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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

Attract Bees, Birds and Butterflies to Your Yard and Keep Mosquitoes Away by Fran Joyce

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Flowering plants are as versatile as they are beautiful.  They add beauty to any landscape and can help attract or repel certain insects or animals.

Certain flowering plants can also help rebuild the bee population which is essential for pollinating our fields, orchards and gardens. It’s estimated that one third of the food we consume relies on pollination by bees and to a lesser extent other insects, birds and bats.  

There are over 20 butterflies and moths listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which could become extinct because loss of their habitat. Planting butterfly host plants and nectar plants can help support the butterfly population and bring these lovely creatures into your yard.

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Twelve species of hummingbirds summer in North America. In fact, hummingbirds only live in the Western Hemisphere. They can be found from southeastern Alaska to southern Chile. Most species live in the tropics. Hummingbirds primarily eat flower nectar, tree sap, insects and pollen. Some species of hummingbirds are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources as vulnerable or threatened on the because of habitat destruction and loss. Adding certain plants to your yard can attract hummingbirds while helping them to thrive.

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Songbirds, like the general bird population, are vulnerable to several threats, but the largest threat to all birds is habitat loss which migratory birds face in two locations. Planting certain plants can help bring songbirds to your yard.

Imagine sitting on your deck mosquito free while bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds flit from one colorful flower to the next. Most of us don’t have the time and space to create a perfect haven, but with some careful planning we can create some colorful areas for these birds and insects to enjoy. Many of these plants are favorites with multiple birds and insects.

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Did you know certain plants can help keep mosquitoes away?

Here is a list of the best mosquito-repelling plants to keep on your deck or porch to help you enjoy bite free evenings of outdoor fun. Touch plants often to emit their scent which repels mosquitoes.

Mosquito repelling plants

Lemon Balm




Citronella scented geranium

Lemon grass



Lemon Thyme

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Plants for Bee friendly gardens


Lavender                                                     Cranesbill

Rhododendrons                                          Aster

White clover                                               English Daisy

Cotton Easter                                            Rosemary

Heather                                                      Mint

Purple Toadflax                                        Oregano

California Lilac                                         Borage

Bachelor’s Buttons                                    Thyme

Lily of the Valley                                       Bellflower  

 Shrubby Veronica                                     Calendula

 Yellow mustard                                         Escallonia  

Forget me nots                                           Sage (Salvia)                     


Plants to attract Butterflies


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Your garden can be any size – from a window box, flower bed or the back of your yard to your whole yard -you decide. Keep in mind that wasps, ants, parasitic flies, birds, snakes, toads, rats, lizards, and dragonflies eat butterflies. Frogs and spiders eat butterfly eggs. Caterpillars and adult butterflies. In some parts of Mexico, Africa and Southeast Asia butterflies are served to humans as appetizers or desserts.  Some information taken from 

The female butterfly lays her eggs on plants her caterpillars can use as food because tiny caterpillars can’t travel far to reach their own food. Be prepared – these plants will be chewed on, so most gardeners plant them toward the back of the space, but still near the nectar plants, so the chewed up leaves are less noticeable. Different varieties of butterflies prefer certain plants. If you are trying to attract a certain variety or a mix of butterflies, the additional information on the site will be very important for you,

Host plants:                         Nectar plants:

Clover                            Butterfly bush          Lantana

Deer weed                     Dandelions                Verbena   

Sweet fennel                  Garlic                         Daylilies

Dill                                 Black eyed Susan      Sedum

Parsley                           Milkweed                   Chives

Carrot                            Daisy                          Radishes

Snapdragons                 Heliotrope                  Catnip

Cabbage                        Ground Ivy                Marigold

Mustard plants             Shasta Daisy             Liatris

Hollyhocks                    Goldenrod                 Aster         

Delphinium                   Roses                         Oregano

Sunflowers                     Oriental lilies            Pansies

Milkweed                       Petunia                      Nettles

Zinnia                             Wild Bergamot         Phlox 

California Lilac             Wild licorice              Thistle

Purple Coneflower                       

Plants to attract hummingbirds                                                                              

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Hummingbirds have no sense of smell – they must rely on bright colors to attract them, so use red feeders and plain, clear sugar water w/o red dye – 1 part white sugar mixed with 4 parts water) and songbirds (Include a birdbath and try to use native plants for your region to attract more songbirds to your yard)

Hummingbird                      Songbirds

Bee balms                                  Sunflowers

Columbines                               Coneflower

Daylilies                                    Cornflower

Lupines                                     Black-eyed Susan

Foxgloves                                  Daisy

Hollyhocks                               Aster

Impatiens                                 Marigold

Petunias                                   Virginia Creeper

Cardinal flower                        Elderberry

Zinnia                                       Staghorn Sumac

Salvia                                       Butterfly Bush                  

Bleeding Hearts                      Trumpet Creeper

Pittsburgh is considered zone 6b (

Frost dates for Pittsburgh: spring May 26 and fall September 20

Growers tend to begin planting after May 15 and end around October 15











Spring Reading for Children by Fran Joyce

Pets and Flowers by Fran Joyce