Butterfly Visit

Yesterday while in the Cherry Creek Habitat I noticed a stunning butterfly sunning itself on the insect hotel.  Identifying it as a Mourning Cloak, I researched this butterfly and found some interesting facts.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

Mourning Cloak butterfly










Mourning Cloaks are one of the few butterflies that survive the winter as an adult.  They find a sheltered location like a hollow tree, under shutters or shingles, behind a loose piece of bark or in a wood pile.  Our insect hotel would be the perfect location for this kind of butterfly to overwinter or seek protection from the cold nights we had experienced the past few weeks.

I also learned that the eggs are laid in masses on cottonwood, willow and hackberry trees.  We have all three of these trees located behind our insect hotel we built last fall.

I am so pleased our habitat is already attracting insect visitors.  This is what we had hoped for when we started our project. We are planting more shrubs, perennials, herbs and annual flowers this week.



We are in business!

Bee Hotel

Looking west – Native Bee Nest Box is finally outside

The native bee nest box structure that has graced our office lobby this winter has been moved outdoors into the Cherry Creek Habitat. We did as much as we could to make the structure weather sturdy. The bookshelf/roof and table were treated to be water resistant. The back was covered with a special material and today, I finished up the structure with some caulking. The nesting blocks were put in place and now we wait… OK – honestly, it looks terrific!

We keep adding to the pollinator area with natives, herbs, fruiting shrubs and grasses. Oregano, serviceberry, penstemon, blue vervain were planted this morning. We have native chokecherry and wild plum waiting for their turn. MJ bought some prairie plants at the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum sale on Friday. She also planted a row of special sunflowers with her daughter over the weekend.

As for wildlife, a pair of red-winged blackbirds have a nest in the cattails behind the native bee nest box structure. They didn’t scold me quite as much today when I was outside working in the habitat. On Friday, there were several Baltimore Orioles in the Cottonwood tree. Grackles have been busy robbing the insect hotel of anything they can make nests out of and of course, we are finding deer tracks in the habitat after it rains.

One of our biggest challenges may be educating our own staff that not all thistles are bad. We have a beautiful second year tall thistle in the habitat. We decided it needed a special sign so it wouldn’t get dug up from helpful folks thinking it is a  noxious weed (it isn’t noxious by the way)… more on that another time 🙂

Here’s to sharing the buzz!


UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

More Bee Hotels Popping Up in Lincoln

Bee Nest Box Structure - Bee Hotel

Bee Nest Box for the Cherry Creek Habitat

The Daily Nebraskan is a student newspaper at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Today the paper featured a story about “bee hotels” on East Campus and an upcoming UNL Publication – NebGuide to encourage folks to build their own.

We’re excited everyone is promoting the preservation of native bees!

Here is a link to the article in the Daily Nebraskan – “Hoping to preserve bee populations, UNL opens bee hotels”

When the NebGuide is finished, we’ll be sure to post a link. In the meantime, we have a resource for you to help get you started “Attracting Pollinators to Your Landscape“. It includes information on making bee nest boxes.

And don’t forget the bumble bees! Here is a link to build your own bumble bee domicile from the UNL Bumble Boosters.

Here’s to sharing the buzz!


UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu