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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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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Wild Begamot-for Pollinators

Wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa is blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. This perennial plant is native to Nebraska and found through out North America. It reaches heights of 2 to 5 feet tall. The flowers are light purple and is an important pollinator plant to bumblebees, skippers, swallowtails, monarchs, solider beetles, wasp, leaf cutter bees and sweat bees.

MJ Frogge

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June: Leaf Cutter Bees & Flowers

Lots of activity in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat this month. Soni added new blocks to the solitary bee house. It did not take long for solitary leaf cutter bees to start filling them up.

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There is also many flowers blooming this month. Common milkweed, butterfly milkweed, purple poppy mallow and yellow sweet clover.

MJ Frogge

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Frosty Day in the Habitat

Winter is here at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. The insect hotel we built in 2013 is still holding up well. It is filled with pine cones, logs, twigs, bark, rolled corrugated cardboard and egg cartons. These items are nice hiding places for insects.  Beneficial insects like lady bugs and lacewing over winter as adults, so they need a place to spend winter months. Consider constructing one in your pollinator habitat next year.

MJ Frogge

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New Educational Signs!

This week Chris finished up installing our new educational signs in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. We had moisture issues and ants nesting in our previous sign frames. Very frustrating!  Jenny helped us with the process of getting replacement frames. These frames were a different size, so new signs needed to be ordered. Vicki updated and ordered our educational signs and when they arrived, Chris installed them.  We are so pleased to have them since they are an important educational features in our pollinator habitat.

MJ Frogge

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