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.

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Master Gardener Jack’s bee house.

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Master Gardener Tom’s bee house.

What is Blooming in April?

What is blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat in April? Today I found pasque flower, wild plum, redbud and dandelions. Yes, we have dandelions in the pollinator habitat.  They are a great early blooming plant for pollinators.  I found tiny native bees visiting the plants.  Let a few plants remain and bloom in your habitat.  Remove the dead flowers before they go to seed.

MJ Frogge

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

Spring Flowering Bulbs

One of my favorite plants is blooming now, Snowdrops! This stunning and tough little flower benefits pollinators. If the temperature is above 4o degrees F when it is blooming, you will find honey bees visiting these delightful flowers.

Other spring flowering bulbs that benefit pollinators include Glory-of-the-Snow and Crocus. Consider planting these bulbs this fall in your pollinator habitat.

MJ Frogge

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Snowdrops blooming in February. Can you find the honeybee?

Tracks in the Snow

After a fresh snow fall, I like to visit the pollinator habitat to see who has been visiting. It is often obvious when you view the tracks from the night before. I found many bird tracks around the feeders. At least one rabbit had passed through. The deer tracks were interesting to look at.  I could see where it was entering and exiting the habitat. I also added my own tracks.

MJ Frogge

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.

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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

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