Pollinators are in trouble. These important wildlife move from plant to plant while searching for protein-rich pollen or high-energy nectar to eat. As they go, they are dusted by pollen and move it to the next flower, fertilizing the plant and allowing it to reproduce and form seeds, berries, fruits and other plant foods that form the foundation of the food chain for other species — including humans.
Bees are the most important pollinators, but over 100,000 invertebrates — including butterflies, moths, wasps, flies, and beetles—and over 1,000 mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, act as pollinators.
Unfortunately, pollinators are in decline worldwide. Habitat loss, invasive species, parasites, and pesticides are largely to blame.
You can help save pollinators. Here are ten ways you can directly help pollinators and support National Wildlife Federation’s efforts to protect and restore these critically important wildlife species.
1. Become a Wildlife Gardener
Join NWF’s growing movement of Wildlife Gardeners who are have made the choice to nurture their own small piece of the Earth–their own yards and gardens–with the needs of wildlife like pollinators in mind. It’s as simple as subscribing to our free Garden for Wildlife e-newsletter. Each month, we’ll send out NWF’s expert tips and projects on how to attract birds, butterflies, pollinators and other “backyard wildlife” to guide you as you become an expert yourself.
2. Plant Natives
Native plants co-evolved with the native wildlife of your region. Native plants form the foundation of habitat for pollinators by providing them with pollen and nectar for food, cover from the elements and predators, and places where their young can grow. The best way to attract beautiful butterflies, busy bees, speedy hummingbirds and other pollinators is to fill your yard with native plants.
3. Gives Bees Nesting Places
There are 4,000 bee species native to North America (the honey bee is a European import) and most of those don’t form hives. Instead, individual female bees lay their eggs in tunnels in decaying wood or in sandy soil. You can offer such nesting spots by leaving tree snags on your property, by leaving bare batches of sandy soil, or by building or buying whimsical native bee houses.
4. Avoid Pesticides
Bees are our most important pollinators, and they are insects. So are butterflies like the monarch. Using insecticides will kill these insects. Herbicides will kill important native plants such as milkweed that pollinators rely upon as a food source and a place to raise young. Make the commitment to avoid using chemicals and to maintain your garden in a natural, organic way.
5. Plant Milkweed