While many flowers are finished blooming by the fall, several pollinators, like bees, butterflies, moths, wasps and flower flies, are still out foraging for food.
The most well-known fall forager is the monarch butterfly, which needs nectar to fuel its southward migration. Bumblebees must gain a certain amount of weight to successfully hibernate through winter. Honey bees continue to gather nectar and pollen, which keeps the hive in full production.
Nature has a way of providing fall food resources with late blooming flowering plants. You can see these plants scattered along roadsides and in fields and your pollinator gardens.
Here are a few you are probably seeing right now:
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Boneset can reach heights up to 5 feet and has clusters of wispy white flowers that attract many pollinators, especially honey bees. It blooms July through October and can withstand full sun or full shade.
Maximillian sunflower is in bloom along our roadsides and other margins. It has large bright yellow flowers clustered on tall stems that can be 10 feet tall. Its roots can reach 15 feet deep, and it can be aggressive and take over a pollinator planting. Native bees, bumblebees and butterflies utilize this flower.
New England aster has brilliant blooms ranging in color from blue-purple to lavender-pink with yellow-orange centers. The flowers can reach up to 6 feet in height and are attractive to bees and butterflies alike. The flowers provide sugar-rich nectar and high amino acid content, which help with hungry butterflies as well as those still breeding. It grows in part to full sun in well-drained soils.
Goldenrods are abundant with about 100 to 120 species of flowering plants in the aster family. Most are herbaceous perennial species found in open areas, like fields.
Fall is a great time to go outdoors and enjoy pollinator activity as well as watching the color of the landscape that will continue to change over the next three months.