Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Native Plants For Bees.

The many gardens across the land together form a grid of corridor's linking all the open green spaces.
Birds, insects and small mammals travel these corridors the way we use the highway system.
If conditions are right many will take up residence for a time.

For me this is what our gardening efforts hope to maximize. While I love the shade of big trees and the bloom of flower, they comprise only a part of the living world outside our doors. I garden to include those other life forms.

Urban living need not be devoid of such life. We as gardeners may build a habitat and encourage those passing through to tary awhile, have a meal,bath,maybe even start another generation.
It just takes a slight adjustment of our preconceived ideas of a garden...

Insects are rarely bad for the garden.
Weed status changes dramatically.
Being in the garden is interesting and fun.
Pretty is nice but not what ultimately defines a garden.

What to grow in a wildlife garden?
Good question. Many plants have been bred to enhance color,bloom time, and ease of cultivation. Much that is beneficial to wildlife has been lost in the process. So often the best plants to use are species native to the surrounding eco-system.
Is it sunny, dry, shady, often wet? Is your soil sandy or dense? Soil compacted or often sprayed with winter salts?
If you are a beginning gardener this may seem daunting, but there are many places to look for suggestions of what will work in your area.

Here are a few links that may be helpful. These particular links are pollinator mindful but work for many insects which in turn will attract many other animals up the food chain. If you seek a specific wildlife habitat there is much information available on the web and at your local library. Librarians have been very helpful in locating books and other resources.

xerces.org pollinators of the great lakes region

native plants at msu.edu (pdf)

native plants at msu.edu

usda.gov/WI -technotes - biology (pdf)

nrcs.usda.gov/references/public/IL/BTechNote23. (pdf)

A map to find links relevant to your area.

xerces.org pollinator-resource-center

The pdf files have lists of trees and shrubs as well as perennials with bloom times included so that you include multi-season forage.

I found helpful the advice to include at least three blooming plant species for each season.
Wild strawberry,Zizea (Golden Alexander), and Canada anemone for spring.
Blazing star, veronicastrum and monarda for mid summer.
Asters,ironweed and Tall sunflower for late season bloom.

Lists taking soil moisture levels into consideration as well as season.
Dry mesic in Spring... Cream Wild Indigo, smooth penstemon and common spiderwort.
Wet mesic late season...Smooth blue aster, Stiff Goldenrod, Showy sunflower.

Also suggested is the use of at least five grass or sedge species. Remember these suggestions are for the great lakes area and are just examples. Check for your area for more relevant information.

Dry...Big Bluestem, side oats gamma, Little Bluestem, Indian grass and Prairie dropseed.

Wet... Big Bluestem, Eastern gamma grass, Fox sedge,Fringed sedge and Switchgrass(panicum virgatum)

Bumble bee queens will often show up very early during warm spells. Few flowers are blooming but several trees and shrubs flower early, some producing nectar as well as pollen.

Very Early...
Illinois Wildflowers Prairie Willow


Faunal Associations: Primarily short-tongued bees and various flies visit the flowers for nectar. Some of these insects collect or feed on the pollen of the staminate flowers. Among the bee visitors of the flowers are honeybees, Nomadine Cuckoo bees, Halictid bees, and Andrenid bees. Among the fly visitors of the flowers are flower flies (Syrphids), Flesh flies, Bottleflies, Muscid flies, Sawflies, and others. The foliage of willows is eaten by a great number of insect species; only a few species will be described here. The caterpillars of the following butterflies feed on the foliage of willows: Satyrium liparops strigosum (Striped Hairstreak), Satyrium acadicum (Acadian Hairstreak), Limenitis arthemis astyanax (Red-Spotted Purple), and Limenitis archippus (Viceroy). Other insects feeding on willow foliage include the caterpillars of the skipper Erynnis icelus (Dreamy Duskywing), as well as the caterpillars of the moths Sphinx luscitiosa (Clemen's Sphinx) and Melipotis jucunda (Noctuid Moth sp.). The stems of willows are eaten by deer, elk, livestock, and beavers. Beavers use the stems in the construction of their lodges .

Early to mid...
Illinois Wildflowers Amorpha fruitcosa/False indigobush

Illinois Wildflowers Crataegus spp
Faunal Associations: The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract primarily bees and flies; to a lesser extent, wasps, beetles, and butterflies also visit the flowers. Bee floral visitors include honeybees, bumblebees, little carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.), Halictid bees, and Andrenid bees, while fly floral visitors include Syrphid flies, dance flies (Empis spp., Rhamphomyia spp.), blow flies (Calliphora spp., Lucilia spp., Phormia spp.), and Muscid flies. Other insects feed on the leaves, fruit, wood, or other parts of hawthorns (Crataegus spp.). The caterpillars of the butterfly Satyrium liparops strigosum (Striped Hairstreak) occasionally feeds on these shrubs, as do the caterpillars of many moth species (see Moth Table). Other insect feeders include leafhoppers (see Leafhopper Table), the Quince Treehopper (Glossonotus crataegi), aphids, plant bugs, the Hawthorn Lace Bug (Corythucha cydoniae), larvae of long-horned beetles, the flea beetle Crepidodera violacea, weevils, and larvae of gall flies (see Insect Table for a listing of these various species). While it is not a preferred source of food, several species of upland gamebirds and songbirds eat the fruit (see Bird Table), as do the Black Bear, Coyote, Gray Fox, Raccoon, Striped Skunk, Fox Squirrel, and Gray Squirrel. Cottontail Rabbits and White-Tailed Deer also browse on the leaves and twigs. Because of their dense branching patterns and thorns, hawthorns provide good nesting habitat for the Yellow-Breasted Chat, Brown Thrasher, Loggerhead Shrike, and other birds that like to construct nests in shrubs. The Loggerhead Shrike also uses the thorns to impale its prey. These shrubby trees also provide good protective cover for roosting birds and secretive mammals, particularly when they form colonies. Overall, the ecological value of hawthorns to wildlife is high.

Illinois Wildflowers New Jersey Tea

There is a new Wildlife/Garden blog posting reliable information that says it all so well. Check it out.

Why we should garden with biodiversity Ecological Gardening

Ecological gardening