Yesterday was probably our last summer day. It was 93 degrees, hot and windy. Butterflies and bees were taking advantage of the nice weather in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. The smooth aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) was loaded with monarchs, red admirals, bordered patch butterflies and bees. Cool weather and rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week.
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.
During the month of September we have enjoyed the migration of painted lady butterflies. Entomologists suggest the high population is because of a great summer season of breeding that boosted the population. Omaha, Lincoln and the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat have experienced large populations this month. Neighboring states, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas have seen increased populations as well. Enjoy them while they are here.
Red Admiral and Monarch butterflies have been spotted in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. They were both seen on common milkweed which is blooming now. Plant milkweed for National Pollinator Week.
We have garden thyme blooming in Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Soon I will be planting basil, dill, borage and parsley. Herbs are important plants to have in a pollinator habitat. The flowers are visited by bees and butterflies. Many butterfly caterpillars feed on the leaves of dill, borage, parsley and other herbs. If you plant several plants, you may get a few herbs for yourself!
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.
Monarch on zinnia in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat in September.
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!
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
Monarch butterfly on swamp milkweed.
We received good news today. Monarch butterfly numbers are up in their wintering grounds in Mexico. But there is much we need to do to keep them off the endangered species list. We need to increase habitat for them in their summer breeding areas. Nebraska is right in the middle of this important location in North America.
This week I was invited to a Monarch Summit. The Monarch Planning Team held a two day summit for discussion to begin on a Nebraska Monarch & Pollinator Conservation Plan. Invited speaker, Dr. Chip Taylor, Director of Monarch Watch gave us Monarch statistics and shared helpful guidance to get us underway forming a plan for Nebraska.
There is plenty we can do now. This spring, plant milkweed and native plants. Reduce the use of pesticides. Create a pollinator habitat in your landscape. Learn more about the Monarch Waystation Program at MonarchWatch.org
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 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.
Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta) is one of my favorite native wildflowers.
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.