Year 1 results here.
I performed multiple counts over the two days in my own garden. While I missed counting with and helping other people, my Friday count included a special helper: my two-year old grandson. I’ve been pointing out flowers and bugs to him all during the spring and summer so the concept of being interested in bugs on flowers wasn’t new to him. He’s also been working on his counting so he was able to tell me that there were TWO bugs on the plant and he was also able to say that they were BEES. Alas, he could not yet identify that they were carpenter bees so that will be a goal for next year.
The flowers blooming this year were similar to last year with a few changes. Cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) was just as popular this year as last, proving that it is a great late-summer perennial to have in the native garden. Bumble bees were number one on this plant with a smattering of other bug categories. I was especially pleased to see (on both days) an elephant mosquito which I also saw—on this same plant—last year during the count.
|Elephant mosquito on Rudbeckia|
|Bumble bee packing on Rudbeckia|
My Joe pye weed (Eutrochium fistulosum) was in peak form this year while it was almost done last year. Bumble bees were again the major pollinator on this plant with showy tiger swallowtails visiting as well. Another difference this year was a blooming pink milkweed (Asclepias incarnata var. pulchra) that I didn’t have last year. Primary visitors to this included carpenter bees and a few tiger swallowtails. I also counted on anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) both of which supported bumble bees. I never saw any honey bees during the count but clearly my yard is a tasty wonderland for bumble bees.
|Tiger swallowtails on Joe pye weed|
|Bumble bee on Agastache|
Another difference this year was the ability to count a late-blooming devil's walking stick (Aralia spinosa). This plant bloomed earlier but had one late inflorescence just starting to open. The dozens and dozens of tiny flowers on it brought a surprise visitor: a red-spotted purple butterfly joined in with some tiger swallowtails. Normally I don't see this butterfly species visit many flowers. Counting the Aralia needed special equipment - I had to use binoculars from my deck to get a good look at the insects.
|Aralia spinosa with two tigers and a red-spotted purple butterfly|
As before, this activity is a great way for folks to realize that:
- Certain plants support certain insects so a diversity of plants is important.
- Certain plants bloom at different times so having a succession of blooming plants is key to support pollinators throughout the year.
- Some plants don’t have many pollinator visitors at all so knowing what works well in your area would allow you to support the best number possible, especially in a more limited space.
- Being outside and looking more closely at what is using our plants can give us a better appreciation for the local ecosystem and what we do in our gardens.
|I wasn't counting on this Verbesina but I noticed this butterfly laying eggs|
Official count sticker design by Daniel Ballard and courtesy of GGaPC.org.