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Observations from a Pollinator Garden

Karl Foord - Extension Educator, Horticulture

I just returned from a two week absence from my garden due to training and a vacation, and I was anxious to see how things had progressed.

Karl Foord

Photo 1: Leaf with holes created by leaf-cutter bees

The first thing I saw was an 'Autumn Blaze' maple volunteer on the edge of my sidewalk. Normally this would be simply a weed to pull, BUT in this case the maple leaves told an interesting story. The holes in the leaves were clearly the work of leaf-cutter bees (Megachile spp.) (photo 1). Notice that the holes cut by the bees have two different shapes. One shape is a circle (photo 2) best for plugging nesting holes, and another shape is oblong best for lining nesting holes (photo 3).

Karl Foord

Photo 2: Round holes for plugging tunnels

Karl Foord

Photo 3: Oblong holes for lining tunnels

And sure enough the leaf-cutter bee was found working a flower on Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta) (photo 4).

Karl Foord

Photo 4: Leaf-cutter bee (Megachile spp.) on Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta)

Also observed was an Andrenid bee on Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Karl Foord

Photo 5: Andrenid bee on Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Karl Foord

Photo 6: Male Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

Karl Foord

Photo 7: Male Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) perching after having caught prey

Another fascinating creature resident in the pollinator garden was a male Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) coming in for a landing (photo 6) and perching after having caught prey (photo 7).

The garden continues to provide compelling theatre for the patient and observant. Please enjoy your garden!

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