Plants for Pollinators
June 22, 2022 | EDUCATION
– By Sarada Sangameswaran, Interpretive Educator
The last full week of June is National Pollinator Week, one week each year dedicated to educating the public about the importance of pollinators. But what do pollinators have to do with the carbon cycle? The answer is everything!
Pollinators transfer pollen from one plant to another and are typically rewarded with a sweet treat for their service. Most pollinators are insects, but there are birds and even bats who perform this function. Between 75% to 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need pollinators to help with pollen transfer. Without pollinators, most plants would not be able to produce seeds, and thus the next generation of plants. Many of those habitats that capture carbon and store it for the long term would not exist without these animals.
Pollinators also have an important role in the fruits and vegetables we all enjoy. Did you know that one out of every three bites we consume are possible thanks to a pollinator? Everything we would enjoy in a summer picnic, from watermelon, tomatoes, avocados, oranges, and peppers, rely on pollinators. And that is just a drop in the bucket! The crops that feed us year-round rely on these friends. Without pollinators, our plates would be reduced to wind pollinated crops such as rice, wheat, and corn. Gone would be the cornucopia of fruits and vegetables we enjoy. Remember, one of the best hopes for keeping our planet cool is to adopt a plant friendly diet, which is only possible with pollinators.
And let’s talk about the economy. According to the Pollinator Partnership, pollinators add 217 billion dollars to the global economy through their free services. Honeybees, which are just one of many pollinators, contribute between 1.2 and 5.4 billion dollars in agricultural productivity in the United States. Protecting pollinators and their habitats makes sense ecologically and economically.
We can each create habitat in our gardens and public spaces to help pollinators thrive. Remember that butterflies, moths, native bees, beetles and even ants are pollinators. Invite them to your garden to feed and nest, and not only will you provide an invaluable service to these creatures, but you will enjoy a colorful display in your garden.
You can create a haven for pollinators in your home garden by following a few simple tips:
To learn more about plants that are suitable to our area, visit https://xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/plant-lists/
What are you prepared to do to create a habitable world? The solutions are in our hands. Join us on this journey. Take the #MyCarbonCyclePledge.