Do you keep hearing about pollinators but not completely sure what they are or what it is they do?
If butterflies and hummingbirds..(to name a few) make you smile then you are going to want to keep reading.
WHAT IS A POLLINATOR EXACTLY?
A pollinator by definition is any living thing from a tiny sweat bee to a bear (a bit of a stretch but true) that helps to pollinate flowers (we are only going to focus on the little guys.) It is the transfer of pollen within the same flower or to a different flower.
The flowers that are pollinated could belong to a tree (for instance fruit trees or ornamentals like dogwoods), crops (what we eat), to….let’s not forget our beautiful flower gardens (like our native wildflowers, perennials, and annuals.)
Here is a more exact definition by NPS “The National Parks Service”: A Pollinator is anything that helps carry pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part (stigma). The movement of pollen must occur for the plant to become fertilized and produce fruits, seeds, and young plants.
The pollinator you may be most familiar with is probably the honey bee, and while they do an amazing job, there are so many more…like our fascinating Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and numerous native bees (….to me the work-horses of pollination). Check out this post for more info on Native Bees, 4 WAYS YOU CAN HELP NATIVE BEES.
As stated by the “National Wildlife Federation” NWF; “Over 100,00 invertebrates – including bees, butterflies, beetles, moths, wasps, and flies-and more than a thousand mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians take on the job of pollinating plants. This biodiverse group of wildlife buzzes, flutters, and creeps from plant to plant, dining on protein-rich pollen and high-energy nectar. As they move they transport and deposit pollen, fertilizing plants and allowing those plants to reproduce.”
I know it may seem strange that spiders could be pollinators but this is one way they do it….as in the picture above. Spiders pollinate by accident while they are crawling around on a flower hunting or simply looking for shelter. I was excited to get this picture. I’m pretty sure its meal is a type of sweat bee.
WHY ARE POLLINATORS SO IMPORTANT?
Where do I start…..Food, yes the food on your table and in your fridge is there, thanks to all the busy, hard-working pollinators that don’t really get the credit they are due.
I think this one is well worth a statistic or two….Here is what the U.S. Forest Service says: “Of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world, namely those that produce all of our food and plant-based industrial products, almost 80% require pollination by animals”.
I don’t know about you but that to me is a pretty significant number and deserving of our attention.
The importance doesn’t stop there, pollinators also keep our plants alive and in doing so allow them to help reduce carbon dioxide.
The “National Parks Service”, says it well here. “Healthy ecosystems depend on pollinators. At least 75% of all flowering plants on earth are pollinated by insects and animals! This amounts to more than 1,200 food crops, and 180,000 different types of plants-plants which help stabilize our soils, clean our air, supply oxygen, and support wildlife”.
Now that you know a little bit more about pollinators and know who to look out for…..here are 2 simple steps you can take that would have a positive impact on them and the environment…. stop using chemicals and plant native wildflowers.
Pretty simple isn’t it!
So, get out there in your yard and share it!
Happy Sharing and Enjoy!