Pollinator Awareness Week is June 18-24, 2018
When most of us think about pollinators, we think of bees and butterflies. Pollinators come in many more shapes and sizes including bats, hummingbirds, beetles, and flies; all helping to pollinate over 75% of the world’s flowering plants and over 75% of our crops. Without the assistance of pollinators most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds. Unfortunately, in recent years the decline of some of these pollinators has been on a noticeable decline, whether it be from habitat loss and degradation, parasites and pathogens, or from the use of certain pesticides. However, there are several simple ways you can help them from your own home:
Plant a pollinator garden:
Choose plants of various colors and shapes to attract different pollinators that also flower at different times, providing nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season.
Choose native plants whenever possible.They will attract native pollinators and serve as larval host plants for some species.For example, if monarch butterflies are in your area, consider planting milkweed as it serves as a food source for the caterpillar.
Provide nesting sites:
Hummingbirds typically nest in trees and shrubs and use plant materials, mosses, and lichens.
Most bees nest in the ground, wood, or dry plant stems. Simply maintaining a small, undisturbed, well-drained, and sparsely vegetated patch of ground can provide habitat for ground-nesting bees. Also be sure that the site faces to the south, to ensure that it receives the most sun possible during the day.
Carpenter bees will chew burrows into wood, while other bees use holes that already exist. You might consider (if it’s not a safety hazard) leaving a dead tree or limb undisturbed so it can be utilized as bee habitat. Bee Blocks are blocks of preservative-free wood with drilled holes of different diameters lined with paper straws, cut reeds, or hard paper tubes. These nesting substrates need to be replaced annually to minimize the spread of potential diseases and parasites.
Nests for Native Bees
Avoid or limit the use of pesticides:
Often times, pesticides kill more than just the targeted pest and their residues are able to kill pollinators several days after the pesticide has been applied. They can also kill natural predators of the pest, leading to worse pest problems.
Pest management without pesticides:
Try removing the pest by hand
Encourage native predators (Carolina Mantis, bats) with a diverse garden habitat
Expect and accept a little pest activity
Learn more about integrated pest management
If you MUST use a pesticide:
Always read and follow the instructions carefully
Only use when there is a pest problem, not as a preventative
Use one that is effective for the target pest and the least toxic to non-pest species
Choose one that is not persistent on vegetation
Use the lowest effective application rate
Do not apply when wildflowers are in bloom
Apply in the late afternoon or evening when pollinators are the least active
Use liquid sprays or granules rather than dusts so it doesn’t drift to other plants
Do not spray when it is windy
Avoid using microencapsulated formulations as they can be mistaken as pollen
Notify nearby beekeepers several days before using products that can be harmful to honeybees