Gardening in Louisiana * butterflies and bees

A home gardener can do little to affect the loss of commercial honeybee hives. We can, however, help support native pollinators by creating pollina­tor-friendly landscapes and pollinator gardens, as well as protecting wildlife habitat.

Pollination in plants occurs when pollen from the male parts of flowers is transferred to the female parts of flow­ers and fertilizes the eggs. This results in fruit containing seeds. The flowers of some plants are able to carry out this process without any help from pollina­tors. The structure of tomato flowers, for instance, allows them to be pollinated even if not visited by bees. Many trees and all of the grasses are wind pollinated and do not make use of pollinators. They release pollen into the air and allow the wind to carry it to the female parts of other flowers.

Gardeners have long created gardens for butterflies and hummingbirds. Many of the flowers fed on by butterflies and hummingbirds will attract bees and other insects. The many kinds of salvias so commonly used in butterfly and hum­mingbird gardens will also attract bees. When planting to attract more types of pollinators, also choose flowers that are easy for bees to feed on, such as the clo­vers (white and crimson) and members of the aster family, (daisies, sunflowers and zinnias).

You may also provide larval food plants for butterflies. Butterflies lay eggs only on certain plants, which vary depending on the species of butterfly. Monarch caterpillars will only feed on milkweed plants, and Gulf fritillary cat­erpillars prefer species of passion vines. The parsley worm, which grows up to be the Eastern black swallowtail, feeds on parsley, dill and fennel. Sulfur butterflies lay their eggs on cassias, while bean leaves are the preferred food of long-tailed skip­per caterpillars.

  • Milkweed. (swamp or tropical) …
  • Maypop/ passion flower. …
  • Dill. …
  • Fennel. …
  • Common sage. …
  • Parsley. …
  • Candlestick cassia. …
  • Bee balm/monarda.

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