Pollination Information Dissemination

 In Pollinator Gardening

June is Pollinator Month!

The sweet smell of spring is in the air, and it is beckoning all the bustling pollinators out to play.  The hummingbirds have returned, the bees have come out of hibernation, and butterflies are fluttering about.  As I sit in the garden, I watch them flit about from the salvia to the flax to the larkspur to the sweet peas then back to the salvia again.  What charmed lives they lead, stopping to smell all the proverbial roses.  Not only is this one of our favorite times of the year, as the days grow longer, and our gardens grow stronger; it is also a whole month dedicated to celebrating pollinators! 

Meet the Flower Fly!

June National Pollinator Month and the week of June 17th-23rd is also observed as National Pollinator Week.  The Pollinator Partnership, which initiated Pollinator Week way back in the aughts, has chosen the Flower Fly as the Pollinator of the Year.  Flower Flies hail from the family Syrphidae, from the Greek súrphos, meaning gnat or winged ant.  These flower lovers often have traits that mimic bees and wasps, with one notable exception, they have a much less prickly demeanor.  That’s right, Flower Flies are stingless impersonators.  Though they may resemble bees in color and pattern, they do not sting, and unlike flies, they do not bite.  They are all buzz and no bluster. 

With over 6,000 different species around the world visiting over 70% of all cultivated crops and wildflowers, the Flower Flies are considered to be the second most important pollinator; the first of course being bees.   Furthermore, the larvae of some species are predators, helping to keep aphids, thrips, and other pests in check.  So how can you help to welcome these supportive syrphids to your garden?   Flower flies, having smaller mouth parts, prefer the easier access of open flowers, such as chamomile, strawberries, daisies, and echinacea.  They also tend to favor white and yellow flowers best of all.  Be sure to include a selection of their favorite flowers for each blooming season and your garden will be all the buzz!

Lesser-Known Butterfly Host Plants

We talk a lot about how important Milkweed is as a host plant for Monarch butterflies, but these plants are also host plants for various moths and butterflies.

Parsley, dill, and fennel host Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.

Wild Lupine, Lupinus perennis, an important component of our Butterfly Meadow wildflower mix, is the chosen host plant of the endangered Karner Blue butterfly. Additionally, Texas Bluebonnet Lupine is host to several butterflies, including the Grey Hairstreak and Elfin.

Blanket Flower Gaillardia is the host flower to the Gaillardia flower moth and the Painted schinia moth, whose colors and patterns mimic the flower’s bright appearance.

Echinacea, and other members of the family Asteraceae, including sunflowers, rudbeckia, and asters, are host to the Silvery checkerspot butterfly.

The Blazing Star flower, Liatris spp. is the host plant to two types of Schinia moths, that feed exclusively on this genus.

The Bee Balm, Monarda spp. is host to the orange mint and hermit sphinx moths.

You can find these flower seeds and more at in the Lake Valley Shop and in local nurseries and hardware stores across the United States.

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