Hoary Vervain Insect Visitors

Hoary Vervain ~ Verbena stricta

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.

A second Skipper, my best guess is Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus), although we are a little north of its range. Perhaps due to our early spring warm-up this Skipper got a head start on its migration north and traveled a little further.

Cabbage White butterflies (Pieris rapae) are also frequent visitors seeking out nectar.

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.
Some of the first Soldier Beetles in our yard this season are on Hoary Vervain. They like to feed on both nectar and pollen on many types of flowers.

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)

This attractive, large Syrphid fly was using its long mouthpart to sponge up some nectar.

Syrphid flies are also predators, some larvae feed on aphids.

Bumble Bees also like the Hoary Vervain flowers. Less frequent visitors, probably because some preferred native species such as Wild Bergamot flower at the same time.

These medium-sized fast moving Long Horned Bees (Melissodes species) would stop on the Hoary Vervain just long enough so I could snap a photo.

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.
Two of the new bee species discoveries this season have occurred on Hoary Vervain.

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.

The second discovery, just last week was another Cuckoo (cleptoparasitic) Bee in the Genus Triepeolus. With bright orange legs and black and white striped body, it is an extremely attractive bee.

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.