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.
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.
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.
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.
The Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat received snow this week. I enjoy looking for animal tracks after it snows. Even though it is cold, there is lots of activity in the habitat. Birds, a squirrel, rabbits and deer visit the Cherry Creek 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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted in bees, butterfly, Habitat, Monarch, Native, perennials, Plants, Pollinators, solitary bees, Uncategorized, wildflower
- Tagged habitat, native plants, pollinators
This is the 5th summer for the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat! It is amazing to see how much we have accomplished in 5 years. We started with a neglected lawn area behind our office and turned it into a thriving habitat for pollinators and wildlife. The habitat is a great place to teach youth, adults, Master Gardeners and even our own staff about the importance of pollinators. Every time I visit the habitat I see or learn something new. It has been a rewarding experience and I hope it has been an inspiration for you as well.
Two educational signs
One solitary bee house
One insect hotel
Three water stations
Live habitat web cam
Picnic table and bench
Bird feeding stations
Over 40 native plants with name labels
Over 190 stems of common milkweed for monarchs and other beneficial insects
Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program site
Hours of educational outreach for youth and adults
The Buzz at Cherry Creek blog