Painted Ladies Everywhere!

During the month of September we have enjoyed the migration of painted lady butterflies. Entomologists suggest the high population is because of a great summer season of breeding that boosted the population.  Omaha, Lincoln and the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat have experienced large populations this month. Neighboring states, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas have seen increased populations as well. Enjoy them while they are here.

MJ Froggepainted ladies

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September Blooming

The Cherry Creek Pollinator habitat is full of color and life. There are so many important native plants blooming now. These plants are important because they are used by migrating butterflies like monarch and painted ladies. They are also important to the native bees and other beneficial insects that will be active until the first hard frost. Blooming in the habitat right now is smooth aster, tall thistle, sawtooth sunflower, goldenrod and pitcher sage.

MJ Frogge

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Pollinator Talks & Tours – August 3 in Lincoln, Nebraska

The Pollinator Talks & Tours on August 3 is a terrific opportunity to learn more about pollinators, plants and take a tour of pollinator habitats. The tours will be led by staff from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Entomology, Backyard Farmer, Nebraska By Heart, Nebraska Forest Service and Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.

All events (with the exception of the 2 p.m. tour) begin from the Backyard Farmer (BYF) gardens east of UNL Keim Hall, 1825 N. 38th St in Lincoln, Nebraska.

At the BYF garden, FREE herbal tea will be available and for kids—pollinator activities, face-painting and make-your-own antennae.

Schedule of Events:

  • 9 a.m. Tour of “Nebraska by Heart” installations on UNL east campus
  • 10 and 11 a.m. Tours of the BYF garden and Maxwell, with a focus on plants for pollinators
  • 12 p.m. Brown-bag on monarchs by Shauna Groenewold, Citizen Scientist & Monarch Enthusiast
  • 2 p.m. Tour of Union Plaza pollinator plants starting from 2228 N. 21 St.

This event is sponsored by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, arboretum@unl.edu, 402-472-2971.

Event Links:

Looking for more family fun on August 3?

Enjoy the Pollinator Tours and Talks and then head over to the first official day of the Lancaster County Super Fair in Lincoln! Details at http://superfair.org

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

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

Culver’s Root, Must Have Pollinator Plant

Culver’s root, Veronicastrum virginicum, is an impressive plant and quite stunning in full bloom. I have this flowering in my home pollinator habitat now and just love it! The flowers are white and resemble an elegant candelabra. It blooms from late June into August. It can reach heights of 3-6 feet tall and adds an amazing vertical element to the landscape. Culver’s root is native to Nebraska and prefers a moist site. It grows well in full sun to part shade. It is an herbaceous perennial that grows in a clump with a rhizome root system, but is not aggressive. Culver’s root has lance-shaped, whorled leaves that are dark green and attractive through the season.

Culver’s root is important to many native pollinators. This plant is visited by leafcutter bees, bumblebees, sweat bees, syrphid flies, red admiral butterflies and soldier beetles.

There are no serious insect or disease problems with Culver’s root. Long flower spikes provide a noticeable accent and impressive vertical height for landscape borders, rain gardens or pollinator habitats.

MJ Frogge

Culver's Root in LandscapeCulver's Root

Annual Flowers

Annual flowers are an important addition to a pollinator habitat. They bloom all summer and into the fall. They fill the void if your habitat is new and the perennial flowers are not blooming yet. Sulphur cosmos,  larkspur, blue salvia, gomphrena, sweet alyssum, zinnia and sunflower are just a few annual flowers to add to your landscape to help pollinators.

MJ Frogge

Plant Herbs

We have garden thyme blooming in Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.  Soon I will be planting basil, dill, borage and parsley.  Herbs are important plants to have in a pollinator habitat.  The flowers are visited by bees and butterflies.  Many butterfly caterpillars feed on the leaves of dill, borage, parsley and other herbs.  If you plant several plants, you may get a few herbs for yourself!

MJ Frogge

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Monarch Eggs

So I was curious. With all the reports of monarchs already seen in Nebraska, I went out to the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat this morning to look for eggs. It did not take long for me to find one on a common milkweed. Wow, its May 5th!  I checked other plants and found one more. Keep in mind that these eggs were probably laid by a monarch butterfly that got blown 1500 miles from Mexico. After all those miles it still was able to find a milkweed and lay its eggs. It should have only had to travel as far as Texas and lay its eggs there. Then the butterflies from those eggs would have traveled north to Nebraska later this month. Nature is beyond amazing.

MJ Frogge

milkweed monarch egg

Monarch butterfly egg on common milkweed, May 5!

Monarch Migration

The monarch migration has begun! We are seeing so many monarchs in the Cherry Creek habitat this week. This is really good news.  Thousands of monarchs died in Mexico due to a surprise snow storm, in March, before they started their migration this spring. The fact that there are so many this fall is a good sign.  We will remain hopeful that the population will rebound.

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Monarch on zinnia in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat in September.

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Several monarchs on the zinnias in the pollinator habitat during fall migration.

To continue helping monarchs and other pollinators in the fall it is important to have fall blooming perennial plants like asters and tall sedum.  Also consider annual flowers such as zinnias and sunflowers in the landscape too.

Enjoy the great fall weather!

MJ

Where have the butterflies gone?

Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar in parsley. Photo by Jody Green

Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar in parsley. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

As I drove home yesterday, a monarch butterfly flew very near my truck! I was relieved to have missed it (or it missed me!) Unlike other years, I just haven’t encountered a lot of butterflies in my pollinator garden at home or on the road.

Are you seeing butterflies and moths? Are you also wondering where the butterflies have gone? I’ve gotten several calls from people who grow host plants in their landscapes specifically for butterflies. Some call me every year to report what they are seeing. But, like my own garden, people are reporting very few butterflies or caterpillars. Continue reading