This time of year you may see bees around your garden or hummingbirds hovering around your flowers. We want to call your attention to those creatures that help nature bring fruits and vegetables to your table. More importantly, we want to spread the word that bees, birds, beetles, butterflies and bats are in need of protection and conservation. Join the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as we celebrates National Pollinator Week – June 17-June 23, 2013.
What is so important about Pollinators? Pollinators are crucial to flowering plant reproduction and the production of most fruits and vegetables. These insects and animals travel from plant to plant, carry pollen on their bodies that is essential for the transfer of genetic material needed to reproduce most flowering plants. They visit flowers to drink nectar or feed off of pollen and transport pollen grains as they move from spot to spot. Bees, flies, butterflies, bats, birds and even some less romantic critters like slugs, wasps and beetles are essential for a healthy ecosystem and are sometimes an indicator if something is not right.
Pollinators are disappearing at an alarming rate world-wide. All food crops rely – directly or indirectly – upon these tiny creatures, who work tirelessly behind the scenes to complete their life cycles in tandem with the reproductive process of our planet’s flora. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our partners are working hard to protect pollinators and the plants that depend on them by protecting habitat and sharing information on how you may create a pollinator friendly garden.
Ordinary people can make a big difference in protecting and attracting pollinators by doing easy simple things. First and most important, avoid the use of pesticides in your home garden. That’s a big one. If you want to rid your yard of bugs and minimize the undesirable insects, choose plants that are not prone to insects and keep your plants healthy so they are less susceptible to infestation. And BIRDS, birds love bugs, so try to attract wild insect eating birds you your yard, but remember to keep domestic cats indoors (the birds will feel comfortable in your yard if they don’t have to be on the lookout for Fluffy.
Another way to help preserve bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects is to provide food for them. Start a pollinator garden by planting flowers that are both beautiful and provide nectar and pollen for bees native to the Pacific Northwest. For information about choosing native flowers contact your local nursery or find written material like “Attracting Native Pollinators”, by Xerces Society.
Create a pollinator habitat - Food is always important but so is nesting and breeding habitat. Some pollinators don’t live in big hives or colonies but dig holes in the ground. These creatures usually burrow in soil banks, brush piles or in holes drilled in wood by other insects. If you have the room, leave some chunky old wood lying around and some soil banks.
Help us spread the word about the importance of pollinators. Tell other people about this important link in the ecosystem chain and support farmers and beekeepers by buying local honey and locally produced organic foods.
Check out the new resources developed to help people find regionally-appropriate lists of pollinators and the plants that they feed upon.
Links to information and partners.