Teaching Youth about Pollinators

Last Thursday Soni and I spent the day teaching 4th and 5th graders about pollinators at the Outdoor Discovery Program held every year at Platte River State Park hosted by Nebraska Game and Parks. The day started out chilly, but by afternoon we were able to see many pollinators and the kids were able to stretch out in the grassy area and work in their field journals. We found out the attending youth knew what pollination means, what pollinators are and how they are important.  What we were able to add to their knowledge was very interesting to them.  We discussed native pollinators and showed them nesting bee blocks with the leaf cutter bees still in them ready to emerge. The importance of early blooming plants, like dandelions, which they considered weeds, was a surprise to them. The discussion turned to what food crops needed pollinators to produce, like tomatoes, apples and almonds. By the end of each session, the kids had a better understanding of our native pollinators and how their habitat is important to protect.  It was a very fun day for all of us and it is great to partner with Nebraska Game and Parks in youth outdoor education.

MJ Frogge

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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

Feeding Birds

The Cherry Creek Habitat hosts many American Goldfinch. I placed three sock feeders for them in our mature trees that border the habitat. I also hung the sunflower seed bird feeder for our seed eating birds. We often see Dark-eyed Junco and Northern Cardinals in or near the habitat.

M J Frogge

Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification

I am so excited to make this announcement and proud to be part of this Pollinator Habitat Certification team. Here at our office, we plan to certify the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat and I want to also certify my home pollinator garden.

MJ

Do you love gardening and want to help pollinators?  Consider developing your landscape into a pollinator habitat. This month, a team of Nebraska Extension horticulture professionals, led by Extension Educator Natalia Bjorklund, launched a new program called Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification.  This program gives Nebraskans an opportunity to certify their garden and promote pollinators in their community.

To certify their habitat, gardeners need to provide spring, summer and fall blooming plants that support pollinator needs, a water source, shelter, nesting sites and restrict pesticide use. Gardeners will be asked to make a commitment to protect pollinators and provide a diverse plant community that will result in a pollinator habitat.

This program is open to Nebraska  homeowners, schools, businesses, parks,  homeowner associations, farmers, acreage owners and community gardens.

Please visit the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification website to view the certification application. http://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification

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Monarch caterpillar on swamp milkweed.

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Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat Summer 2015

Happy Pollinator Week!

Pollinator Week is June 15-21, 2015.  There are many ways to celebrate pollinator week and we hope you will participate by helping pollinators in your landscape.

Purple poppy mallow in habitat.

Purple poppy mallow in habitat.

New bench added to Cherry Creek habitat.

New bench added to Cherry Creek habitat.

1. Plant Native Plants. Native flora provides native pollinators with food in the form of pollen and nectar. Select plants that have a long bloom time. Also grow a wide selection of plants so you have plants blooming April through October.
2. Let your yard get a little messy. Leave unhazardous snags for nesting places and stack down tree limbs to create a brush pile, which is a great source of cover for pollinators.
3. Create or protect water sources. Bees need water to drink. Create a water feature with rocks for insects to land. Be sure to keep birdbaths clean and change the water three times per week when mosquitoes are breeding.
4. Limit or eliminate pesticide use. By using fewer or no chemicals in the landscape you will help keep pollinator populations healthy.
5. Identify non-native invasive plants. Work to remove them from your yard. Do not bring any new invasive plants into your habitat. Invasive plants do not provide as much quality food or habitat as native plants do and can threaten healthy ecosystems.

Learn more about Pollinator Week in Nebraska:

http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/2015-nebraska-pollinator-week-bee-blitz

MJ

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.

Butterfly Byway in Nebraska!

Butterfly Byway poster by Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition.

Butterfly Byway poster by Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition.

I received an early Christmas present from my husband.  I framed this fabulous poster and hung it in my office.  I love that our state is promoting the great assets we have here in Nebraska. Assets that have always been here and will continue to be here if we are good stewards. There are 12 posters in the collection.  Go to Visit The Prairie at http://visittheprairie.com/ to see the collection and order a poster or postcards.  My husband picked up my poster at Hardin Hall here in Lincoln (33rd & Holdrege). The Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition is committed to promoting environmental conservation and building thriving communities through nature-based tourism in the Great Plains. The Coalition includes both non-profit and for-profit members and is coordinated by staff at the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

MJ

‘Lone Wolf’ Sawtooth

Sawtooth sunflower in the Cherry Creek Habitat

At 9 feet, this perennial sawtooth sunflower is standing tall in the Cherry Creek Habitat

My, my, my… how one of our perennial sunflowers has grown!

We have a sawtooth sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus) in the Cherry Creek Habitat. When grown in tight colonies the sunflowers reach 3-5 feet tall. However, when you plant one by itself (described as a ‘lone wolf’) it can reach up to 12 ft tall. This afternoon, we went out and measured the sawtooth sunflower in the Cherry Creek habitat and it is 9 ft tall. It is glorious! Unfortunately, it is too tall for the space (and could be aggressive),  so we’ll have to move it later. There are plenty of pollinators on the sunflower now and it certainly is a standout in the habitat.

Other habitat news:

  • Excited! Jim in our office is busy adding a camera out back so we can view the habitat on the web and share video. We should even have “night vision”.
  • We’ve also been doing some nitty gritty work with weeding and adding more rock to keep working on the erosion issues with the space.
  • The activity at the bee nesting structure has really slowed down, although I did see one leaf cutter bee busy at work. Bumble bees have certainly not slowed down their activity – they are still as busy as “bees”.
  • Today, we saw a lot of monarchs moving south on their migration while working in the habitat.
  • As we move into fall, it will be time to harvest seed and plant more plants.
  • Speaking of sunflowers, the Lemon Queen sunflowers may not look as pretty now that the flowers are gone, but they are providing food for birds. This afternoon, a female cardinal and three of her young were busy feeding on the seeds.

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I “See” You!

We rarely go out into the Cherry Creek Habitat without a camera of some sort. You never know what you might see. When I’m strolling around, I try to have at least my cell phone with me! Today was one of those days when I could’ve missed documenting something special – – –

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

Common Yarrow in the Habitat

The yarrow has been a great addition to the Cherry Creek Habitat. It also makes a super hiding place. Do you see it?

Baby bullsnake in the yarrow

If you look close at the first photo, here’s the baby bullsnake who found a great hiding place right in the center of the yarrow. Very cool

 

Can Wasp Be Pollinators?

Can wasp be pollinators? Yes they can, but some are better than others. Wasp with hairs on their bodies are better at being pollinators than those with few hairs. Pollen sticks easily to hairy bodies making it easy to be passed around from flower to flower as insects move through the garden. Many wasp are beneficial because they are also predators. Not only do they help pollinate, but they also keep pest insects in check.

Wasp feeding on nectar - Cherry Creek Habitat

Wasp feeding on nectar – Cherry Creek Habitat

If you’ve planted a pollinator-friendly garden, you’ll find many wasp species visiting your plants. Take a moment to pause and enjoy these amazing insects. Even social wasp like yellow jackets and paper wasp are quite docile while feeding because they aren’t trying to defend a nest. Solitary wasp like mud daubers, cicada killers, spider wasp and more make great subjects for those who enjoy photography.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu