Tomatoes. Apples. Almonds. Pumpkin. Coffee. Tea. Chocolate.
All pretty important, right? And they all have one thing in common: they need pollinators.
Around 1,000 plants that humans use for food, drink, fiber, spices or medicine need to be pollinated by a very special group of animals called pollinators. Bees, butterflies, wasps, moths, hummingbirds, bats and even some kinds of beetles, flies and ants are incredibly necessary to produce much of the food humans need to survive. As pollinators forage for nectar, they transfer pollen from male to female flowers to allow the plant to reproduce – and feed humans.
But many pollinators are in trouble. Bees worldwide are suffering colony collapse disorder, caused by loss of their forage plants, climate change and other stressors. Other pollinators are also at risk from loss of habitat, plant biodiversity, pesticides and pollution.
Luckily, it’s not hard to support pollinators right in your own backyard.
Here at the Zoo we’re celebrating all our pollinators and the beautiful plants that support them – July 2nd is the next Garden Tour given by our horticulture team and the theme is Backyard Pollinators.
How to help pollinators
- Plant native wildflowers for your area to feed your local pollinators. Find a good list here.
- Include a selection of plants so that something will be blooming in each season. Learn more on our Pollinator Garden page.
- Plant something for everyone: butterflies like flat flowers, hummingbirds visit tubular flowers, bees love clustered flowers. And hungry caterpillars need food too!
- Set up a pollinator water dish in a protected location. Make sure it has a shallow end for small creatures and keep the water filled and fresh.
- Help pollinators find shelter by installing mason bee houses or bird or bat boxes. (There are many websites with instructions.)
- Avoid chemical pesticides, which harm pollinators. Learn about organic gardening here.
- Mulch to discourage weeds.
Check out our gallery for inspiration, then come visit the Zoo for a Backyard Pollinators Garden Tour!