The Beyond Nectar program on March 14th provided so much great information. We did the first part sitting at picnic tables under the building overhang. Wendy Poag from Lake County Office of Parks and Trails began by defining terms and concepts and introducing the group to her large collection of plant reference books, including books on weeds and an excellent guide for Selecting Plants for Pollinators.
Wendy asked the group what butterflies that are flitting around our yards are looking for. The answer depends on a lot of things, particularly species, gender, and time of year. To aid in our discussion, we were each given a Butterfly & Moth Bucket List form. If we’d had more time we would have filled out a monthly form for our favorite butterfly so we could attract them throughout the year (perhaps a topic for a future workshop?). Instead we talked in general about what butterflies in general might be looking for: nectar (different species prefer different flower colors and shapes), the opposite sex, shelter, and if female, the right plants to nourish their young. Wendy provided a lot of fascinating details and pointers about attracting and supporting butterflies. She stressed that one plant does no good. A cluster of plants will provide more scent for passing butterflies to notice and enough nectar to sustain the butterfly while it finds the other things it needs – flying takes a lot of energy!
Wendy then took us to what she called her “butterfly garden” – which looked suspiciously like a weedy lawn. She had pictures of butterflies on sticks which she place next to the weeds that are nectar sources or larval hosts for those butterflies. Who knew that the weeds we’ve been pulling can actually be valuable to butterflies? For example, the cudweed in the picture above is a larval host for the American Lady butterfly.
The final part of the program included walking through some of the restoration areas and searching for eggs and chrysalis in the butterfly demonstration garden while enjoying the beautiful weather.