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Hometown Farmer - Planting for pollinators

Hometown Farmer - Planting for pollinators

You can become a hometown farmer and help the food you love to thrive, too!

We're heading to the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center this week in "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," to talk about planting for pollinators.

If you visit the center right now, you can see them flitting around by the hundreds, maybe the thousands!

"They've been landing on your head and your arms and just taking a hike with you, wherever you've been going," said Dawn Snyder, Education Programs Director at the center.

We're talking about Hackberry Emperor butterflies, and they're not here by accident.

The folks at the nature center have been planting for them!

"If you can plant flowers that have some great nectar sources, that's good for the adults," said Snyder.

You can make plantings specifically for insects like the butterflies, which are called pollinators.

"Seventy-five-percent or more of our foods need a pollinator, so if you want something as simple as apples, oranges, bananas," said Snyder.

Luckily, you can plant for pollinators at home, too.

"You can have a simple container garden, you can have a whiskey barrel or container garden on your back patio, or you can have acres of garden," said Snyder. "It just depends on how much you want to do or how labor intensive you want it to be."

So what's good for these insects?

"You've got to get a host plant, as well, for those caterpillars or larvae to eat, and once they become and adult stage, then they need something else to munch on, or drink the nectar," said Snyder.

Some species, like Monarch butterflies, need Milkweed, specifically.

"The numbers are down, they've been looking at having them listed as an endangered species," said Snyder, talking about the Monarch.

Bees are pollinators, too.

Plants that are native to the area are good for them, they love that pollen.

Other good plants are growing all around the center, like Daylilies, Lilies and Purple Prairie Clover.

Whatever you plant, just make sure you keep your garden kind of dirty at the end of the season.

"If you're not as tidy as a gardener, like me, I'm not as tidy, that's a good thing, because if you leave a little bit of a habitat, then those eggs, or larvae, or pupae, whichever stage that insect is in, will carry through to the next year." said Snyder.

Snyder also says other good pollinator plants for your garden would be:

- Phlox

- Purple Cone Flower

- Aster

- Milkweed

- Milk Vetch

- Joe-Pye Weed

- Coreopsis

- Clover

- Butterfly Weed

- Blazing Star

If you think of a farmer that might be great on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please email Jake at: jheller@siouxlandnews.com.

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