What’s the Buzz? The Importance of Pollinators in Your Landscape

Fuzzy bumble bees and colorful monarch butterflies populate children’s stories as friendly and fascinating helpers in a healthy ecosystem. Right now, those pollinators are under attack in your own backyard—and need your help.

Consider these facts:

  • While our primary pollinators are insects, hummingbirds, small mammals and bats contribute to the effort. Fruit and nectar-consuming bats pollinate flowers and disperse seeds.
  • The United States generates more than $40 billion of products each year with the help of pollinators.
  • In the last decade, the U.S. has lost over half its domestic honeybee colonies. Native and managed bee colonies, butterflies and other pollinator populations are in decline from habitat stress, disease and pesticide use.

Recognizing the risk to environmental and economic health, President Obama directed federal agencies in October, 2014 to collaborate on the investigation and instigation of steps to restore critical pollinator groups.

While local and federal governments work to address the deteriorating picture for pollinators, there are easy ways you can improve the outlook for pollinators—and our planet. Here are some tips:

  • Plant for pollinators: Replace resource-thirsty lawn with native plants or other flowers. Check out plant lists before you buy to get the best bargain for your backyard and your pollinators.
  • Room with a view: Install houses for bats, bees or hummingbirds. Inexpensive and easy to make, pollinator houses are a great way to involve friends and family and improve your habitat.
  • Take it easy with the spray: Pesticides are a leading cause of pollinator stress and death. Learn about integrated pest management (IPM) and tolerate a little garden damage as nature at work.

Talk to a Master Gardener or other gardening expert for low-impact solutions to weed and insect problems or advice on pollinator-pleasing plants. The small steps you take today will make a big difference tomorrow.