What's a pollinator?
A pollinator is a wildlife species that visits flowering plants to feed on their nectar, and in the process, transfers pollen from one blossom to another, pollinating the plant. Pollination fertilizes the plant, allowing them to form seeds to reproduce, as well as form the berries, fruits and nuts that feed both wildlife and people.
There are many different types of pollinators in North America, from fruit bats to beetles. Some Minnesota pollinators include the beautiful monarch butterfly, bees (Minnesota has about 400 native species of bees alone), birds and moths. All play a critical role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
Without these pollinators, fruit-bearing plants would not be able to create food for the critters in their ecosystem. (That includes us!) Pollination is necessary in the production of almost 75% of our crops and nearly 90% of the world's flowering plant species, so their decline disrupts ecosystems and creates hardships for plant, animal and human life.
What you can do
Thankfully, there are many ways we can all improve pollinator habitat.
- Avoid or diminish pesticide use in your yard to protect insects and pollinators.
- Limit use of outdoor lights.
- Don't purchase plants that have been treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and urge nurseries not to carry them.
- If you want a project you can do in your own yard, consider planting native species. Pollinators are drawn to patch-like gardens that serve as a much-needed oasis, especially in urban and residential neighborhoods where resources can be scarce.
- Already have a pollinator-friendly yard or garden? Consider logging your success story or monitoring monarchs and reporting your findings to the Monarch Joint Venture.
- Volunteer with FMR: A public volunteer event lasts just about two hours, and makes a big impact on improving habitat. Volunteers do everything from planting pollinator-friendly patch gardens to removing harmful invasive plants.
• Monarch Joint Venture's webpage: Create habitat for monarchs
• Minnesota Department of Natural Resources webpage: Minnesota's pollinators
• University of Minnesota Extension's webpage: How to create a pollinator-friendly landscape
• Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources pollinator planting toolbox
• Xerces Society's webpage: Pollinator conservation in yards and gardens