At Home With Nature

Watching Our Pollinator Neighbors

Once the days are warm and the flowers in bloom, one of my greatest and most simple pleasures is watching insects – and our garden affords many opportunities to do just that.

Metallic green sweet bee (Agapostemon) on cosmos flower.

Actually, harvesting food from our garden makes me quite happy, but honestly, not as happy as watching these little “neighbors” of ours buzzing around from flower to flower.

Hunt’s bumble bee (Bombus huntii) foraging on a sunflower.

Although I do keep the pollinators in mind when I plan our garden every year, sometimes I plant flowers purely for the excitement of trying something new and beautiful, such as these Lauren’s Grape poppies.

Bee and bumble bee approaching a Lauren’s grape poppy.

But I wasn’t the only one delighted by these lovely blooms – the bees went crazy for them.

And my feeling is, the more the merrier. There is a room for flowers tucked in between our veggie crops, and that means more bees and butterflies.

Chad and I were both thrilled when a monarch stopped off at our patch of sulfur cosmos flowers for a meal.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on sulfur cosmos.

Wasps are also regular residents of the garden. I frequently watch them and sneak up close to take photos – so far, no stings, and not much sign that they even mind being watched.

They are particularly enraptured by the umbel shaped flower heads of the dill and cilantro that come up as volunteers every year, as well as any flowers that happen to bolt.

This year we left the bolted carrots in the ground as pollinator food instead of pulling them.

Paper wasp (Polistes dominulus) on carrot flowers.

I observed many different types of bees this summer, not just honeybees, but I haven’t learned all their names yet. (They have been a bit too preoccupied foraging to introduce themselves.)

Bee on cosmos flower.

This year I learned that I have been mistakenly identifying this fuzzy bee-like insect that tries to pass itself off as a bee. I was wise to this ruse, and thought it was a hoverfly.

Bee fly on sulfur cosmos flower.

I was wrong. While trying to ID it, I learned differently. It is yet another type of insect known as a “bee fly.”

Like the monarch butterfly pictured above, these bee flies have long tongues, which is why they both favor the same types of flowers.

Bee on sunflower.

This is also why having a diverse assortment of flowers will bring a diverse assortment of pollinators!

But while the bee flies, wasps, bees, and butterflies were a delight to watch, no one can compare with our hummingbird guests.

Broad tailed hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus) with Vermilion Bluffs Mexican sage.

They enjoyed the Vermilion Bluffs Mexican sage plants that were new to our garden this year.

And since I have big plans for native plant additions this fall, next year our hummingbird guests will find even more red, tubular flowers to feed on!

Are you a pollinator watcher too? Who’s hanging out in your garden with you? Drop me a note in the comments section to let me know!

Love butterflies? See how we “met” the painted lady!

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: