Butterflies!

We are finding many butterflies and skippers in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Swallowtails and monarch butterflies numbers have increased this month. It is important to have a variety of annuals, perennials and native flowers blooming now through our first frost for our pollinators. Late summer and fall blooming plants include sunflowers, tall thistle, swamp milkweed, goldenrod and asters.

MJ Frogge

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Monarchs!

Monarch butterflies and caterpillars have been spotted in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Our habitat has over 300 stems of common, butterfly, swamp and whorled milkweed for monarchs and other beneficial insects. Please consider planting more milkweed and other native plants in your landscape to benefit pollinators.

MJ Frogge

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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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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

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Monarch butterfly egg on common milkweed, May 5!

Milkweed and Monarchs

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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/

Perennial Plant of the Year-It’s a Native!

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Butterfly milkweed

Every year the Perennial Plant Association designates a “Perennial Plant of the Year.” This announcement is well know among gardeners and horticulturists like me.  I usually have it as a featured article in the Horticulture section of our county newsletter the Nebline. The 2017’s selection made me jump with joy! It is an important native pollinator plant, butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa).  This plant will be recognized and promoted extensively this year.  I am hopeful many gardeners will plant it and continue to add native plants to their landscape. It is beneficial to Monarchs and other native pollinators.

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