Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard work closely with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln Bee Lab to make sure we have bees to pollinate our orchard. Bees are not the only pollinators that we find working in our orchards; butterflies are also a common pollinator.
Butterflies tend to be attracted to large flower clusters like coneflowers and milkweed. Crops like cherries and apples also have beautiful flowers that butterflies enjoy visiting. Each flower contains nectar and pollen the butterfly will use for food. The butterfly will move around from flower to flower to drink nectar, and in exchange, they will transfer pollen from flower to flower with them, accidentally pollinating as they go. The flowers in the orchard are pollinated when they bloom in mid to late spring. The flowers in our garden are pollinated during the blooming season for each specific species of a flowering plant. Pollination of flowers is essential for the orchard to produce fruit.
This is how butterflies benefit the orchard, but how does the orchard benefit the butterflies? The garden provides a place for butterflies to lay their eggs, and then caterpillars hatch from these eggs. After being laid, the egg will hatch in 3-6 days. The tiny caterpillars that emerge will snack on leaves before going into the chrysalis. From larva to chrysalis is a 4-week cycle. The caterpillar will remain in the cocoon for 5-21 days before a beautiful butterfly emerges. The whole life cycle of the butterfly can be seen at Kimmel. Next time you are at Kimmel, be on the lookout for butterflies in all shapes, sizes, and colors!