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Milkweed and native flowering plants in pollinator habitat
POLLINATOR HABITAT: Milkweed and native flowering plants aid not only the monarch butterfly, but also many other beneficial insects.

Tips for winterizing your pollinator habitat

A pollinator habitat that looks unkempt is a good habitat.

Winter in some places has already arrived. For others, it’s just around the corner, so it’s time to think about how to prepare pollinator habitat for the cold months ahead. Some may think there’s much pruning, raking and weeding coming, but a pollinator habitat that looks unkempt is a good habitat that aids in the winter survival of various beneficial insects.

Did you know:

• Most species of native bees hibernate underground during winter.

• The offspring of certain butterflies spend fall and winter in a chrysalis that clings to dried plant stems.

• Some butterflies overwinter as eggs or caterpillars and bury themselves deep in leaf litter.

• Other beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings spend winter in the hollow stems of old flowers.

Milkweed and native flowering plants aid not only the monarch butterfly, but also many other beneficial insects that benefit from a pollinator garden, too — especially during winter.

Here are some tips to follow to maintain a pollinator habitat:

• Don’t cut back the dried stalks of perennials (milkweed is a perennial).

• Don’t pull up dead annuals or weeds. They’ll trap whatever leaves blow by, creating their own enriching mulch while shielding insects.

• Don’t install a deep layer of mulch, which could block the insects’ escape in spring.

• Don’t disturb bare soil where many wild bee species, including bumblebees, overwinter in small nests.

• Do consider planting a cover crop to protect small animals and insects.

• Do add new perennials including bulbs, trees and shrubs at a time when fall moisture can help establish their root systems.

• Do delay tilling, or — better yet — don’t till at all.

Let your pollinator habitat go wild to provide a safe place for many beneficial insects throughout the winter months.

To learn more, visit monarchchallenge.com.

Source: Living Acres Monarch Challenge 

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