Spring Flowers

Near the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat wild plum and willow trees are blooming. These plants are important early blooming flowers for pollinators. Wild violets and dandelions are also blooming. Yesterday we taught youth about habitats at an outdoor education event at a nearby state park. It was great to show the students the early blooming flowers we saw, white trout lily and Dutchman’s breeches. Hope you can get outside this weekend and see what is blooming.

MJ Frogge

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Spring Is Here!

Yesterday, March 20, was the Spring Equinox. Spring is here and we are so grateful. Nebraska has endured record snow fall and flooding, so we are happy to have sunny spring weather.

Now is a good time to think about what plants you could add to your pollinator habitat. The Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification program has an excellent list of spring, summer and fall blooming plants that are native to Nebraska. Look over the impressive plant list and also consider certifying your pollinator habitat. Learn more at this link: https://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification

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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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

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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

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