Be A Friend To Pollinators

from the United States Department of Agriculture


Three-fourths of the world's flowering plants depend on pollinators to reproduceThe honey bee alone contributes to the production of many billions of dollars worth of crops in America every year.

You can provide food and habitat to help them thrive.

Most fruit, vegetable and seed crops (and other plants that provide fiber, medicine and fuel) are pollinated by animals--insects, birds, bats. (Some other animals, such as geckos, inadvertently help with pollination.) Some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of the food gathering practices of bees, butterflies and moths, birds and bats, and beetles and other insects.

Animal Pollination

Foragers visit flowers in the search for food (nectar and pollen). During a flower visit, a forager may accidentally brush against the flower's reproductive parts, unknowingly depositing pollen from a different flower. The plant then uses the pollen to produce a fruit or seed. Many plants cannot reproduce without pollen carried to them by foraging helpers, 

A world without pollinators would be a world without apples, blueberries, strawberries, chocolate, almonds, melons, peaches, or pumpkins.

These pollinating species are in trouble. Bees, bats, and other foraging animals face many challenges in the modern world. Habitat loss, disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants have all contributed to the decline of many of them.

Types of Pollinators

Bees

Bees are the main pollinating agents for fruits and vegetables. There are over 4,000 species of bees native to North America. They nest underground, in twigs and debris, or in dead trees.


Butterflies And Moths

Nectar-seeking butterflies are daytime garden visitors, and moths are their nocturnal counterpart. These popular creatures  pollinate many plants.


Birds and Bats

Hummingbirds are the most common avian pollen carriers in the United States. These tiny wonders prefer tubular flowers in bright, warm colors, especially red. Some larger birds also visit flowers. Two species of bat are major pollen carriers in the Southwest.


Beetles and Other Insects

There are many thousands of beetle species. In fact, 40 percent of all insects are beetles! Flies and other insects are common flower visitors and participate in the process. Midges are small flies. Two species of midge are the only known pollinators of cacao trees, which produce the beans from which chocolate is made. Even mosquitoes can serve as pollen carriers. Only female mosquitoes bite. Both male and female feed mainly on fruit and plant nectar, but the female also needs the protein in blood to help her eggs develop..


You Can Help

Provide food and habitat to help them thrive.

  • Use bird and bee friendly plants in your landscape. Shrubs and trees such as dogwood, blueberry, cherry, plum, willow, and poplar provide pollen or nectar, or both, early in spring when food is scarce.
  • Choose a mixture of plants for spring, summer, and fall. Different flower colors, shapes, and scents will attract a wide variety of pollinators.
  • Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. If you use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly. 
  • Accept some plant damage on plants meant to provide habitat for butterfly and moth larvae.
  • Provide clean water with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half submerged stones for perches.
  • Leave dead tree trunks in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
  • Support land conservation in your community by helping to create and maintain community gardens and green spaces to ensure that they have appropriate habitat.


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