Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Garden, Pollinators.....

Honey Bee enjoying a Lantana Flower
I read this fabulous article (July 4th) in the Sunday section of the Chicago Tribune.  I've known for awhile that our precious pollinators were in jeopardy.  I see many, many different bees and insects in our garden. 
I thought I'd share some information on the subject with you today..

Do you realize how incredibly important pollinators are?  Most of us know that they were important for flowers, but what about food?  In the 1996 book The Forgotten Pollinators, Buchmann and Nabhan estimate that animal pollinators are needed for the reproduction of 90% of flowering plants and one third of human food crops..... Holy Geeze!  I did NOT know that!  I collected much of the information below from  The pictures are from my garden.

Here is a list of pollinators:

Bees-pollinate a wide range of crops including alfalfa, melons, soybeans, and tomatoes.  There are nearly 4,000 species of native ground and twig nesting bees in the U.S.    Some form colonies while others live and work alone.  It is essential that they have the following to survive:  nesting habitat, nectar, pollen, and water.  Different bees have varied tongue lengths that determine which flowers they can obtain nectar and pollen from.

Butterflies-they are mainly attracted to flowers that have a good landing platform.  They get essential minerals from moist or muddy soil.  They also love rotting fruit.

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch and Swollowtail Butterflies on cone flowers

Moths-they differ significantly from the butterfly.  Their bodies are more stout and they are quite hairy.  They are active at night and attracted to  sweet smelling flowers that open later afternoon or night. 

Beetles-they aren't as exciting to watch as butterflies or hummingbirds and most people do not try to attract them to their gardens.  They are often found on flower heads and sometimes can damage flowers, yet they do play a role in pollination.  Flowers they are most known to pollinate are Magnolia, sweet shrub, paw paws, and yellow pond lilies.

Flies-um, ewe!   No one wants to attract flies for goodness sakes, but they do play a part in pollinating small flowers in most habitats.  Plants pollinated by the fly include the American paw paw, dead horse arum, skunk cabbage, goldenrod and Queen Anne's Lace.

Birds-well, you know how much I love hummingbirds.  They would be the primary bird that play a roll in pollination in North America.  Their long beaks and tongues draw nectar  from tubular flowers.  Hummingbirds can see the color red, bees can't.  I plant plenty of red in my garden every spring and we've painted our Adirondack chairs red.  Check out how to plant your very own hummingbird garden.
Please do not kill bees.  Get to know the different species of bees.  Most bees are not interested in stinging you.  If you encounter a nest of aggressive bees, do not break out the can of Raid!   They are not insects to mess around with or tease.  Call an expert. 

Have a wonderful day!  Angie

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