June, 2019
Hello fellow gardeners!

I hope your spring has been productive so far! I have found another outlet to spread the word about gardening.  I have a facebook page called Kerri's flowers. At this point, I have just shared some pictures. I have had some interaction from others as well as an invitation to go see a garden. It was beautiful! Thanks to my friend and gracious host Karen for inviting me to her home and gifting me some lovely lavender she grew from seed!

Today, I wanted to talk about pollinators and the plants they love. I will focus on bats and bees. Other pollinators include birds, ants, wasps, flies, and other insects.

BATS!

Yikes! I always thought bats were scary. The poor things have been victimized by Hollywood. They actually help us a great deal. Did you know according to the Department of Natural Resources, they can eat up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour?! Now there is a creature Hollywood could build some scary movies around, THE MOSQUITO!!! I would much rather have bats then mosquitos and I am sure you agree.
It is also estimated that they provide about 1 billion dollars in free pest control for corn farmers. 1 BILLION.

Well I decided to do my part (to control mosquitoes anyway) and put up a bat house. I did some research and found there are instructions on the internet that show you how to build your own. You can go that route, or if you are deemed unsafe for power tool use, like me, you can shell out 30-40 dollars and get one already assembled. You don't even have to comb your hair and put makeup on. You can fire up the computer (or use the app on your phone) and order from amazon! EASY PEASY.

There are 9 species of bats in Iowa. The most common is the brown bat. Bats are protected by law here, meaning it is illegal to hurt, capture, or kill them. Bats often roost in dead trees or abandoned barns. If you have a dead tree on your property, instead of tearing it down, one option is to leave it for a possible bat condo.

For my friends in Missouri, you can count 14 species of bats many of which are deemed vulnerable or endangered so get to building or ordering those houses people!

Now, once you have your bat house, you will need a place that gets at least 6 hours of sun. It also needs to be mounted 12-20 feet above ground or above the tallest vegetation underneath it. Ideally it should be 1/4 mile from a water source such as a pond, creek, or stream.
Again, I have deemed far too ungraceful to be on a tall ladder, but I have a wonderful husband, who does not mind a bit. If I'm not mistaken, this was his first bat house experience, so you are welcome Casey!




BEES

When I think of bees, I automatically picture a bumble or honey bee. These are great pollinators and as you likely know, they live socially. There are other types of bees that also pollinate, but live more isolated lives. They do not produce honey or beeswax. One is the mason bee. This is a common name and it came about because they use masonry to make their nests. They are considered not aggressive and only sting as a last resort. If I were a bee, I would aspire to be this type. They work, work, work, and stay out of trouble. NO DRAMA for them. They do great as pollinators and are often used on fruit farms.

I decided to get a house for mason bees. These too can be bought on line or you can also do a homemade version. Info is readily available on the internet. If you want more info, email or message me and I will get some to you. It will need to be positioned at least 39 inches from the ground, preferably east facing so it gets morning sun to warm the bees. If the bees inhabit the house you make for them, you will have to harvest the cocoons if you want the bees to survive the winter. The harvested cocoons can be stored in your refrigerator for the winter months. As I am typing this, I am saying to myself, " I think I forgot to tell Casey that part."




Anyway on to plants...

I have included pictures(keep scrolling) of some great plants for pollinators. If you have the option, have at least some native options in your yard. Most garden centers have a native section, or mark the native plants. I am sure you already have some native species in your yard, as these are all fairly common to a midwest garden.

I have listed a few plants below for specific pollinators. These may or may not be native to your area. I try to stick to common names for all(vs proper scientific name).

Caterpillars like Borage, Fennel, grasses, lupine, curly parsley, milkweed, and willow for example.

Hummingbirds like ajuga, sage, bee balm, phlox, salvia, columbine, heuchera(coral bells), butterfly weed, cardinal flower, etc.

Bees like most of the above as well including basil, lavender, joe pye weed, rosemary, hyssop, coneflower, cosmos, black eyed susan, etc.

I hope everyone has fun watching and learning from that world out there! Please share your pics or questions with me. I love seeing and learning more!
















The purpose of a garden is to give its owner the best and highest kind of  earthly pleasure-Gertrude Jekyll 


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