Why worry about pollinators? Pollinators fertilize flowers that produce fruit and seeds that many animals need to survive, including ourselves! Recently, with bees in the news due to colony collapse disorder, many are concerned about honeybee decline, and how other pollinators can be supported. Gardeners and land owners can improve conditions for pollinators. When people think of attracting insect pollinators to a garden, usually the first thing that comes to mind is flowers for bees. Yet there is far more to encouraging pollinators than growing a few flowers and there are more pollinators than just honeybees.
So what do we need to understand to support all pollinators?
1. Recognize that a variety of insects assist in pollination, including native bees, and to a lesser extent, moths,butterflies, flies, beetles, wasps and sometimes even ants.
2. That all these insects have four stages of life: egg, pupa, larva and adult, and that all stages of their lifecycle should be supported.
To support all stages of their lifecycles in the garden they need:
- nest and egg-laying sites
- food plants for larvae
- a diversity of plants that bloom in overlapping periods, throughout the growing season, for nectar and pollen feeders.
- shelter to overwinter
- a pesticide-free habitat
For more information on how to make your space more friendly for pollinators, and to learn more about pollination, check the following sites:
In the USA:
- Pollinator Partnership
- Xerces Society
- Fish and Wildlife Service
- USDA Forest Service