|Many people never think of paper wasps as pollinators, but many species are. This is Polistes annularis, a relatively common woodland/suburban resident. In addition to foraging for nectar, they also hunt small insects and caterpillars.|
|Meet the Gray Bee Fly, one of May's little zooming gems. Like many of the nectaring fly species, they are able to hover and change flight angles in seemingly impossible ways.|
This life-cycle story is similar for most of the solitary bees no matter when they emerge during the season, and no matter where they nest.
May ushers in the era of the big, long-lasting blossoms which require a good deal of light, heat and water to fuel their slow development. The myriad insects that inhabit and animate the summer also begin to emerge. Right now is a good time to hunt around your garden for the larval forms of insects such as ladybugs. These larva are beneficial in that they prey on the same aphids as their parents. Bees and flies still predominate the pollination scene in May, but the paper wasps are busy crafting their durable, papyrus nurseries, and mature beetles, butterflies and moths can now begin to depend on the blossoms they require for nutrition and find the host plants they need for reproduction. May is also an excellent time to tune up your native bee spotting and identification skills. It’s not too hot and your garden has not yet been chewed, sawed, blighted and roasted. It’s lovely out there.
|A water source is an important constituent of any garden setting. Paper wasps need water to create their papyrus, but other insects require fresh water as well.|
But really, when all is said and done, you don’t have to name them or classify them or count them or even notice them for that matter. What matters is that you create a space where they can thrive and let them do their timeless work. In the garden shop, look for plants that attract butterflies and bees. And I am not a “native” absolutist by any means. If the insects like it, it’s part of the solution.Guest writer: Robert Brown, LRNow Stewardship and Access Committee