New pollinators in the trial garden this morning!

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How many monarchs?

I hope everyone is seeing monarch butterflies this year. I have only seen 2 so far…today is Aug 13 and I am hoping I have just been inside too much !!

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Diverse pollinators

My past two observations have introduced me to a variety of pollinators and a few predators. It’s fun to get beyond the many tiny (albeit important) syrphid flies and see diversity in pollinators. It made sitting in compost worth it!

At a glance, the Salvia – especially ‘White swan’ and ‘Coral nymph’ – are pretty popular. However, sunflowers ‘Lemon Queen’ and ‘Ring of fire’, while late bloomers, are attractive to the larger pollinators like bumblebees and honey bees during peak bloom time. As their flowers degrade, they are not as attractive it seems. Our single Rudbeckia, ‘Orange fudge’ is coming into its own with more flowers and really attracting the sweat bees and solider beetles.

Butterflies and moths are somewhat scarce with some fiery skipper activity and now dun skippers (two) today. Cabbage white moths were mating today on the zinnia – not sure how good that is, but a good picture:

Probably most impressive was the obvious queen bumble that did all she could to pose for me while dining on the Salvia ‘Coral Nymph’. She had to be the size of a half dollar!20160812_103327

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Bumble bee and honey bee in the trial garden this morning!

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July in the Garden

A real winning day yesterday in the St. Paul site! Bumble bees, syrphid flies, blow flies, wasps, JB (dead now), and best of all a fiery skipper (!) all visited the blooming annual flowers. The four Zinnia varieties, Salvia and snaps are in bloom with the Sunflowers on the horizon. I agree with Douglas County Master Gardener, Diane Henry, that we will need a step stool to observe the very tall sunflowers!

Some tips:

Remember to record # of plants, not number of blooms. If a variety (like Salvia) is a big mass, record 6 plants as that was the goal.

Sometimes I observe more than one variety at a time just because stuff is happening quickly. I just keep track of what I see for each variety and then record the correct #s.

I found I have to sit still for a couple minutes before the insects come back and get active again. (This is the hard part!)
Hope you are all enjoying the quiet time watching these amazing insects!

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St. Paul site planted!

The former biochar demonstration garden is the new location for the 2016 Flowers for Pollinators trial on the U of M campus. It was planted May 25th by MGs Claire Kari and Joan Onffroy, and EE Julie Weisenhorn – 3/5 of the campus team which also includes Lynn


Cauliflower ‘Sno Crown’ seedlings

Meyer and Anita Hoaglund. Gopher Adventurers (ages 9-12) will also be trying their hand at identifying  / counting pollinators during their horticulture sessions under the supervision of MGs Betsy Massie, Sue Wieczorek and Kathie Doerr. The FfP site also has a plot of various vegetables including the “rainbow of colors” from the state seed trial committee, and other vegetables team members are interested in trying to grow / taste. The produce will be shared with area food shelves.

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Webinar #1 recording now available


Soldier beetles on dill flowers

Thanks to everyone who attended our webinar on the Flowers for Pollinator trial!  The recording is now available: Flowers for Pollinators webinar #1

A big THANKS to Andrea Rice for her help in setting up and hosting the webinar!

Please watch the webinar if you were not able to attend (or would like to review), and please stop in at our in-person presentation during the Friday 6/24 lunch hour at the MG State Conference. It will be great to see you and talk flowers for pollinators!


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