Prairie Dock & Agapostemon Sweat Bee

Meet our first featured herbaceous perennial: Silphium terebinthinaceum, or Prairie Dock. This plant loves full sun and can handle drought to somewhat moist soil conditions. Soil does not need to be amended as Prairie Dock does just fine in poor soil. The basal foliage gets to about three feet tall (sometimes the leaves themselves get up to two feet long!) The flowers sit atop a tall stem, eight feet or more in height. They are perfect if you’re looking for some height towards the back of your garden! Flowers are a beautiful sunshine yellow. The seeds from these flowers provide food for songbirds. Many bees and other pollinators enjoy nectar from them too.

The picture below shows an Agapostemon virescens, or Agapostemon Sweat Bee. If this bee sits still long enough for you to look at it (it’s camera shy and not aggressive), you’ll see it has a brilliant green metallic color for its head and thorax while its abdomen is striped. These bees are solitary ground nesters. The females dig branched burrows in the ground with one common entrance. They then gather pollen and nectar, create a ball of nourishment and lay an egg on top of it at the end of one of the tunnels. The females will not share the branching tunnels with each other, but may share a common entrance to them and take turns standing guard at the entrance as well as keeping it free from debris.

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