June Is National Pollinator Month

— Written By

Throughout the month of June, we will be highlighting pollinators that you may want to learn more about. These will be posted on our Facebook page.

If you miss a post on our Facebook page, no worries you can find them all on this page. Enjoy!!

1st Post: Spicebush Swallowtail (Pterourus troilus)

Our first shout-out for National Pollinator Month!

Check out this gorgeous, blue beauty! This pollinator is the spicebush swallowtail (Pterourus troilus), which are common to our area, feeding on… you guessed it, spicebush. The swallowtail caterpillar also feeds on tulip tree flowers, sassafras, and red bay. Zinnias, milkweed, verbena, and lantana are some of the plants they love for nectar in the butterfly stage. Even though the huge eyes on the caterpillar stage of this pollinator may look scary, they are harmless! They use those markings for protection against other predators. Click the links for more pictures and information on this lovely pollinator.

Spicebush Swallowtail

Butterflies of North Carolina – Spicebush Swallowtail

image of spicebush-swallowtail

Photo by: Mark Shields Comment: 2019-04-21. Onslow Co., male

image of spicebush swallowtail caterpillar

2nd Post:  Bees

Did you know that there are over 500 species of native bees in NC alone? Most are solitary, often homing in the ground or hollow stems. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors! Take a look at this ID publication for more info on the various bees you can find even in your backyard!

3rd Post:  Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

The ruby-throated hummingbird are very common to North Carolina because they are the only species of hummingbird that breeds in our state! Ruby-throated hummingbirds feed on small insects and nectar of plants that have tubular flowers, such as red buckeye, cross vine & trumpet creeper, butterfly bush, fuchsias, beebalm and many more (pollinating these plants as they go)! These insects and flowers are crucial to their diet. So, think about adding some of these plants to your landscape and don’t go too heavy on insect sprays (they are a great biological control for you at NO COST!).

image of a male hummingbird

Figure 1: Male

image of female hummingbird

Figure 2: Female

For supplemental nectar sources, hummingbird feeders are great! DO NOT USE: red dyes, honey, brown sugar, or fruit juice; they tend to spoil and can be very harmful to them (sometimes even fatal). A mix of 4 parts water to 1 part granulated sugar will work perfect and you can store any extra in the refrigerator! You should also clean your feeder (jug part and the port holes) every time you refill because they can build up with mold and thick, cloudy fluid that can be harmful as well. A hot water and vinegar solution is recommended instead of soap, in case any soap solution were to linger any of the feeder parts.

Controlling ants on your feeder stands can become a struggle too. The best item to get for this is an ant guard that is like a plastic cup that you hang directly from the feeder with water in it. The ants will get to this moat and get stuck in the water and not be able to get to the actual feeder hanging below.

image of hummingbird feeders

Figure 3: Ant Guard

Hanging up multiple feeders in various places around the yard is also a good idea because humming birds become territorial of feeders, often shooing others away keeping them from the nectar. “Feeders can be left up year round. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are neo-tropical migrants that will migrate even if feeders are left up, and some individuals or other unusual hummingbird species (e.g., rufous hummingbird) may visit a feeder during the winter. Most ruby-throats leave North Carolina and other southern states by mid-October and don’t return until late March” (N.C. Cooperative Extension & NC Forest Service).

Check out more information on hummingbirds here!

https://projects.ncsu.edu/goingnative/howto/design/wildneed/humbird.html

https://naturalsciences.org/research-collections/hummingbird/nc-hummers

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/404922

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/hummingbirds-and-butterflies

https://www.nps.gov/articles/hummingbirds.htm

N.C. Cooperative Extension & NC Forest Service. (n.d.). Attracting Hummingbirds. GOING NATIVE: Urban landscaping for wildlife with native plants. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/landscaping-for-wildlife-with-native-plants