It's been in the 50s, at night for the past couple of days, and it feels almost as cold during the daylight hours. Today the heat is supposed to rise into the 90s. But there is still a chill in the air, even as I type.
We did get some much needed rain. The vitex is in full bloom right now, the sand plums are ripe, and the persimmons are on the trees, but still very sour.
The yarrow is all but spent, but the Gloriosas are blooming, you might know the latter as Black Eyed Susans. Purple Cone Flowers are at their prime and the willows are making clusters of cottony seeds on the wind.
We found indigenous morning glories, all pale pink with magenta centers, with much larger blooms than store bought varieties. And the last of the green milkweed are producing their pods full of seeds. Honey Suckles are fading, but the orange trumpet flowers have begun their reign, along with every kind of day lily you can imaging.
I read that due to the drought last year and other factors, that to expect a 30% decline in Monarchs for this year's migration. Other factors being that farmers are using more land and killing off the milkweed that they need for larvae.
You can read that whole story here: Monarch Butterflies Down Again This Year As Decline Continues.
I am sure that neonictinoids have nothing to with that, with the target insects being in the lepidoptera Order and all.
Nope, nothing to see here folks, so keep it moving.
So what can you do?
Make pollinator islands. Plant some milkweed for butterflies. And avoid using pesticides on your lawn, and provide water sources. Many butterflies like to do something called Puddling.
Maybe you cannot make a little mud wallow in your yard, but you can use a planter dish and some pebbles to create a water source for butterflies and bees. You want to make the pebbles deep enough, that the insects can land on them and drink without falling in and drowning.
Some butterflies prefer over ripe or rotting fruit. You can make a similar feeder with old banana peels, melon chunks or browning grapes and apples, also in a planter dish. It's not pretty, so you can hide it in some flowers or behind a tree. They will like that too.
Although in my fantasy world, people devote their entire yards to gardens and habitat, I know that isn't necessarily feasible. But don't let that stop you from even creating a small space, a little sanctuary for these creatures.
Just think of it this way. If everyone made a small space in their yard that could, there would be islands, tiny oasis for these insects to visit for food and water and for nesting.
Although I would love it it anyone went big, the best advice I can give you is to not overwhelm yourself. Start small and decide later if you want to build on that in terms of gardening and labor. Keep it simple.
Every little bit helps, so it's better if you do a little, than become intimidated or tired and do nothing at all. Soon though, the Monarchs will be migrating through the south and southwest. So now is the time to stick seedlings in the ground. It's late to start seed for much of anything but maybe clover or buckwheat. But a clump of seedlings from a nursery will do just fine. Many plants that butterflies love, need cold stratification, which means you plant the seeds the fall before.
So soon I will be reminding you to plant those seeds for next spring.
Additional sites you can visit:
I found this site for planning a School Pollinator Garden [heads up school teachers], now it's for the Sonoran Desert, but there is no reason why this cannot be adjusted for other biomes, and for smaller spaces and workforces.
Check out the Great Pollinator Project! Very cool.
And even though this is not a plan, check this out--Pollinator Pathway, I have had similar thoughts, and I am glad to see that 1. I am not the only one, and 2. it is being realized now, and could be reproduced. Though this site does provide some plans/designs!
No doubt, soon I will be lamenting the heat, and I will look back at these cooler days with nostalgia.
Good luck and Happy Summer