In 1999, we put in a riparian buffer along McDowell Creek. We planted over a thousand bare-root seedlings that were part of the "wildlife bundle" we purchased from KSU's Forestry Department. The flowering shrubs featured below--American Plums, Fragrant Sumac, and Chokecherries--were in that bundle. But the same species also volunteer along the creek. Over time the two groups have merged with each other as the banks and channels have changed and the creek has rewritten itself.
This year it came home to me how important these early-blooming shrubs are to pollinators. What did the bottomground look like pre-settlement? I don't know, but today these shrubs are an essential early-spring sweet spot for butterflies, flies, and bees.
They weren't the only ones! I pulled a lawn chair into a thicket and just sat for a few moments. The blossoms were alive with Red Admiral butterflies, feral Honey Bees, and flies.
The video above shows some of what I saw. How I wish it could convey what all my senses perceived! The rustling, the buzzing, the fragrances, the feel of the air....
|Here Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica) appears|
to be blooming with butterflies as well
A month later, the Fragrant Sumac bloomed. So many butterflies! The shrubs seemed to be blooming with butterflies, as well as with flowers.
The luscious yellow blossoms were covered with butterflies, as shown in the video below. Most of the butterflies were Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui) and American Ladies (Vanessa virginiensis), though two beautiful Common Buckeyes (Junonia coenia) also made an appearance, as well as an Eastern Tailed Blue.
|An Eastern Tailed Blue nectars|
on Fragrant Sumac.
|A Mining Bee (Genus Andrena, Family Andrenidae) |
enjoys the nectar-rich blossoms of Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)
|A female Mining Bee gathers pollen to|
provision her nest.
Flowering shrubs, you are amazing! Where do you stop and the insects around you begin? You have roots, leaves, stems, branches, and flowers, but you also have all around you an aura of fluttering motion and color.
All photos and videos by Margy Stewart.