Why is it important to have pollinators in our environment?
Pollinators are vital to creating and maintaining the habitats and ecosystems that many animals rely on for food and shelter. Worldwide, over half the diet of fats and oils comes from crops pollinated by animals. They facilitate the reproduction in 90% of the world’s flowering plants.
POLLINATORS ARE IN CRITICAL DECLINE AND NEED YOUR HELP. In my garden, we take insects seriously and make sure they have a good home, with plenty of flowers to feed from and we don’t spray any pesticides of any kind. I believe every insect in our ecosystem has an important job to play and when some start to disappear from our environment this can have a huge impact.
Why is there less pollinators in our world today?
A decline in pollinators can be attributed to the use of pesticides, diseases, habitat destruction, air pollution, and even climate change (temperatures rise and insects cannot tolerate the heat and have to move elsewhere or die). Longer summers, less rainfall affects them too. All these factors, as well as massive human population growth, are causing natural habitats to be cleared to make way for new houses, or more farming, leaving animals and insects to look for new areas to survive. *The iconic monarch butterfly has declined by over 90 percent in just twenty years.
Who are our Pollinators?
- Honey Bees
- Native Bees
- Monarch Butterflies
- Birds (Especially Hummingbirds)
Pollinators visit flowers to drink nectar or feed off pollen and transport pollen grains as they move from spot to spot. If we had no pollinators in our world we wouldn’t have half the amount of fruit or vegetables that you see in our supermarkets.
What can you do to help?
It starts with you… educate your friends and family. Speak to your local governments, national governments, get informed about what is being sprayed in your local area. The following points below are a great way to start to care for the pollinators in your own back garden.
1. Water Table. Add a water table for the birds and insects to drink from.
2. Become a wildlife gardener. Let your daisies and dandelions grow, including your grass verge for an extra few weeks the bees will love you for it. Sometimes this may be the only food source for a kilometre or so. If you have the space, create a wild garden and let your some of your vegetables and flowers go to seed. These flowers attract heaps of bees and you can keep some seeds for next year as well as sharing them with the birds. Last summer I noticed hundreds arrive as soon as the sun came up in the morning, I had two large areas where I had let spring onions, poppies and Nasturtium go to flower. It was an enjoyable sight watching the bees pop in and out of every flower.
3. Colour up your garden. Plant an array of nectar flowers some of which flower during winter months when the food source is more scarce. Choose simple flowers that have easily accessible pollen. Mix it up with native and exotic plants. Many native bees, flies and butterflies are more attracted to native flowers such as Manuka, Hebe and Pohutukawa.
4. Plant Milkweed/Swan Plants. The Swan plant is the host plant to the caterpillar. Without Swan plants Monarch butterflies cannot lay their eggs, and caterpillars starve. During early spring plant as many as you can… sprinkle the seeds in a tray and transplant once the seedlings are established. You will be pleased you planted so many and will have enough food for your hungry caterpillars over the peak summer months. Also plant swan plants at your local community gardens, businesses or schools. Wouldn’t it be amazing if every school had their own pollinator garden?
5. Avoid harmful fertilisers and pesticides. Even though some say they are insect friendly, double check the label. Using any pesticides changes the natural balance of your soil.
6 Plant natives. Go to your local garden centre and ask what types are plants are native to your area. Go have a look in your neighbours’ gardens for ideas or see what plants are around in your local parks.
7. Shop at your local farmers market. There are more farmers market than ever before around, here you can purchase organic fresh fruit and vegetables, whilst supporting your local community by buying local.
8. Spread the Word on Social Media. You can help this call to action by spreading the message about the plight of bees, monarch butterflies and other declining pollinators on social media. Take a minute to share my link, on your other social media networks.
9. Order a honey hive for your property, if you have room. Contact a local bee keeper and you can have the hive on your property as well as a few jars of honey each year. If your in NZ you can hire a bee hive, that way you can relax knowing your flowers and fruit trees will be pollinated. find out more http://kiwibees.co.nz/ or google to find a local company in your area.
10. Volunteer in your local area. There are many local reserves in your area that need your help planting trees, or native plants.
11. Make a house for the insects to lay their eggs in and rest. My daughter made me a ladybird house for Christmas and I love it. It’s for the ladybugs.
Want to know more about taking care of a vital pollinators and would like to purchase my book that has all you need to know about creating a beautiful butterfly garden and raising healthy monarch butterflies go purchase my excellent resource book.
There are many groups in NZ that need volunteers heres the links below.
* Source: Center for Biological Diversity