Protecting pollinators and keeping unwanted pests out

Milkweeds are a good nectar source for both bees and butterflies in the spring.

Spring is known for awakening some of nature’s most beautiful and bothersome insects.

Every rainfall, similar to the one we had this past week, increases the odds of mosquitos returning in greater numbers this spring.

“Mosquitos have been in hibernation and laying their eggs in the winter,” said Matt Wilson, pest control supervisor for Preferred Pest Control. “They will start to hatch and appear in larger numbers when the surface temperature reaches 50 degrees.

“An interesting thing about mosquitoes is that they cannot fly more than 200 meters at a time,” Wilson said. “They also can only live 1 to 3 miles from their original breeding site.”

This gives homeowners time to get ahead of the spread by treating around their property and taking preventive measures.

“What we will do when we come out is spray a fogger with a chemical that lasts for around a month,” Wilson said. “I would recommend having your property sprayed from spring into late summer.”

Most mosquitoes taper off in the fall, but Wilson has had to spray even into November if above-average temperatures stick around.

“You should empty out anything with standing water including umbrellas, kids’ toys and trash cans,” Wilson said.

Scattering coffee grounds and granulated garlic near problem sites are two natural but less-effective solutions. If there is a pond nearby, consider moving out the algae with a skimmer or net.

Mosquitoes and butterflies are two of our flyers that feast on pollen that will begin increasing during our warmer months.

“We are already starting to see some pop out, including our Mourning Cloaks, Cabbage White, Red Admiral and the Eastern Comma,” said Shelly Cox, Remington Nature Center naturalist. “These over winter have taken shelter and changed over from caterpillars.”

Butterflies and bees are crucial species in the food chain and do more harm than good for the environment around them.

“Not all species of butterflies feed on nectar. Others prefer animal dung,” Cox said. “This is why in open areas on pastures or farms that there are more butterflies present.”

The only host plant for monarchs is milkweed. After growing milkweeds, expect to see an influx of bees buzzing around, which can be a factor to consider when determining what to grow in your yard.

“The monarchs and swallowtails are a favorite but we don’t see a whole lot of those until summertime,” Cox said. “Black-eyed Susans and marigolds are two butterfly plants during those later months that will bloom and attract more.”

Pesticides play a large role in decreasing the pollution of bees and butterflies each year. The best time of day to spray insecticides is in the early morning or evening when species are not foraging. Consider using citronella candles and this will not only keep the good insects safe but make time outside more enjoyable.

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