A Walk in the Woods, Wisconsin Nature

Butterflies, Bees, & Wild Bergamot

A favorite native wildflower of mine is in bloom all over the Center! Pretty much any trail you follow at Schlitz Audubon, you will come across a patch of this beautiful plant. It’s known by many names–Wild Bergamot, Bee Balm, or Monarda fistulosa. Bee Balm, as one of its common name implies, attracts native bees. While on my walk in the woods, I stood by two different patches of Bee Balm for maybe 10-20 minutes each, and observed SO MANY different species either landing on or collecting nectar from the eccentric flower head. Tiny bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, and even a Ruby-throated Hummingbird were spotted.

American Goldfinch, Spinus tristus, landing in a Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa patch.


Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta on Wild Bergamot.


Silver-spotted Skipper, Epargyreus clarus.


A Monarch landing on Wild Bergamot. Milkweed plants are impertive for Monarchs, but they also enjoy other native plants.

While it would have been easy to end my hike after observing all of the variety in the bergamot patches, there is so much more blooming at the Center that I wanted to capture!

Monarch Butterfly landing on Butterfly Weed, in a prairie with Purple Coneflowers, Black-eyed Susans, and of course some Bee Balm.


Monarch egg on the left, Monarch caterpillar on the right, both on Common Milkweed.

Close up of a flower of a Common Milkweed plant.

An unknown caterpillar on a Common Milkweed leaf.

Common Buckeye that landed on a segment of our recently extended Gateway Trail.


A Hoverfly landing on a Black-eyed Susan Rudibeckia hirta. 


You can read more about incorporating plants like Bee Balm into your own yard. Or just plan a summer visit to the Center to experience the beauty of native plants blooming and see the ecosystems they are a part of.