use them to identify what insects and plants you see.  I keep a journal each year for my home gardens and pollinator habitat. I like to look back at past years to see when the snowdrops bloomed or saw the first monarch for the year. This is a fun project for kids too. It is a great way to get them outside and see nature around them.

MJ Frogge

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Put Your Christmas Tree to Good Use

In addition to pollinators, the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat is also visited by birds, deer, raccoons, rabbits, and more. Learn how you can recycle your Christmas tree to benefit wildlife in your own backyard.

Home Wise! Family Smart!

by Sarah Browning, Extension Educator – Horticulture

Add fruit garland to your Christmas Tree Add fruit garland to your Christmas Tree

Before taking your Christmas tree to the recycling center this year, consider using it to create backyard habitat for birds. To attract birds to your backyard, you must provide their three basic needs- food, water, and cover or shelter. Your old Christmas tree will provide excellent shelter for birds, providing protection from wind and predators. It can also serve as a feeding station, where you provide a buffet of food that our native birds love.

Before taking the tree outside, remove all decorations and lights, including tinsel. To provide the most shelter possible for the birds, place the tree on the south or east side of the house, sheltered from winter’s harsh north and west winds. Anchor the tree securely by setting the stump into the ground or a large bucket of damp sand, and securing…

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Bird Feeders

Today was a nice and sunny day to hang our bird feeders in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. We have American goldfinch, northern cardinals and dark-eyed juncos visit our habitat.  It is important to leave native grasses and plant cover for them during the winter months.

MJ Frogge

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Snow!

Snow has come early to the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. We usually have a long fall season, but not this year. We have had three snow storms and more is predicted for the weekend. We have good cover in the habitat for wildlife and many plant stalks with seed heads for seed eating birds. The habitat is still an active place in the winter.

MJ Frogge

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Fall Habitat Day

This morning Nebraska Extension Lancaster County Master Gardeners volunteered and helped me in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. We had plenty of wonderful rain this year. So the Habitat got a bit over grown. We found the path, bench and picnic table, they were all over grown with native plants and a few weeds. We took out the weeds, cut back a few native grasses, but left everything else. It is important to leave plant material in pollinator habitats for overwintering insects and praying mantis egg cases. Many wildflowers like milkweed and Rudbeckia are dropping seeds now for plants next year. Birds like, American goldfinch, are seed eaters. Leaving the native tall thistle is an important food source for them. I hope we have many more beautiful fall days like today.

MJ Frogge

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Last Summer Day

Yesterday was probably our last summer day. It was 93 degrees, hot and windy. Butterflies and bees were taking advantage of the nice weather in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. The smooth aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) was loaded with monarchs, red admirals, bordered patch butterflies and bees. Cool weather and rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week.

MJ Frogge

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Crab Spiders

We see many crab spiders in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. They blend in with the flowers and position themselves to grab the unsuspecting insect, many times a pollinator, for their next meal.  I have talked with many gardeners who are distressed over crab spiders eating pollinators in their habitat. I understand this, I have seen many butterflies and bees eaten by these and other spiders. We must remember predators are important to a healthy habitat. They help balance the population and also feed on pest insects. There are many other predators in the habitat too, like praying mantis, ladybugs and assassin bugs.

MJ Frogge

crabsiderbrowneyedSusan

Butterflies!

We are finding many butterflies and skippers in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Swallowtails and monarch butterflies numbers have increased this month. It is important to have a variety of annuals, perennials and native flowers blooming now through our first frost for our pollinators. Late summer and fall blooming plants include sunflowers, tall thistle, swamp milkweed, goldenrod and asters.

MJ Frogge

swallowtailbutterflyMonarchbutterfly

Wild Begamot-for Pollinators

Wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa is blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. This perennial plant is native to Nebraska and found through out North America. It reaches heights of 2 to 5 feet tall. The flowers are light purple and is an important pollinator plant to bumblebees, skippers, swallowtails, monarchs, solider beetles, wasp, leaf cutter bees and sweat bees.

MJ Frogge

Monarda fistulosawild bergamot