The Beauty of Pollinators

I am not super crazy about insects, but I do appreciate their purpose, especially the pollinators, of which there are about 70 different species.

Without pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and wasps, we would not have most crops or the food we glean from them.

(Photo by Gloria)

Even bats and birds help with the critical pollination of plants because as they visit flowers and feed on nectar, they get pollen on themselves and distribute it on other plants they visit.

The movement of pollen from a flower’s male stamen to its female stigma — or that of the next flower — fertilizes plants and produces fruits and seeds.

Sadly, people have noticed there has been a drop in the last 25 years or so in many species of pollinators, especially bees. What are some potential reasons?

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are fewer places to feed and breed. Pollinator habitat is shrinking. As roads and developments have replaced meadows and wildlands, pollinators have lost feeding and nesting sites. Remaining patches of prairie and meadow have become more disconnected. That makes it harder for pollinators to reach new breeding sites or find better habitat.

Another reason is that imported species of plants and diseases are affecting native ones and reducing food and shelter for pollinators. Disease-causing organisms — including viruses, fungi and bacteria — can spread from non-native to native pollinators. Other stressors, such as poor nutrition and pesticide exposure, may intensify the effect of diseases.

Pesticides are another factor. Disease-causing organisms — including viruses, fungi and bacteria — can spread from non-native to native pollinators. Other stressors, such as poor nutrition and pesticide exposure, may intensify the effect of diseases.

(Photo by Gloria)

Finally, while climate change is being blamed for just about every kind of current problem in society these days, it seems to be another obvious factor. Climate and weather that is modified via human-generated pollution or scientific and military solar geoengineering directly impacts plants, animals and people.

Earlier this year, news media reported that Bill Gates’ controversial sun-blocking experiment has been postponed until next year. I am not sure that makes me feel better.

(Photo by Maria Weg)

Flowers are blooming earlier as temperatures warm, causing some pollinators to miss the opportunity to feed. Also, some insects feed only on specific plants. If these blooms die before insects arrive, the insects go hungry and fewer plants get pollinated.

Rising temperatures may be contributing to a decline in bumblebees. Numbers of North American bumblebees have fallen nearly 50 percent since 1974, with the biggest losses in places where temperatures have risen the highest.

Other climate change effects, such as increased flooding, more fires and the spread of invasive species, threaten native habitats. This may directly affect pollinators if the host plant that a pollinator needs to survive is overtaken by another plant species.

So, what can we little people do? Not one of us has the money or power of a global corporation, military force or a bored billionaire, but we can start small and impact our local environment.

Plant a pollinator garden to attract native species. To attract a variety of pollinators, include a selection of plants native to your region. Native milkweed is vital for monarch butterflies to grow, develop and reproduce.

(Photo by Gloria)

Check field guides to find out which plants local caterpillars eat. Find pollinator-friendly plants for your area. Contact your local or state native plant society for help. Your local agricultural extension service is also a good resource.

Another form of action is to avoid (or at least severely limit) your use of pesticides. For example, instead of spraying toxic stuff to get rid of weeds, grab a pair of garden gloves and pull the weeds out by hand and get your kids involved too.

Yes, weeding is hard work and will take longer, but it is good exercise and brings you more in tune with Mother Nature as you smell the vegetation, dirt and fresh air and realize no living thing was harmed through this method.

Buy plants that have not been treated with pesticides and purchase only organic seeds or plants and cultivate a safe and healthy garden retreat for yourself and pollinators.

So, the next time you see a bee or even a wasp, thank it for doing its job. And the next time you see a critter on your organic produce, gently remove it outside and thank it for confirming to you that your food is safe and healthy.

Send me pics of your pets enjoying veggies. I am still working on expanding my beagle's taste buds. Apparently, she does not like broccoli either.

(Photo by Gloria)

However, my pippet ensures nothing goes to waste.

(Photo by Gloria)

Enjoy your upcoming week everyone.

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