Want to help pollinators this spring? Expert suggests these tips

(NEXSTAR) — Spring is just around the corner (technically starting March 20th). This means that garden preparation will soon begin. Whether you’re growing your own produce or enhancing your home’s curb appeal, you may need to consider the primary target audience for your garden: local pollinators.

The foods we enjoy every day – fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, even chocolate and coffee – would not be possible without pollinators. We also help support clean water through our work in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Communities. I will explain.

Overall, pollinator jobs are worth $200 billion each year, according to the USDA. That doesn’t take into account the irreplaceable work they do in our backyard garden.

When you think of pollinators, your mind may immediately go to bees: honeybees, bumblebees, wasps, or whatever it is. , wasps and small mammals.

However, bees are not always at the top of the pollinator pyramid.

“Compared to other native bees, honeybees are either less efficient or unable to pollinate some food crops,” says Susan Carpenter, a native botanical curator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. told Nexstar. Instead, bees are “livestock maintained and cared for by beekeepers” and can be “harmful to the wide variety of native bees” around you.

Flowers aren’t everything for pollinators either.

Some pollinators use only one or a few flowers, as Carpenter explains.Limited flowering times may not overlap with pollinator activity periods, and flowers ‘bred for pretty or novel functions’ may limit the availability of pollen and nectar, resulting in ‘pollination’. Some of the plants sold in local nurseries It may not even be a native plantmaking it more difficult or impossible for pollinators to do their job.

Not surprisingly, treating your plants with pesticides can make them toxic to pollinators or reduce fertility, notes Carpenter. If possible, you may also want to avoid lawn treatments, especially if you have lawn plants.

Many cities launched “No More May” Efforts It is intended to support pollinators. During these months, residents are encouraged to grow their lawns without facing city ordinances that may require frequent maintenance.

“No mow May was a good way to generate conversations about sustainable lawn care and the economic and environmental costs of chemically treated low-diversity lawns,” says Carpenter. “If your lawn doesn’t bloom or doesn’t bloom in May, you won’t get more flower resources after growing it for a month. Being lawn plants, pollinators who visit them can benefit.”

When it comes to helping pollinators in the garden and elsewhere in the garden, Carpenter recommends native plants. Enumerate multiple native pollinators By region.

This includes species such as the Michigan lily in the Northeast and upper Midwest states, butterfly milkweed in the region around the Great Smoky Mountains, Texas bluebonnets in the southern Plains, and Rocky Mountain bees in much of the west. .

“The same gardening practices that support pollinators also support other life and nature. Songbirds, animals and beneficial insects are just a few examples of groups that benefit from gardening native plants.” ” Carpenter adds.

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