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

What is Blooming in April?

What is blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat in April? Today I found pasque flower, wild plum, redbud and dandelions. Yes, we have dandelions in the pollinator habitat.  They are a great early blooming plant for pollinators.  I found tiny native bees visiting the plants.  Let a few plants remain and bloom in your habitat.  Remove the dead flowers before they go to seed.

MJ Frogge

Nebraskans Care About Pollinators

Nearly 70 people attended the Pollinator Class and Open House last night at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat located at the Lancaster County Extension Office. Those attending included Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification members, Master Gardeners and citizens from several southeastern Nebraska communities who wanted to know more about pollinators and the Habitat Certification program.  After a habitat tour, delicious food and a power point program on the benefits of pollinators, the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Team held a Q&A session. Great discussion and concern expressed on how to help pollinators and increase habitat. A perfect evening!

MJ Frogge

Pollinator Class & Open House

On April 6 the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat is the venue for a Pollinator Class and Open House.  The Nebraska Pollinator Certification Team is hosting this event to recognize the 30 Certified Habitats and invite the public to learn more about the program and pollinators. Pre-registration is required by April 3.

For Registration: http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/PollinatorClass17.pdf

MJ Frogge

habitataster15

Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat Summer 2015

Pollinator Class and Open House
Thursday, April 6, 6–8 p.m.
Lancaster Extension Education Center
444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln NE
Pre-registration is required by April 3.
Hors d’oeuvre will be served from 6–7 p.m., followed by pollinator presentation.
Cost is $5 per person

Tracks in the Snow

After a fresh snow fall, I like to visit the pollinator habitat to see who has been visiting. It is often obvious when you view the tracks from the night before. I found many bird tracks around the feeders. At least one rabbit had passed through. The deer tracks were interesting to look at.  I could see where it was entering and exiting the habitat. I also added my own tracks.

MJ Frogge

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from all of us here at Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County!

Today, we recycled the fall decorations from our office by placing them into the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. It will be fun to watch the wildlife on the live camera as they check out the pumpkins, squash and cornstalks. You can watch at http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/bees.shtml

While working around the insect hotel, I noticed an opossum has been raiding the black oil sunflower seeds, chewing the seeds up and then regurgitating almond-sized pellets or “nuggets”. People sometimes notice these same pellets around bird feeders and aren’t sure what they are! Now, you know!

To learn how to create your own pollinator-friendly habitat, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/bees.shtml.

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

“For the golden corn
and the apples on the tree,
For the golden butter
and honey for our tea;
For fruits and nuts and
berries, that grow
beside the way
For birds and bees and
flowers, we give thanks
every day”
–author unknown

It is Official! Certified Habitat

This week we received our Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification for the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.  Our habitat earned a certificate and we also have an attractive sign to proudly display.

habitatsign

Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification sign for the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

So what does this mean to have a Habitat Certification?

We have made the commitment to protect pollinators by:

Providing a diversity of plant material essential to providing both nectar and pollen to support a healthy ecosystem. We use plants that provide pollen and nectar sources from early spring to late fall, provide a diversity of plants, flower shapes and flower sizes, choose older cultivars and  heirloom varieties of annuals and limit newer introductions, incorporate pollinator friendly native plants into the garden and place plants in masses (three or more) to attract pollinators.

Provide water, shelter and nesting areas for pollinators.

Practice conservation practices to protect and support pollinators by reducing lawn areas, maintain a layer of organic mulch over tree roots, shrubs and plant beds, plant groundcovers or use mulch on thinly vegetated areas to decrease erosion, avoid chemical pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides where possible, use a rain barrel or other means of capturing/utilizing rainwater to irrigate plants and water plants only when necessary.

If you are interested in certifying your garden or want to learn the requirements, please visit the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification site to see the application.

http://go.unl.edu/pollinatorhabitat

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.

monarchzinnia92216

Monarch on zinnia in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat in September.

monarchs92216

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

STEM’ing in the Habitat

STEM is an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. We took time out yesterday to integrate more STEM opportunities into the Cherry Creek Habitat. Urban entomologist, Jody Green and myself set out traps to monitor for Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and the Aedes mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus.

The trap for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug was placed 3 feet above plants so we attached it to the pole in the middle of the habitat. On the livestream view of the habitat – you can just see the green trap on the blue pole under the bee nesting tubes. The Stink Bug trap will be checked every Monday and results documented. Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are an invasive species and are a pest of plants including fruit trees, ornamentals and some crops. (more from USDA).

The mosquito trap was anchored behind the bee nesting structure. This trap has to be checked every five days. We placed a wooden tongue depressor in a cup with two inches of water. Since Aedes mosquitoes lay their single eggs on a dry surface, we’ll remove the stick after 5 days and send to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to have it checked for eggs. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are more likely to spread viruses like Zika, dengue, chikungunya and other viruses. Aedes aegypti has not been found in Nebraska yet, but it is very close (range map – Center for Disease Control & Prevention).

In addition to helping get our traps set, Jody enjoyed taking some photos and a little video of the action in the habitat.

For more information on topics mentioned in this post:

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