What are pollinators?
Bees, butterflies, birds, bats, moths, flies, wasps, and other small animals that help plants reproduce are considered pollinators.
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Why are they important?
Pollination is the first step in plant reproduction. All life on Earth depends on successful pollination to provide food, shelter, and oxygen. Pollination occurs when pollen grains from the male germ cell of the plant reach the female part, or stigma, of the plant. Ninety (90) percent of all flowering plants require pollination.
Pollinators such as bees, birds, bats, and butterflies are crucial in the process of pollination. While in search of nectar, the pollinators rub against the flower parts and transfer pollen. This allows a tiny pollen grain to travel down the stigma and fertilize the egg to form a seed.
There are many different types of pollinator species and they can each carry pollen in different ways. These animals create partnerships with plants to carry out the life-sustaining needs of both groups. Many plants use various techniques to attract pollinators. Some flower petals even have lines or markings that guide the pollinators to the nectar.
Declining populations: what’s the problem?
Populations of pollinators, especially bees, are in decline due to several compounding factors. Habitat loss for pollinators by human activity poses the biggest threat to pollinators in North America. Invasive plant species, broad-spectrum pesticide use, disease, and weather also factor into population loss.
The decrease in the pollinator population may not be something that the general population is aware of or concerned about, but the effects of this decrease can impact food production of many domestic food crops. The decrease in wild populations of bees, butterflies and moths can affect the production of fruit, vegetables, nuts, alfalfa, and flowers.
Pollinator’s in a Rain Garden at Homegrown Hideaways
Pollinator gardens and habitats: how to help pollinators
How to help pollinators:
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- Grow native perennials, especially nectar producing plants.
- Grow bee friendly shrubs and trees
- Install houses for bats.
- Reduce herbicide and pesticide use.
- Replace your lawn with flower beds.
- Plan your garden. Plant flowers that bloom at different times throughout the growing season.
- Pollinators are attracted to swaths of color, so plant perennials in bunches.