Everyone loves butterflies and lightning bugs in the summer and we are all dependent on bees as pollinators for our food. Monarch butterflies were added to the Endangered Species List in July 2022. One insect that most of us don’t care for are 17 year cicadas, which will be in Riverside in 2024. Here are some garden tips to consider.
- Try to delay Spring garden cleanup until temperatures are consistently over 50 degrees at night. This will allow overwintering insects (including native bees and butterflies) to emerge. They spend the winter in the soil and on plant stems.
- Spraying for mosquitos seems like an obvious solution to a pesky problem. However, the pesticides used are not specific and will also kill beneficial insects including pollinators. In addition, the poisons in pesticides eventually end up in water sources, which harms fish and the animals they depend on. Pesticides can affect pets and can cause allergic reactions in children and adults.
- Populations of pollinators are declining in Illinois, partially due to a decline in spring blooming native flowers. Many native spring bloomers are ephemerals (which disappear after a month or two and will return the next Spring). Some examples of spring bloomers are Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans) and Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata). A webinar on spring bloomers can be viewed here.
Here are lists of native plant sources are:
- A brood of 17-year cicadas will emerge in Spring 2024. After they emerge, they will crawl up trees and deposit eggs in branches, thereby damaging the branches. Young trees are especially vulnerable to this. Therefore, you should talk to a professional before planting young trees this year. You can put netting (such as cheesecloth) over the young trees to help protect them. Pesticides are largely ineffective against cicadas since the adults do not feed after emerging. 2023 may not be the best year to plant trees, especially the fall of 2023.
- In the spring, the Landscape Advisory Commission will be running an Invasive Trade-in program. Homeowners will be able to trade in specific invasive plants for one free native plant. Buckthorn will definitely be on the list of invasives.