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You May Call Them Weeds, But Insects Call Them Food

Dandelion flower
Benjamin D. Esham, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson extension and Making It Grow. Extension Agent Vicky Bertagnolli always brings show and tell from her Aiken county home – and usually it’s weeds! Vicky is a busy gal, working in two counties, and doesn’t have a lot of time for keeping a tidy yard. Plus, as a lover of insects, she knows that many plants that are considered weeds have great value for our invertebrate friends. Henbit, with its purple, tubular flowers, is covered with blossoms in January and February and on a warm day, you’ll often spy a carpenter bee visiting those plants collecting nectar. Another often maligned “lawn invader” is the dandelion – which blooms every month of the year in South Carolina. It, too, serves as an early place for pollinators to find a winter meal on those warm days when they are out foraging. Maybe it’s time to let your lawn become a tapestry – the insects will thank you.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.