The leaves of Joe Pye weed are food for developing caterpillars. You may remember that the monarch caterpillars can feed only on the of milkweed plants. Common milkweed is rapidly disappearing from our roadsides, fields and yards due to development. Adult butterflies and bees enjoy nectaring at bee balm, zinnias, penstemons, milkweeds and sweet William, among many other plants. Many insects eat pollen from flowers and feed it to their young.
Different flower shapes serve different purposes for various pollinators. A tubular, bell shape attracts hummingbirds and long-tongued bees. Packed clusters of tiny flowers, such as the herb lovage or mountain mint, provide nectar for short-tongued pollinators such as hover flies and parasitic wasps. Night scented flowers like annual nicotiana and four o’clocks bring out many pollinating flies and moths who are active only at night.
Finally don’t forget about our native trees that provide nesting and cover. The mighty oak is the most important tree for hundreds of pollinators. Other trees such as Sassafras are more specialized, attracting the Spicebush Swallowtail, which feeds only on this and the native spicebush.