What is Blooming in the Habitat-September

Asters are one of my favorite flowers. Smooth aster, Aster laevis, is blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. This native aster produces an abundance of lavender-blue flowers through late autumn.

smooth aster

Smooth Aster is upright with arching branches and reaches 3 feet tall. It easily grows in dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun.  Asters are a must for your perennial garden. All bees, bumble bees and butterflies flock to asters.  They are an excellent stopover plant for migrating Monarchs.

MJ

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What is Blooming in the Habitat-August

Bumble bee on Pitcher's sage.

Bumble bee on Pitcher’s sage.

Pitcher’s sage (Salvia azurea) has been blooming in the habitat for a few weeks.  It has an amazing blue color. This native perennial is in the mint family, but is not an aggressive spreader.  The stems are tall and erect, with the plant reaching a height of 2-5 feet. Plant it in full sun. Nearly every day this month, I see bumble bees on the flowers of this plant. They love it and so will you.

MJ

Pitcher's sage in the Cherry Creek Habitat.

Pitcher’s sage in the Cherry Creek Habitat.

Bees Need a Drink Too!

Its HOT!  Bees and other pollinators need fresh water to drink too.  Add a bee water station in your yard for bees and other animals to get a drink.  Bird baths work fine too.  Place a rock in the water station for the insects to land on when they visit.

MJ

Bee water station in Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

Bee water station in Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

Honey bee visiting a birdbath.

Honey bee visiting a birdbath.

What is Blooming in the Habitat

Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta) is one of my favorite native wildflowers.

Hoary vervain, a native wildflower.

Hoary vervain, a native wildflower.

It is blooming in the habitat now.  The plant has beautiful purple-blue flowers and blooms for at least 6 weeks.  It gets 2 feet tall and prefers drier soil conditions.  I always see bumblebees visiting the flowers, as well as butterflies and solitary bees.

MJ

Monarch Caterpillars

In the pollinator habitat today I notice a Monarch caterpillar feeding on a swamp milkweed flower. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs only on milkweed plants.  Swamp milkweed is blooming now and the pink flowers are very attractive. We also have butterfly, common and whorled milkweeds growing in the habitat. Consider adding milkweeds to your perennial flower beds.

Monarch caterpillar on swamp milkweed.

Monarch caterpillar on swamp milkweed.

The federal government in February, pledged $3.2 million to help save the monarch butterfly.  In recent years, the species has experienced a 90 percent decline in population, with the lowest recorded population occurring in 2013-2014.

About $2 million will restore more than 200,000 acres of habitat from California to the mid-west, including approximately 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens. The rest will be used to start a conservation fund, the first dedicated solely to monarchs, that will provide grants to farmers and other landowners to conserve habitat.

This is exciting news. These gardens will benefit all pollinators and help raise awareness of habitat protection.

MJ

4-H Youth and Habitat Discovery

This morning Soni and I taught 4-H youth about pollinators in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. All week our office is hosting Clover College. For our Habitat Discovery session, youth did nature journaling, planted native plants in the habitat, planted sunflower seeds, installed a bee water source and made bee nesting tubes bundles for the bee nest box structure and insect hotel. At the end of the session the youth made nature journals and took home their own bee nest box to put in their landscape. Spending time educating youth about pollinators was a great way to finish Pollinator Week!

MJ

Youth journaling in habitat.

Youth journaling in habitat.

Boys on new bench in habitat.

Boys on new bench in habitat.

Nature journaling in habitat.

Nature journaling in habitat.

Youth with their new bee houses to take home.

Youth with their new bee houses to take home.

Check Out Photos from the Live Camera

One of the regulars in the Cherry Creek Habitat: a skunk

About this photo: One of the skunks we see regularly in habitat photos captured with the live cam.
This photo was taken March 28, 2015 at 1 a.m. CT

Last fall, a Web camera was mounted so everyone could watch a live stream view of the Cherry Creek Habitat 24/7. In addition to the change in seasons, viewers have also enjoyed wildlife using this educational area.

A couple weeks ago, I went through the camera still shots and pulled together some of the highlights from January-April 2015. Vicki in our office posted the photos to Flickr. The list of wildlife includes: two different skunks, two raccoons, two cats, a small herd of deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds and a wild turkey. There is a description with the date/time of day each still photo was taken.

Cherry Creek Habitat Web Cam Still Photos 2015 – more photos will be added each month. Enjoy!

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

What is blooming in the habitat

Prairie ragwort is a native plant that blooms May through June. This wildflower is a biennial or short-lived perennial that is approximately one foot tall.  It attracts many pollinators like bees, flies, moths and butterflies.

MJ

Prairie ragwort blooming now in the Cherry Creek Habitat.

Prairie ragwort blooming now in the Cherry Creek Habitat.

Happy Earth Day!

Ten Ways to Celebrate Earth Day
1. Learn about pollinators.
2. Make a bird or bee house.
3. Plant native plants.
4. Recycle.
5. Fix leaky faucets.
6. Pick up trash.
7. Carpool, ride a bike or walk to your destination.
8. Give up bottled water.
9. Start buying local.
10. Go paperless.

MJ

Solitary bee house.

Solitary bee house.

Smooth aster.

Smooth aster.

Teaching Youth about Pollinators

Yesterday Soni and I were presenters at the Outdoor Discovery Program held at Platte River State Park.  The weather was perfect, sunny, with a slight breeze. We taught 4th graders about pollinators and what they need for a habitat. We discussed one out of every three bites of food we eat is there because of pollinators. We asked the youth if they could make a list of pollinators and they easily mentioned bees, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds. The kids were surprised to learn that flies and beetles could be pollinators too. We talked about native solitary bees and showed them bee houses.The youth were able to view pollinators in action since it was a beautiful spring day and there were blooming wild plums near our site.  The kids were provided journals so they could record their observations. Thank you Nebraska Game and Parks for providing youth this wonderful educational opportunity.

M J

Waiting for kids to arrive.

Waiting for kids to arrive.