Last week I attended the UNL Entomology, Agronomy and Horticulture Pollinator Garden and Outdoor Classroom open house. This new garden is located on East Campus in the teaching gardens. Dr. Doug Golick, from the UNL Entomology Department led the tour. Pollinator plots have been seeded with native plants. A water wise garden area, pollinator food plot and larval habitat are also part of this pollinator garden. We viewed many pollinators while we toured the garden.
Nebraska Extension is in the process of forming nineteen new issue teams. I joined the “Protect beneficial insect ecosystems including pollinators” Team. In November this new state wide team will meet for the first time to discuss and plan our mission for the coming year. This team was organized because Nebraskans see beneficial insects and pollinators as a priority.
Pollinator Garden and Outdoor Classroom on East Campus.
Water wise garden.
Honeycomb structure in pollinator garden.
Open house for UNL Entomology, Agronomy and Horticulture Pollinator Garden and Outdoor Classroom.
Southern Plains bumblebee on purple cone flower.
Sometimes we get lucky and see wildlife in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Today it was a gray tree frog. The bee house is not just for solitary bees after all.
Can you see the tree frog?
Tree frog resting in the solitary bee house.
Asters are one of my favorite flowers. Smooth aster, Aster laevis, is blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. This native aster produces an abundance of lavender-blue flowers through late autumn.
Smooth Aster is upright with arching branches and reaches 3 feet tall. It easily grows in dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Asters are a must for your perennial garden. All bees, bumble bees and butterflies flock to asters. They are an excellent stopover plant for migrating Monarchs.
Bumble bee on Pitcher’s sage.
Pitcher’s sage (Salvia azurea) has been blooming in the habitat for a few weeks. It has an amazing blue color. This native perennial is in the mint family, but is not an aggressive spreader. The stems are tall and erect, with the plant reaching a height of 2-5 feet. Plant it in full sun. Nearly every day this month, I see bumble bees on the flowers of this plant. They love it and so will you.
Pitcher’s sage in the Cherry Creek Habitat.
Its HOT! Bees and other pollinators need fresh water to drink too. Add a bee water station in your yard for bees and other animals to get a drink. Bird baths work fine too. Place a rock in the water station for the insects to land on when they visit.
Bee water station in Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.
Honey bee visiting a birdbath.
Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta) is one of my favorite native wildflowers.
Hoary vervain, a native wildflower.
It is blooming in the habitat now. The plant has beautiful purple-blue flowers and blooms for at least 6 weeks. It gets 2 feet tall and prefers drier soil conditions. I always see bumblebees visiting the flowers, as well as butterflies and solitary bees.
In the pollinator habitat today I notice a Monarch caterpillar feeding on a swamp milkweed flower. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs only on milkweed plants. Swamp milkweed is blooming now and the pink flowers are very attractive. We also have butterfly, common and whorled milkweeds growing in the habitat. Consider adding milkweeds to your perennial flower beds.
Monarch caterpillar on swamp milkweed.
The federal government in February, pledged $3.2 million to help save the monarch butterfly. In recent years, the species has experienced a 90 percent decline in population, with the lowest recorded population occurring in 2013-2014.
About $2 million will restore more than 200,000 acres of habitat from California to the mid-west, including approximately 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens. The rest will be used to start a conservation fund, the first dedicated solely to monarchs, that will provide grants to farmers and other landowners to conserve habitat.
This is exciting news. These gardens will benefit all pollinators and help raise awareness of habitat protection.
Posted in butterfly, Habitat, milkweed, Monarch, Plants, Pollinators
Tagged beneficial, butterfly, Education, flowers, habitat, insect, milkweed, Monarch
This morning Soni and I taught 4-H youth about pollinators in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. All week our office is hosting Clover College. For our Habitat Discovery session, youth did nature journaling, planted native plants in the habitat, planted sunflower seeds, installed a bee water source and made bee nesting tubes bundles for the bee nest box structure and insect hotel. At the end of the session the youth made nature journals and took home their own bee nest box to put in their landscape. Spending time educating youth about pollinators was a great way to finish Pollinator Week!
Youth journaling in habitat.
Boys on new bench in habitat.
Nature journaling in habitat.
Youth with their new bee houses to take home.
Posted in 4-H, Habitat, Nest box, Pollinators, youth
Tagged 4-H and Youth, bee nest box, beneficial, community, Education, Extension, habitat, insect
New pollinator sign installed at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.
We are so excited to have our new educational signs installed at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. The wet weather had slowed out progress this spring. With Chris’s help we were finally able to get them in place for Pollinator Week.
Soni and I had taken hundreds of pictures last year of native plants and pollinators we have in the habitat. We spent most of the winter months looking over our pictures and deciding what educational information we wanted to be included on our signs. Vicki, our Extension media specialist, did a fantastic job designing our signs and helping us share our message to those that visit our pollinator habitat.
Educational sign at the west entrance of the pollinator habitat.
Pollinator Week is June 15-21, 2015. There are many ways to celebrate pollinator week and we hope you will participate by helping pollinators in your landscape.
Purple poppy mallow in habitat.
New bench added to Cherry Creek habitat.
1. Plant Native Plants. Native flora provides native pollinators with food in the form of pollen and nectar. Select plants that have a long bloom time. Also grow a wide selection of plants so you have plants blooming April through October.
2. Let your yard get a little messy. Leave unhazardous snags for nesting places and stack down tree limbs to create a brush pile, which is a great source of cover for pollinators.
3. Create or protect water sources. Bees need water to drink. Create a water feature with rocks for insects to land. Be sure to keep birdbaths clean and change the water three times per week when mosquitoes are breeding.
4. Limit or eliminate pesticide use. By using fewer or no chemicals in the landscape you will help keep pollinator populations healthy.
5. Identify non-native invasive plants. Work to remove them from your yard. Do not bring any new invasive plants into your habitat. Invasive plants do not provide as much quality food or habitat as native plants do and can threaten healthy ecosystems.
Learn more about Pollinator Week in Nebraska: