Pollinators are very important to the environment. They are just as important as sunlight, soil, and water as they create the reproductive success of over 75% of the world’s flowering plants. Pollinators are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food!
Sometimes we just think of bees as the main pollinator, but there are many other types of pollinators that visit flowering plants too. In fact there are over 100,000 different animal species that help with pollination. Insects are the most common, but there are many vertebrates too. Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals are attracted to nectar producing plants and in turn help with the pollination process. These important pollinators take pollen grains from the flower’s anther or male parts and move them to the stigma or the female part of the same type of flower. Once the pollen grain is on the stigma it goes to the ovary where fertilization happens, making seeds. Many flowering plants depend on pollinators to help with the transfer of pollen from one plant to another. There are some plants that utilize wind or water to help with the pollination process.
It is important that we take care of pollinators. There are many that have declining populations. Monarch butterflies are a perfect example of this. Monarchs are a great pollinator, but when we started to see a loss of milkweed plants, which is where they lay their eggs and the diet of the monarch caterpillar, we started to see a decline in monarch butterflies. Many times we see declining pollinator populations due to urbanization, habitat loss, pesticide usage, disease, and changes in climate patterns. We can help slow this decline by creating spaces that are awesome pollinator havens!
Here are some steps you can take to create a pollinator haven:
- Plant a garden that uses native flowering plants. Create a garden that has a variety of colors, shapes, and that will flower at different times throughout the growing season. Click here for a great guide to help you create a native flowering garden.
- Provide a habitat that is great for nesting pollinators or egg-laying pollinators. Plant milkweed to attract monarchs, trees or shrubs are great spaces for hummingbirds to make their nests, providing a bee nesting block for solitary bees (not your honey bee), or putting up bat houses is a great way to start creating a great habitat for pollinators. Interested in creating a bee hotel, click here for directions. How about a bat house, click here for directions.
- Avoid or limit the use of pesticides. You may have to learn to expect some pest activity in your pollinator garden! To learn more about how you can use integrated pest management in your yard or garden click here.