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Plants Attracting Pollinators In Omaha, NE

Plants Attracting Pollinators In Omaha, NE

Choosing the right plant material is a good start for a pollinator-friendly landscape. Since pollen is the main food source for pollinators, knowing the bloom time and making sure those flowering times overlap and extend through the growing season is also important.

Who are the Pollinators In Omaha, NE?

Pollinators come in many sizes, shapes, colors, behaviors–that’s what we can observe.  They also can be related to each other, sometimes closely, sometimes not.  We group related organisms (plants, insects, etc…) under very large families called orders like bees, flies, wasps, butterflies, moths and beetles (all common names).

So the first thing is to learn how to tell which order your pollinator belongs to. If you take pictures of your pollinators, you can then compare them to other pictures on the Internet.

Some insects are very tricky; they imitate other insects from a different order to confuse us (more likely to confuse predators so they don’t get eaten so often).  There are always special cases but what we need are rules (keys) that work well most of the time, not every time.

Wasps or Bees pollinators in Omaha, NE?

Bees are adapted to collecting and carrying pollen so they have finely branched hair where the pollen gets trapped.  These hairs make the bees look like they are wearing a tiny, fuzzy coat!  This is especially noticeable on their thorax (where the wings are attached).  Bees’ legs are also hairy and have a special shape to hold the pollen together in small pellets during flight.

Compared to wasps, bees body sections are more rounded than elongated. Wasps don’t collect and carry pollen; they just eat the nectar of flowers.  If they have hair, it is unbranched so they appear less fuzzy than bees.  Their whole body can even look very smooth and shiny and is usually more elongated (cylinder like) than a bee’s, even slender.

Butterfly or Moth pollinators in omaha, ne?

Maybe you don’t expect to see moths when observing pollinators during daytime but there are a few around. You might see some foraging long before sunset and wonder whether they are butterflies or moths.

When resting on a flower, rock, etc., moths keep their wings flat open or folded around their body, while butterflies fold their wings up above their body when resting.  That’s an easy way to tell them apart, even from a distance.

Beetles

Beetles are also common on flowers but you might not notice them as often as other pollinators. They are easy to distinguish.  For one thing, their forewings (they have 2 pairs like bees and wasps), are not much of a wing.  They even have a special name – elytra – to differentiate them from real wings used for flight.  The elytra of a beetle are modified for protection of the 2 real wings underneath. They are thick and strong and you cannot see through them.  When a beetle wants to fly, it has to open it’s elytra first and use its hindwings to fly. Beetles are believed to be the very first pollinators more than a 100 million years ago.

Plants Attracting Pollinators In Omaha, NE

A good choice for very early bloom is native or hybridized witch hazel (Hamamelis). Its fragrance and showy color, in contrast to other plants in the winter landscape, lure in the pollinators that emerge this time of year. Another early native shrub is Missouri River willow (Salix eriocephala), which blooms in February and produces excellent pollen for bees to make into high-grade honey.

Spring is early this year

So native Juneberry (Amelanchier), dogwood, redbud, cherry and plum may also be blooming in time for early emerging pollinators. Fruit trees in general are great for pollinators.

Pulsatilla patens

A native March-blooming perennial is pasque flower (Pulsatilla patens). It’s a great source for early emerging bumble bees as an alternative to daffodils and tulips. Pasque flowers track the sun throughout the day while providing a generous amount of pollen and a warm place for pollinators to explore.

Lungwort

Lungwort (Pulmonaria saccharata) begins blooming in April in shady or wooded areas. Pollinators tend to prefer the early pink-toned flowers, which typically have more pollen and nectar than the later blue blossoms.

Brunnera

Brunnera macrophylla a non-native with delicate blue flowers, blooms for a long period beginning in April. It is an excellent shade plant with many different varieties to choose from, including the variegated Jack Frost. Brunnera mainly attracts bees, but other types of moths and flies will also pay the tiny blue flowers a visit.

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