by Renate Sander-Regier

The 2019 season has been slow at the University of Ottawa – for pollinator activity, pollinator habitats, and pollinator surveys. But more and more flowers are appearing throughout campus, and a new team of volunteers has been conducting surveys and working on the pollinator habitats. Here is a photo update.


The cool, wet spring this year delayed flowering, and the plants are starting to make up for lost time – with some blooming periods a bit mixed up. Here is a selection of current blooms from various pollinator survey sites, including deliberately established pollinator habitat, and other campus landscape plantings.

False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) in a raised pollinator bed behind the Leblanc residence. This cheerful sunflower-like plant attracts pollinators and enlivens the campus, but we have found it to be a little too muscular for the small space where it is growing.

The original clump is expanding rapidly, pushing out its neighbours, and seeding out prolifically. This plant is better suited to larger-scale meadow plantings that offer robust competition – like the area the original clump came from.

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) starting to flower behind the Leblanc residence. This plant is very attractive to pollinators, and we have found it to be well behaved in various garden situations.

The university planted a mass of Kalm’s St. John’s Wort (Hypericum kalmianum) near the Faculty of Social Sciences building. Bumblebees forage in great numbers on the cute flowers produced by this low-growing shrub.

Kalm’s St. John’s Wort (Hypericum kalmianum) flowers.

The university added Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) to the recently renovated Morisset Terrace. Bumblebees are also drawn to this attractive perennial.

Pollinator diversity

It is not easy to capture good photos of pollinators in action. Many fly very quickly, making their movements difficult to follow. And when they stop, they rarely stay put long enough to have their picture taken.We have not managed to take publishable photos of the smaller bees and flies, so you will have to believe us when we report sightings of the usual campus pollinator diversity: Bumblebees, various Flower Flies, and lots of smaller wild bees including Lasioglossum, Andrena, Ceratina, Halictus, Augochlora, Agapostemon, Megachile, and Nomada.A 2018 account of campus pollinator diversity offers excellent photos of some smaller native bees: Campus walks for pollinators

Signs of pollinator activity

It is not always necessary to see pollinators in action to know that they are present. We have, for example, been finding signs of leafcutter bee activity around the Leblanc pollinator planting area since early July.

Ash tree (Fraxinus) leaves are very popular, as this little tree reveals.

Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) leaves appear to work well too.

This is the first year we have seen leafcutter work on Heart-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium) leaves.

More Heart-leaved Aster leaves.

Leafcutter bees are working hard in other pollinator habitats too: Leafcutters in the Corner Pollinator Garden

Pollinator signs

This year we have been putting up WPP-PPS signs around pollinator habitats on campus.

This WPP-PPS sign provides information at a planting bed behind the Leblanc residence.

A different WPP-PPS sign graces a shady pollinator patch at the UCU Learning Garden site.

You too can add a sign to your pollinator habitat. Read more here: Signs of the times

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