Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Hoary Vervain Insect Visitors
I planted more Hoary Vervain a few years ago in our landscape because it likes dry, sandy locations in full sun. Now, I'm enjoying a significant increase in the diversity of pollinators and insect visitors coming to Hoary Vervain.
Small Skipper Butterflies like the tubular five-parted flowers. Pictured here, Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius), one of the easier small skippers to identify with its distinct markings.
Hoary Vervain flowers from the bottom upwards, on the tall narrow flower spike. The flowering time can therefore last from July into September providing a nice source of nectar for insects.
Soldier Beetles are predators of other insects and are therefore considered natural enemies. Falling in the family Cantharidae, some soldier beetle adults will feed on aphids, and insects eggs and larvae providing biological control.
(Michigan State University, Natural Enemies)
Syrphid flies are also predators, some larvae feed on aphids.
This particular bee likes to fly around other bees nectaring and take small jabs at them. They seem to spend their time doing this more than landing on flowers for pollen or nectar.
This Cuckoo Leafcutting Bee (Coelioxys species) is a cleptoparasite of Leafcutter Bees. With no means to collect pollen, its only visiting the Hoary Vervain for nectar. Read more about the Cuckoo Leafcutting Bee here: Another New Native Bee Discovery.
These bees lay their eggs in the nests of Long-Horned Bees (Melissodes species).
If you have an open, sunny location with medium to dry soils, I highly recommend Hoary Vervain. Its upright stature, coarse leaves and long blooming purple flowers make it a great addition to any landscape or prairie.