Seth, noted, milkweed plants are mostly pollinated by bees, not butterflies. Butterflies prefer to frequent flowers with a kind of a flat surface for landing, like asters or purple coneflowers. Monarchs use milkweeds to lay their eggs, and the Monarch caterpillars feed on milkweed leaves.
Steve was intrigued by the effects that changing climate was having on the bumble bees. The warmer temperatures are forcing the southern boundary of the range north, but there is little opportunity for the bees to disperse farther north, since the queens must begin to form their colonies immediately after they emerge. This means that cooler microclimates within their current range will be vital to conservation and that greater diversity of habitats will be key. As an example, Susan explained about how edges between the woods and prairie are important to the bumble bees.
Bumblebees sighted today:
Bombus auricomus black and gold
Bombus bimaculatus twospotted
Bombus griseocollis brownbelted
Bombus impatiens common eastern
Bombus vagans half-black
The federally-listed-as-endangered bee that we were hoping to see, but did not:
Bombus affinis rusty patched
Many thanks to Susan for her very engaging and informative tour. Report by Doris Dubielzig and Friends host Steve Sentoff, Photos by Glenda Denniston, Doris Dubielzig, Seth McGee, Steve Sentoff