Written By: Ashley Goldbeck
Ahhh, harvest season. This is the time of year where we sit back and enjoy some of our favorite foods grown from the ground.
It’s hard to imagine a world without tasty, hardy and nutritious fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. A lot harder than it is to imagine a world without insects, right?
What most people don’t understand is that ¾’s of the world's flowering plants depend on pollinators in order to reproduce. We’re not just talking about fruits, veggies, and seed crops. We’re talking medicinal, too! Half the food we eat and medicine we consume ultimately exists because of animal pollination from bees, butterflies, bats, moths, birds, beetles and more!
How Does Pollination work?
Pollinators buzz, flitter, and fly from flower to flower searching for nectar and pollen to eat. During their adventure from plant to plant they brush against the reproductive part of the plant and deposit pollen from other plants they had visited earlier. The plant uses this pollen to produce a seed or fruit, which then grows into the fruit, veggie or medicine we ingest. Most plants require this process in order to reproduce. Without pollination, they cannot survive. What would that mean for us? Think; no more apples, berries, chocolate, almonds, melons, peaches, pumpkins and more.
Who are these important pollinators?
Bees, of course!
Bees are the main pollinators of fruits and veggies. There are more then 4,000 types of native bees in the US.
Butterflies and Moths
Butterflies seek nectar during the day pollinating many plants as they go, while moths take over for them during the night, working their way from plant to plant and spreading the love.
Birds and Bats
The hummingbird, one of the smallest birds in the world, is responsible for the majority of avian pollination. But they are not alone, many prairie, and backyard birds help with the transferring of pollen. Like moths, bats are a birds’ nocturnal counterpart, continuing the pollination process throughout the night.
Beetles and more!
There are thousands upon thousands of beetles out there pollinating our plants. In fact 40% of insects worldwide are beetles. Other insects like flies, midges, ants, etc. also make up an important population of pollinators.
Trouble in Paradise
Although it might not seem like there is a shortage of pollinators while you swat at flies on your patio at night, there is trouble in pollinator paradise..
Butterflies, Bees, bats, and other pollinators face environmental and man-made contaminates, habitat loss, disease, parasites and more, all of which have contributed to a significant decline in many pollinator species.
Protect Your Pollinator Friends
There are many ways you can help. Provide food, habitat, and shelter for pollinators just like you would for other beloved animals.
Make a bee nesting house in your backyard
Plant pollinator friendly plants in your yard
Plant a seasonal variety of pollinator friendly plants so you have food sources for pollinators during spring, summer and fall
Avoid using pesticides on your plants, or use them sparingly, this has a huge impact on pollinators
Provide water stations for all size pollinators
Leave dead tree trunks or brush piles on your property to provide shelter for bees and beetles
Make it a family adventure!
Visit the park where we have several pollinator friendly landscapes and discover some of these amazing pollinators at work! Make it fun and competitive by playing the pollinator scavenger hunt below. As always, share with us what you see while out exploring. And be sure to share the importance of all these species with friends and family. Happy hunting!