During the summer of 2017, we are screening Oregon native plants for their attractiveness to beneficial insects, such as pollinators and parasitoids. This study is inspired by the great work that has come out of Doug Landis’ laboratory at Michigan State University. To our knowledge, no such list of plants (vetted by controlled research trials) exists for Oregon.
We selected 23 native Willamette Valley wildflower species based on drought tolerance, as well as four exotic garden species known to be attractive to pollinators for a comparison. During this past spring, we planted five meter squared plots of each species, forming five “blocks” of all 27 species for replication. Weekly, we monitor the floral bloom, perform timed pollinator observations, and use a ghost-busters looking “insect vacuum” (see below!) to sample insects in each plot.
Not only are we interested in finding plants that support ecosystem services; we also want to find plants that gardeners find attractive, and that they would want.
This is where you come in. We’ll be asking you to help us rank our study plants, by letting us know which ones you would like to see in your own garden, based on their looks, alone.
From this research we plan on developing empirically based, pollinator-friendly planting lists for the PNW. Stay tuned!
For additional updates and photos from this study, follow along at: http://pollinatorblog.weebly.com/