Pollinators in the Garden

You may think that the bees, wasps, flies, and beetles in your garden are a nuisance, but you would do well to allow them access to your plants if you want flowers and food. These insects pollinate your plants and transfer pollen from one bloom to another. Without them, there would be no flowers and no fruit or vegetables would grow from their blooms.

 Crops Need to be Pollinated

Some vertebrates such as birds and bats, and small mammals also pollinate plants and wind and water play their parts, too. The presence of pollinators in any area where crops are grown, including grains, vegetables, and fruit, is critical to the successful development of those crops. Approximately 75 percent of crop plants grown worldwide for food, fiber, beverages, condiments, spices and medicines need pollinators to produce their harvest.

 Beneficial to the Ecosystem

In addition to pollinating food crops and flowering plants, pollinators assist plants in providing food and habitat for wildlife, help prevent erosion and help keep waterways clean. The seeds pollinated plants provide are a major source of food for birds and mammals.

 Decline in Pollinator Populations

Many pollinators face decline or extinction because of widespread destruction of their native habitats and food sources. One example is the Monarch butterfly which only lays its eggs on specific and scarce plants such as milkweed. As milkweed is mowed down and eradicated from the landscape, the Monarch has no place to lay its eggs and is in danger of extinction today. Incorrect use of pesticides pose another danger to native pollinators.

 We Can Help

How can we help preserve the pollinators? Grow flowers in masses rather than a few here and there. Control invasive plant species so habitats aren’t taken over by them. Use pesticides, when necessary, on calm days and spray carefully. Plant vegetation that provides habitat. Plant flowers that pollinators are attracted to and provide a source of water.