Pollinators need our help
Worldwide there is disturbing evidence that pollinating animals have suffered from loss of habitat, chemical misuse, introduced and invasive plant and animal species, and diseases and parasites. Many pollinators are federally “listed species,” meaning that there is evidence of their disappearance in natural areas. Our very own Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis) was placed on the Endangered Species list in 2017. https://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/insects/rpbb/index.html The Monarch Butterfly whose migration path runs through Illinois has decreased by 80%, and nationwide honey bees have declined by 90%.
- Lack of food sources – Plant pollen and nectar producing plants, especially native plants that bloom from early spring to late fall. Think big and select plants with successive blooms in mind.
- Insecticides - Neonicotinoid insecticides are systemic chemicals and they are toxic to bees and many other beneficial insects. Neonicotinoids are absorbed by the plant and dispersed through plant tissues, including pollen and nectar. Imidacloprid and clothianidin, common ingredients in garden insecticides, can linger in the plants, shrubs, trees, and soil for months or even years, from where they can be picked up by the next season’s plants. Bees and other pollinators are exposed to neonicotinoids in many ways, including contact with spray residue on plants or by eating contaminated and toxic pollen or nectar. When exposed to very small amounts of neonicotinoids, bumble bee colonies grow more slowly and produce fewer new queens, which impacts overall bumble bee populations. Honey bees are also affected by low doses; exposure can impair their ability to fly, navigate, and forage for food.
- Avoid using neonicotinoids in your garden or yard. Read labels to determine whether a product contains neonicotinoids; look out for imidacloprid, acetamiprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam.
When purchasing plants, ask nursery or garden center staff if the plants were treated with neonicotinoids.
Types of pollinators
Pollinators and what they do
Pollinators provide essential ecological services that benefit humans, plants, and animals. Worldwide, roughly 1,000 of the 1,200 plant species grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by pollinators in order to produce the goods on which people and wildlife depend. Pollinators bring us nearly 1 of every 3 bites of food we eat.
Foods and beverages produced with the help of pollinators include: apples, blueberries, oranges, squash, tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, melons, peaches, pumpkins, vanilla, and almonds, to name a few.
· In the U.S., pollination by honey bees, native bees, and other insects produces $40 billion worth of products annually.
· Pollinators help regulate climate and control erosion by sustaining vegetation.
· Pollinators enhance landscape aesthetics and recreational opportunities that draw tourists and park visitors.
Crops that are dependent on pollinators:
Honey bees, Blue Orchard bees
Honey bees, bumble bees, Solitary bees, hover flies
Over 115 native bees including bumble, mason, leafcutter and alfalfa bees
Bees, moths, fruit bats
Honey bees, bumble bees, Solitary bees and flies
Insects and fruit bats
Honey bees, bumble bees, Solitary bees
Moths, birds, bees
You can help pollinators too by planting your own pollinator garden and participating in Citizen Science projects
Use native flowering plants:
• Choose a variety of colors and shapes that will attract a variety of pollinators.
• Choose plants that flower at different times providing nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season.
• Plant in clumps rather than single plants to better attract pollinators.
• Reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides, and if you must use them, follow directions carefully. The way you apply and dispose of a pesticide can make a big difference for pollinators.
• Educate yourself about the native pollinators in your area and view them as your ally in making a green and sustainable world.
Join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Get involved with the science:
Citizen science is the public involvement in inquiry and discovery of new scientific knowledge. A citizen science project can involve one person or millions of people collaborating towards a common goal. Typically, public involvement is in data collection, analysis, or reporting. See the list of free citizen science project links below under resources.
Pollinator & Native gardens in Aurora
Three raised bed pollinator gardens on Water Street Mall
Downtown rain gardens
Phillips Park Zoo
Phillips Park Golf Course
These gardens are free of pesticides and provide a variety of native plants that offer the life saving benefits that all pollinators need for survival. Please visit these gardens and the other native and pollinator gardens throughout Aurora to observe their beauty and the lives dependent on them. We encourage you to plant your own native and pollinator gardens at home, school, and businesses. With your gardens contribution, the City of Aurora will become a safe haven for all pollinators.
Healthy habitats are the key to pollinator survival.
- Pollinator Protection Pledge (Xerces Society)
- Monarch Watch--education outreach, butterfly tagging and waystation program; to purchase a monarch waystation seed kit, go to shop.monarchwatch.org.
- National Pesticide Information Center
- Univ of Illinois Extension - Providing a Place for Pollinators (University of Illinois)
- Selecting Plants for Pollinators (Pollinator.org)
· Citizen ScienceProjects (Free)
2018 Pollinator poster-Pollinators and Seeds. Click here to download.