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12 Days of Pollinators!

December 2022

May your holiday bee more wonderful with this series by Ethan Robison, Pollinator Educator and Outreach Specialist!

If you'd like to put out a feeder for hummingbirds this winter, try adding a bit more sugar to your syrup mixture. This will LOWER the freezing point of the syrup, so it will stay liquid at colder temperatures! But once summer comes around, be sure to return to your normal ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.

You may not even see these ground nesting bees! Seventy percent of bees nest in the ground, so those little holes in your backyard just might be home to several baby bees! Avoiding pesticide use and not laying down thick layers of woody mulch is really important to avoid hurting them. We agree with the The Xerces Society : “When it comes to ground nesting bees, access to bare ground is essential, and even a 1-inch layer of mulch can be as impenetrable as pavement to these small bees.”

Want to support native migratory butterflies like the Monarch and many others? Well we recommend planting a diverse array of native plants, from trees to shrubs to flowering plants. Many plants serve as hosts to butterfly larvae (aka caterpillars), like the pearly everlasting we grew in our propagation nursery. Those little shrubs turned out to be one of the few plants that the American Lady cater-pillar can eat! It is also critical to have flowers blooming throughout the year, to provide plenty of nectar for the adult butterflies. If there are specific butterflies you might want to see in your yard, research their host plants and favored nectar flowers to add to your yard. Photo by Kathy Riley

Learn more about growing a butterfly garden in this resource from OSU Extension.

Yes, it's true - more caterpillars means more birds in the landscape! To help the birds (and the butterflies and moths!), please consider planting native trees and shrubs as well as flowering garden plants in your yard. "Committing to native plants will not only play host to caterpillars and birds, but also support bees and other wildlife. They will absorb and filter rainwater, improve air quality, and make a beautiful addition to your landscape. When tree shopping, be sure to purchase a native species rather than an exotic. A native variety can support 35 times more caterpillars than a non-native variety of the same species!" For the Birds: The Importance of Caterpillars

At this point in winter, Mason Bees are hidden away in their nests, waiting until spring to emerge. Many people put up mason bee houses to invite these great pollinators of spring flowering plants into their yard. But beware the cute little ‘short house’, which are too often found in stores. Because if the nesting tunnels are less than 6” deep, the mama bee will lay only male eggs - which could be a problem for the next generation!

But keep in mind that a mason bee “house” is not required for you to see these crevice nesters next spring. Consider how many holes in trees or old wood or openings in rock walls there might be in your yard. And winter is a great time to plant spring-flowering trees and shrubs like maples, cane fruit, redbuds, currants, apples, and more, to feed those fast-moving mason bees next year! Photo by M.J Raupp

The Owlet moth is one of the 11,000 species of moths in the US. Compare that number to the only 750 species of butterflies! Yup, those numbers are correct! Wondering about the difference between moths and butterflies? There are a number of ways you can tell which is which, as outlined in this article from the Deschutes Land Trust.

When most people think of pollinators, honey bees are the first thing that come to mind. That’s understandable, since we see these everywhere, but did you know that the European honey bee is not actually native to the Americas? There are about 4,000 species of NATIVE bees in the US alone, and at least 700 species are found in Oregon. Honey bees contribute so much to human agri-culture, but native bees are the most important pollinators for our native ecosystems. Photo by Tanner Smida

Carpenter bees usually will not tunnel into painted wood. Therefore, a more permanent solution is to paint unfinished wood surfaces, especially those with a history of infestation.

Beetles were some of the first insects to pollinate flowers, and remain one of the most important and diverse group of pollinators around today. "There are 380,000 named living species of beetles, constituting nearly one-fourth of all known animal species on our planet. "-Cerruti R Hooks and Anahí Espíndola. Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Lots of flies are pollinators! Check out this informative - and icky! - article about how some scientists are trying to learn how to attract more flies to farms! Photo by Barbara Cooper

Are you ready for the scoop on poop? Here's a quote from an informative article by Dave Foley at WildLifeOn: "Different butterfly species consume the excrement of other animals as a way to obtain essential minerals and nutrients. This behavior, known as coprophagy, is observed in a wide range of butterflies. It helps them to supplement their diets with necessary minerals that are not available in their natural environments."

Bumblebees have a fascinating life cycle. To help make sure there is enough habitat for these pollinators, try leaving large sections of untilled and undisturbed ground. This can help you avoid bugging the overwintering queens. Photo by Nancy Partlow and Glen Buschmann

We hope you enjoyed this series! Happy Holidays to you! May we all see more of these pollinators next year!


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