Over 75% of the world’s plants depend upon pollinators to reproduce. The majority of those pollinators are insects, although birds and bats help pollinate as well. These insects, birds, and animals provide valuable ecosystem services.
Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species, or within a single flower, by wind or animals that are pollinators. Successful pollination, which may require visits by multiple pollinators to a single flower, results in healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing plants to reproduce. Pollinators deliver one out of every three mouthfuls of food we eat. Without pollinators, we simply wouldn’t have many crops!
Today there is a crisis in the pollinator population. You may have heard news reports about honeybees that are dying at an alarming rate. Many companies who depend upon pollination for their products are trying to help. For example–Honey Nut Cheerios provided free pollinator seeds this year. Yet the pollinator population overall is suffering.
National Pollinator Week is a time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to help.
What you can do for pollinators:
Design your garden so that there is a continuous succession of plants flowering from spring through fall.
Select old-fashioned varieties of flowers whenever possible because breeding has caused some modern blooms to lose their fragrance and/or the nectar/pollen needed to attract and feed pollinators.
Avoid pesticides. If you must use them, use the most selective and least toxic ones and apply them at night when most pollinators aren’t active.
Provide water for butterflies without letting it become a mosquito breeding area. Refill containers daily or bury a shallow plant saucer to its rim in a sunny area, fill it with coarse pine bark or stones and fill to overflowing with water.
A tiny fly (a “midge”) no bigger than a pinhead is responsible for the world’s supply of chocolate.
Want to learn more? Check out http://pollinator.org