Native Plant Hedgerow Project Attracts Many Beneficial Insects
- posted on: January 3, 2016
- posted by: Kurt Sahl
In late 2015, 21 Acres was honored to receive a Regional Food System Grant from King Conservation District. The award was used to construct a hedgerow consisting of native plants in order to investigate the habitat preferences of beneficial insect populations.
21 Acres consulted with leading plant and insect ecologists in the region and enlisted many volunteers. Dr. Julie Combs, an ecologist and invasive plant species citizen science educator, created the hedgerow design consisting of 18 planting circles, all 10 feet in diameter along a 300 linear foot property border.
Informed by the farm’s sandy loam soils, the expected beneficial and pest insect populations, and physical exposure of the site, Dr. Combs also recommended different mulch treatments as a means of gauging habitat preferences. This past summer we recorded over 200 volunteer hours dedicated to site preparation, invasive plant removal, and planting 270 native plants representing 30 different species.
During recent site visits by Dr. Combs and a KCD team consisting of Mary Embleton, Joshua Monaghan, and Bill Knutsen, numerous sites were observed with established ground-dwelling native bees! Just in their first year, the Canadian goldenrod and Douglas aster attracted many different beneficial species including bumble bees, sweat bees, hover flies, and honey bees. We also noticed a few other plant candidates that established quickly and have strong potential to provide early season forage and habitat: coyote brush, Henderson checker mallow, big leaf and riverbank lupine, and manzanita. In the coming weeks we will be taking soil samples, prepping for mulch treatments (wood chips, pebbles, and native soil) all in the anticipation of increasing habitat opportunities that will attract beneficial insects to the hedgerow.
Top photo: Hover fly on Douglas aster (Kurt Sahl)
Bottom photo: Coyote brush By Miguel Vieira [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons