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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Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Last week I planted spring flowering bulbs in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. I planted crocus, glory-of-the-snow and grape hyacinth. These spring bulbs are beneficial to early pollinators like honey bees and some native bees. Many of these pollinators are out early in the spring and need these early blooming plants. Spring bulbs are an easy addition to your habitat and you can still plant them, but do it soon!  Other bulbs include snowdrops (my favorite), winter aconite, daffodil, fritillaria and Siberian squill.

MJ Frogge

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Praying Mantid Egg Case

Yesterday was a great fall day to be in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Jody and I were weeding and doing a little bit of clean up. While we were doing this, we found a few Chinese praying mantids egg cases. They are roundish and look like foam. The Carolina mantid egg case is flat, rectangular shaped and smaller. Both mantids are found in Nebraska.

If you find praying mantid egg cases on your plants or in the landscape, you should leave them alone. Each egg case contain up to two hundred eggs. In the spring the nymphs will emerge and they look like tiny versions of adult mantids. These insects are beneficial because they eat insect pests. But they can also eat other beneficial insects as well.

MJ Frogge

Spring Bulbs for Pollinators

Fall is the time to plant spring flowering bulbs. These plants are the first bloomers in the spring. They are important for pollinators that are out early looking for flowers. Plant bulbs in groups so you will have a mass of flowers come springtime.

Snow drops are the first bulbs to bloom in the spring. In February and March, if the temperature is over 40 degrees F, you will find honeybees out on snow drop flowers.

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Bees also can be found on crocus.

Glory-of-the-snow is a beautiful little bulb that comes in blue, pink and white.

Grape hyacinth is bulb that will spread and multiple over the years.

Hope you will consider adding spring bulbs to your pollinator habitat. They will be a wonderful addition to your garden and beneficial to the early spring pollinators.

MJ Frogge