Teaching Youth about Pollinators

Last Thursday Soni and I spent the day teaching 4th and 5th graders about pollinators at the Outdoor Discovery Program held every year at Platte River State Park hosted by Nebraska Game and Parks. The day started out chilly, but by afternoon we were able to see many pollinators and the kids were able to stretch out in the grassy area and work in their field journals. We found out the attending youth knew what pollination means, what pollinators are and how they are important.  What we were able to add to their knowledge was very interesting to them.  We discussed native pollinators and showed them nesting bee blocks with the leaf cutter bees still in them ready to emerge. The importance of early blooming plants, like dandelions, which they considered weeds, was a surprise to them. The discussion turned to what food crops needed pollinators to produce, like tomatoes, apples and almonds. By the end of each session, the kids had a better understanding of our native pollinators and how their habitat is important to protect.  It was a very fun day for all of us and it is great to partner with Nebraska Game and Parks in youth outdoor education.

MJ Frogge

Milkweed and Monarchs

Milkweed plants

Milkweed plants in the Cherry Creek Habitat.

Milkweed and Monarchs are in the news today.  The Lincoln Journal has a nice article on the Monarch Plan that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and other groups, including Nebraska Extension, started last year during the Monarch Summit.  Planting milkweed is a priority.  Read more:

http://journalstar.com/news/local/milkweed-by-the-masses-nebraska-eyes-new-habitat-goal-for/article_dd05728c-c304-597f-a500-778c3e2f4d18.html

Monarchs have also been sighted in Nebraska!  They are very early and there is concern for them due to April’s inconsistent weather. Read more:

Not Yet, Monarchs, Not Yet!

The common milkweed is up in the Cherry Creek Habitat and in my habitat at home as well. Consider planting more milkweed in your habitat this year. There are several different ones to plant. The flowers are unique and beautiful.

MJ Frogge

If you are interested in keeping track of the Monarch Migration, you can do that with Monarch Watch. http://www.monarchwatch.org/tagmig/index.htm

Want to become a citizen scientist? Learn more about Milkweed Watch. http://milkweedwatch.unl.edu/

Make Your Own Bee House

You still have time this spring to build your own bee house for solitary bees like leaf cutter bees.  It does not need to be as large as the one located in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

The NebGuide: Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel will help you make one.  Start today!

http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g2256.pdf

MJ Frogge

Four sizes of bee houses. Pick a size that works best in your habitat.

Four sizes of bee houses. Pick one that works best in your habitat.

beehouseJackMorris

Master Gardener Jack’s bee house.

tombeehouse

Master Gardener Tom’s bee house.

Nebraskans Care About Pollinators

Nearly 70 people attended the Pollinator Class and Open House last night at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat located at the Lancaster County Extension Office. Those attending included Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification members, Master Gardeners and citizens from several southeastern Nebraska communities who wanted to know more about pollinators and the Habitat Certification program.  After a habitat tour, delicious food and a power point program on the benefits of pollinators, the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Team held a Q&A session. Great discussion and concern expressed on how to help pollinators and increase habitat. A perfect evening!

MJ Frogge

Pollinator Class & Open House

On April 6 the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat is the venue for a Pollinator Class and Open House.  The Nebraska Pollinator Certification Team is hosting this event to recognize the 30 Certified Habitats and invite the public to learn more about the program and pollinators. Pre-registration is required by April 3.

For Registration: http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/PollinatorClass17.pdf

MJ Frogge

habitataster15

Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat Summer 2015

Pollinator Class and Open House
Thursday, April 6, 6–8 p.m.
Lancaster Extension Education Center
444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln NE
Pre-registration is required by April 3.
Hors d’oeuvre will be served from 6–7 p.m., followed by pollinator presentation.
Cost is $5 per person

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from all of us here at Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County!

Today, we recycled the fall decorations from our office by placing them into the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. It will be fun to watch the wildlife on the live camera as they check out the pumpkins, squash and cornstalks. You can watch at http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/bees.shtml

While working around the insect hotel, I noticed an opossum has been raiding the black oil sunflower seeds, chewing the seeds up and then regurgitating almond-sized pellets or “nuggets”. People sometimes notice these same pellets around bird feeders and aren’t sure what they are! Now, you know!

To learn how to create your own pollinator-friendly habitat, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/bees.shtml.

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

“For the golden corn
and the apples on the tree,
For the golden butter
and honey for our tea;
For fruits and nuts and
berries, that grow
beside the way
For birds and bees and
flowers, we give thanks
every day”
–author unknown

It is Official! Certified Habitat

This week we received our Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification for the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.  Our habitat earned a certificate and we also have an attractive sign to proudly display.

habitatsign

Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification sign for the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

So what does this mean to have a Habitat Certification?

We have made the commitment to protect pollinators by:

Providing a diversity of plant material essential to providing both nectar and pollen to support a healthy ecosystem. We use plants that provide pollen and nectar sources from early spring to late fall, provide a diversity of plants, flower shapes and flower sizes, choose older cultivars and  heirloom varieties of annuals and limit newer introductions, incorporate pollinator friendly native plants into the garden and place plants in masses (three or more) to attract pollinators.

Provide water, shelter and nesting areas for pollinators.

Practice conservation practices to protect and support pollinators by reducing lawn areas, maintain a layer of organic mulch over tree roots, shrubs and plant beds, plant groundcovers or use mulch on thinly vegetated areas to decrease erosion, avoid chemical pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides where possible, use a rain barrel or other means of capturing/utilizing rainwater to irrigate plants and water plants only when necessary.

If you are interested in certifying your garden or want to learn the requirements, please visit the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification site to see the application.

http://go.unl.edu/pollinatorhabitat

MJ Frogge

The August 2016 Issue of the NEBLINE is on-line!

The August NEBLINE Newsletter is now online. This is a free resource from our office and this month you’ll find information on making the recycled bee nesting tubes and creating healthy habitats for beneficial insects. Enjoy and Here’s to Sharing the “Buzz” – Soni

Home Wise! Family Smart!

The NEBLINE Newsletter

The August issue of the free NEBLINE newsletter is now on-line. Visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/nebline and click on the link to the August 2016 NEBLINE!

Here are some of the articles featured in this issue – – – –

  • 4-H Clover College 20th Anniversary
  • Cool Summer Salads – You can make salads in a jar & Two Ingredient Vinaigrette Recipe for Salads
  • Using La Niña to Forecast the Weather
  • Inheriting a Farm, Seminar Aug. 17 (Local program)
  • Don’t Banish the Booster Until Children Are 57″ Tall
  • All Ears for Earwigs
  • Diversity is the Key to Attracting Wildlife
  • Choosing a Birdbath
  • Helping Pollinators: Build a Solitary Bee Nest Using Recycled Materials
  • August Garden Guide
  • Grow Your Own Pest Control: Creating Habitat for Beneficial Insects
  • Lincoln Center Kiwanis Receives the August Heart of 4-H Award
  • 4-H’ers Test Family and Consumer Science, Entrepreneurship Skills at Life Challenge & Animal Science Skills at PASE
  • Emerald Ash Borer Seminars Offered…

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She’s a Killer, a Cicada Killer

You may see one of these amazing wasp on one of the flowering plants in your garden. Learn more about Nebraska’s largest wasp.

Home Wise! Family Smart!

The annual or dog-day cicadas are back for their free daily concerts which I call, “The Sound of Summer”. Anyone who isn’t familiar with the cicada sounds, can look and listen to this video that I took of a cicada over the long weekend.

This post isn’t about the cicada, but a predator of the cicada called the cicada killer wasp. They are out and about right now, scaring homeowners who are concerned about being stung by these huge wasps.

Cicada killer wasp is a large wasp on sedum Cicada killer wasp is a large (up to 2″ long), black wasp with bright yellow markings on the abdomen. Adult wasps feed on nectar and larvae feed on cicadas.

The cicada killer is the largest species of wasp in Nebraska. They are sometimes mistaken for killer bees, yellow jackets or hornets but they are a type of solitary wasp. Solitary wasps do not live in large colonies with multiple individuals…

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Summer Blooming Plants for Pollinators

To celebrate pollinator week consider certifying your landscape in the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification program. Summer flowering plants that bloom in June and July are an important section of the application.  Your pollinator habitat must have plant diversity and long blooming plants are necessary for every pollinator habitat. To see the application, visit this web site: http://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification

MJ Frogge

June and July Blooming Plants

Allium cernuum – Nodding Onion
Amorpha canescens – Leadplant
Aruncus dioicus – Goat’s Beard
Asclepias sp. – Milkweed
 Cepholanthus occidentalis – Buttonbush
Coreopsis lanceolata – Tickseed
Coreopsis tinctoria – Plains Coreopsis
Dalea purpurea – Purple Prairie Clover
Echinacea angustifolia – Narrowleaf Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower
Gaillardia sp. – Blanketflower
Liatris sp. – Gayfeather
Monarda sp. – Bee Balm
Packera plattensis – Prairie Groundsel
Oenothera sp.  – Evening Primrose
Penstemon cobaea – Prairie Penstemon
Penstemon digitalis – Beardtongue
Penstemon grandiflorus – Large Beardtongue
Rosa arkansana – Prairie Rose
Rosa blanda – Smooth Rose
Rosa carolina – Carolina Rose
Ruellia humilis – Wild Petunia
Silphium perfoliatum
Tilia sp. – Linden
Tradescantia sp. – Spiderwort
Verbenena canadensis – Rose Vervain
Veronicastrum virginicum – Culver’s Root
Arenaria hookeri – Hooker’s Sandwort
Callirhoe involucrata – Purple Poppymallow
Calylophus serrulatus – Yellow Sundrops
Erigeron sp. – Fleabane