Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Buzzing Along: It's Pollinator Week

If you knew that, statistically, every third bite of food you take is due to a pollinator's activities, AND that pollinator populations are declining, would you pay attention?

And, if you knew that some plant species are dependent on one particular pollinator for pollination, that the world's supply of chocolate, for example, depends on a tiny fly that is solely responsible for the fertilization of chocolate's blooms, would you think twice about harming that fly? Without the fly, no chocolate!

You probably do know that monarch butterflies must have milkweed in order to lay their eggs. But do you know that herbicides have drastically reduced milkweed populations that used to naturally occur along roadsides and in agricultural fields? As milkweed has declined, so have monarch populations. No milkweed, no monarch butterflies!

There are many examples such as these, and certainly many more important plant-animal interactions we aren't even aware of yet.

Pollinator week was established to promote awareness of this critical importance of insects, birds, bats and other pollen- and nectar-loving creatures to our ecosystem, and to encourage activities that will help keep them thriving. Here are a few tips:
  • Plant flowering plants that are native to your area. Native plants attract and provide for native wildlife. This makes everyone happy!
  • Plant fragrant, colorful plants with varied blooming times. Heirlooms are especially good. 
  • Gradually replace lawn grass with flower beds or flowering shrubs. 
  • Provide habitat for nesting and egg-laying such as shrubs and tall grasses.
  • Provide a water source. A shallow dish that you can empty and refill each day (to avoid encouraging mosquitos) is good.
  • AVOID PESTICIDES! Even Bt will kill caterpillars of all kinds, not just the ones you want to reduce (such as canker worm). 

There is lots of excellent information at these websites:
North Carolina Native Plant Society


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