Eco-System Savers = Pollinators!


Summer is in full swing, the days are longer, the temperatures are rising, and the bugs are out!  But not all bugs are bad, pollinators are necessary for the survival of many crops, native forbs, grasses, and trees.  There is a unique relationship between pollinating insects and many native plant species which drives ecosystem function.  The mutual relationship of many pollinators and native plants may be at risk due to declining pollinator populations and competition from non-native plant species.

So what is pollination and why is it so important?  Pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from within flowers or between flowers by a pollinating animal such as bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, birds, bats, and others or via the wind.  The transfer of pollen leads to fertilization and in turn seed and fruit production.  Pollinators, the animals which pollinate flowers, are required for the success of many of the food, beverages, fiber, spices, and medicines we depend upon.  Pollinators and consequently our livelihood is threatened by the decline of pollinator habitat, chemical misuse, non-native plants and animals, disease, and parasites.

The good news is that each and every one of us can do our part to promote pollination and protect pollinators!  We can plant species, particularly natives, to attract, house, and promote pollinators, especially those plant species that provide nectar and larval food.  We can practice integrated pest management.  Integrated pest management is a method in which we take into account all factors while minimizing the risks to people and the environment.  Here we will take into account the active ingredient of the chemical, the method of application, the timing of the application, the weather conditions, target species and non-target species, and more.  All of these factors will help us in determining the best method for control of undesirable species.

We can also monitor our local pollinators, especially in our own backyards.  Although scientific counts are preferred, simple observations are also effective.

So the next time you see a bee, butterfly, hummingbird or other pollinator, take a moment to observe them and appreciate all that they do for us!