By Ashlee Forman – University of Nevada, Reno Intern
Did you know that this week is National Pollinator Week? National Pollinator Week began to bring awareness to the current state of pollinator health and to encourage conservation action!
Chances are that just today, one of the foods you ate or one of the products you used had a pollinator product in it. Pollinators are responsible for the pollination of over 87.5% of flowering plants and for pollinating an estimated 75% of all the foods we eat (Honey Bee Conservancy). Coffee, tea, lemons, bananas, vanilla, almonds, dairy products, and hundreds of other foods are so readily available due to the efforts of pollinator’s worldwide.
What is pollination and who are our pollinators?
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of another flower. Pollinators consist of varying species of animals and insects. In fact, there are over 200,000 types of pollinators worldwide (Honey Bee Conservancy). These include species such as bats, bees, moths, and rodents.
Pollinators are in decline.
According to a research study conducted by Simon Potts and featured in the Science Direct Journal, there has been a clear decline in pollinator populations worldwide, paralleled by the decline in the plants they pollinate (Potts). This not only affects the native plants reliant on pollinators, but the decline can negatively affect crop production and food security.
What threats exist to pollinators?
There are several threats to pollinators worldwide. The most significant threat is the loss of their habitats. Natural spaces have been converted to agricultural land for food production, and cities continue to expand, leaving little room for pollinators to make a home. With the expansion of agricultural land has come the frequent use of pesticides. Pesticides are used to kill pests that harm crops, but they also harm pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Climate change is also affecting pollinators. As temperatures shift, so do growing seasons and mating seasons for plants and pollinators alike.
Take action to help protect pollinators!
Countries, states, towns, businesses, and individuals are taking action to conserve pollinators and their dwindling habitats. Actions range from organic farming initiatives that protect habitat and steer away from using pesticides to cities partnering with residents and businesses to create pollinator-friendly gardens.
The City of Reno’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services department plants pollinator gardens with flowering perennials. You can visit a few of these flowerbeds, planting areas, and planters at:
- Damonte Ranch
- Evelyn Mount Northeast Community Center
- Idlewild Sensory Garden
- Lake Park
- McKinley Arts & Culture Center
- Panther Valley (Monarch Butterfly Garden)
- Paradise Community Garden
- Virginia Lake
- West Street Median
- West Street Plaza
- Whitaker Park
Below are a few ways that you can choose to get involved:
- Plant for pollinators at your home or office. Bee’s and other pollinators are best suited for native plants, such as columbine, violet, goldenrod, coneflower, evening primrose, buckwheat, paintbrush, arrow leaf balsamroot, sticky geranium, bee balm, gentian, and lilies (Skelley). Plant milkweed to support monarch butterflies.
- Place a bee bath in your yard or garden to give the busy bees and other pollinators a place to rest and rehydrate.
- Avoid synthetic pesticides and insecticides and employ organic gardening techniques.
- If it is available and within your budget, buy organic! Organic farmers forgo the use of harmful pesticides, focusing on natural alternatives for pest management.
- Write your representatives about your support for proper pollinator practices and pollinator conservation.
Take one action during National Pollinator Week, and make sure to share what you did with your friends and family! To learn more about this topic, check out the following resources used to research this blog: