It is still winter, but the days are gradually becoming longer and here at Red Stem we are readying our tools and ordering plants. In the same spirit, we pulled out a smart phone video one of our Red Stem customers recorded in her yard last summer. It reminds us why we do this work and it made us smile!
There is milkweed in this garden for monarch caterpillars, and plenty of nectar for the adult butterflies, which do not eat solid food–they only sip! Every butterfly’s caterpillar stage requires specific plant leaves, but adult butterflies seek nectar from flowers that are the right shape, color, and size for them. We know that nectar’s chemical constituents vary from plant to plant, and although scientists are not completely clear on what that means for pollinators (there is some bee research on this), we do know that blazing stars are among the monarch’s favorites. As for flower color, flowers look different to insects than they do to us: butterflies see only higher frequency light, so they see ultraviolet but not red; human’s see the lower frequencies like red, but we can’t see ultraviolet light.