We have a pollinator-friendly yard. Actually, you could say it is pollinator-welcoming. We haven’t ever used pesticides in our yard and, over the 10+ years we have lived here, planted a lot of native flowering plants. We also don’t use weed killers so our lawn is full of dandelions and creeping charlie along with other flowering “weeds”. We keep our lawn mower blade at a height that allows most of those flowering plants an opportunity to bloom. And we have a lot of flowering trees. All in all, our yard is welcoming and supportive of pollinating insects.
Despite all the bees visiting our yard, I have found it is difficult to get good pictures of them. So I was excited when a bumblebee was willing to let me photograph it while it gathered pollen from a flowering tree. Below are some of the photographs.
This is a follow up to my First Observations of 2019 post from May.
On Sunday, June 7, around 4 in the afternoon, we heard the first cicadas of 2019. I call cicadas the “hot bugs” because they are the most active when the summer becomes hot. While the temperatures were pleasant on Sunday, I knew we were getting into the hot time of year when I heard the cicadas .
This is the first year in which I recorded the first observations of the year. The following are a few of our observations:
- Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) – I heard but didn’t see the first red-winged blackbird in our yard on Sunday, March 31. This was 10 days after others had seen them in the Twin Cities area. I didn’t see or hear a red-winged blackbird again for at least a month. A pair, however, has set up home near us and are regular visitors to our tray feeder.
- I saw the first bumblebees on Monday, May 13.
- Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) – I saw a female ruby-throated hummingbird flying around our backyard on Wednesday, May 15. A day later I observed a male in our yard. They now visit our feeders numerous times per day.
- Kat saw the first monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on Thursday, May 16.
Every year, starting around mid-July, the cicadas emerge to serenade us. We typically have at any given time, what sounds to my ear, to be two or three cicadas in our yard. This year, however, there have been so many that I am unable to count them by listening. And they emerged earlier than usual, with the first being heard at the tail end of June!
Near a stump in our yard, I counted nine shed exoskeletons and at least one live cicada.
While cicadas and crickets aren’t attractive insects like monarch or swallowtail butterflies, I enjoy the buzz of the cicadas and the trill of crickets, especially at night when I have the bedroom windows open.
Five years ago, we planted a small native wildflower garden in our back yard. Every year we add more native wild flowers. One of the first plants we planted was Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia). They have established themselves and are slowly spreading.
A frequent visitor to the coneflowers are Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus).