The Importance of Pollinators
Plants have a variety of ways of spreading their seeds out into the world and increasing their chances for survival. Some use the wind, some stick to animals that then carry the seeds elsewhere, and some rely on pollinators to ensure that their offspring will thrive. But who are the pollinators, and what exactly do they do? Bees and butterflies are two examples of pollinators who help plants reproduce by landing in the flower, collecting the pollen on their bodies, and moving it to another part of the plant which fertilizes it. This is a vital part of our ecosystem. Without pollinators, many species of plants would die out, causing a chain reaction of all kinds of species to go extinct.
According to the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEEF), about 75% of all plants, including those in our yards, gardens, and parks, depend on pollinators. However, many of them are endangered species. Monarchs are one example of a species facing many environmental threats. Global warming and pesticide use has led to a decrease in available habitat for the butterflies, and as their numbers dwindle, they are able to pollinate less and less flowers. To help, plant milkweed in your backyard – it is the sole source of food for the caterpillars and the more milkweed planted, the easier it will be for monarchs to thrive again. For more information on what you can do in your own backyard to help pollinator species thrive, visit this NEEF blog post about pollinators: https://www.neefusa.org/nature/land/protecting-pollinators
What Nature At The Confluence is doing to help pollinators
Nature At the Confluence Pollinator Garden & Prairie – We have planted a Pollinator Garden at the Nature Learning Center to educate the public about the importance of supporting pollinators. In addition to flowering plants that bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love, we’ve planted over 40 milkweed plants. Milkweeds are the only food source for Monarch caterpillars and where their eggs are laid. In addition, we have started a 5-acre prairie, which will also support pollinators.
“Importance of Pollinators” program to be held September 6 – In this free program you’ll learn all about hummingbirds, butterflies and bees and how to help them and how to attract them to your yard and garden. Our presenters for this program are Larry and Emily Scheunemann, who have a 30-acre farm in Whitewater that focuses on hummingbirds and monarchs. Learn more.
Hatched 5 Monarch butterflies in our Monarch habitat – We raised 5 caterpillars and took their rearing habitat to the South Beloit Library so more people could see their magical transformation into butterflies. The butterflies have been released during story hours, so kids have a chance to learn about them.
- NEEF – National Environmental Education & Training Foundation: https://www.neefusa.org/
- National Wildlife Foundation (Monarch info): http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Invertebrates/Monarch-Butterfly.aspx