This article was originally published on October 2, 2017 and expired on October 9, 2017. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.
The weather is changing and that brings so many changes to the world around us. The temperature is falling, farmers are harvesting, and the leaves are turning. This cooler weather means major changes for the many animals and insects that we have in Illinois. Monarch butterflies are preparing for their migration to Mexico, many birds have started their move to the south, and even some of our local humans have begun preparations for their annual journey to the south, and the rest of us who stay here in Illinois are preparing to brave the cold. There are many things that we can do to help the insect and animal population prepare for the cooler months.
- Hummingbirds have a long journey ahead of them and they need a lot of energy to make this journey. Having hummingbird feeders out can help them on their migration. It is even good to up the sugar content from a 4 to 1 water to sugar ratio to a 3 to 1 ratio. Check your hummingbird feeders often to ensure that they are full and have nothing growing in them. Replace the water in them every few days to make sure you do not have fermented sugar water. No one wants drunk hummingbirds.
- Building a bee motel is a good way of providing shelter for several of the native pollinators in Illinois. There are many plans available online for “bee hotels”, but native plants and other areas are easy ways to provide the needed shelter. Leaving standing stems and other plant material in your gardens over the winter provides excellent shelter for the pollinators. Many pollinators overwinter in a larval or egg stage and removing this material can destroy these stages of the life cycle. Leaving bare ground or standing dead trees also provides important shelter sources in a habitat.
- Food becomes scarce in the winter for birds. As we have expanded our habitats we have reduced the bird's habitats. Having a variety of native plants in your gardens and flower beds provide some food for the birds that stay here throughout the winter but that food source often needs to be augmented. Make sure that your birdfeeders are filled with high-quality seed. A wide variety of feeder types and seeds increases the number of bird species your yard can support. Birds can provide a nice pop of color to otherwise monochromatic winter landscape.
Pollinators and birds are an important part of our ecosystems in Illinois. We need to be protecting and helping these creatures and some small changes to your yard can make a big difference. If you have any questions about Natural Resources please contact Jason Haupt (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Source: Jason Haupt, Extension Educator, Energy and Environmental Stewardship, email@example.com
Pull date: October 9, 2017