Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pollinator Week

As BugGirl reminds us, the last week in June (this year, June 20-26) is designated as National Pollinator Week. Pollinators are the insects, bats, and birds that move pollen from plant to plant in exchange for food (in the form of nectar or pollen). Bees are the most efficient insect pollinators, but wasps, butterflies, moths, flies, and beetles also do pollination work. Pollination is important because it enables plants to exchange gametes more efficiently. The gametes from the male parts of a plant need to come in contact with female parts (preferably of another plant) in order for the plant to produce fruit or seeds. Without the services provided by pollinators, we would not have delicious foods like coffee, chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, and apples. In the long run, cross-pollination is important for maintaining genetic diversity among a plant population.

Here is list of events for Pollinator Week, such as butterfly walks and lectures on pollinators and native plants. Another activity to consider is making a pollinator garden, full of plants or foraging and larval host plants, or modifying an existing garden to be more pollinator-friendly. By entering your zip code, you can get a pdf booklet with recommendations of plants suitable for your region. Here are the recommendations for my region, the Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province. The Xerces Society also has pollinator conservation resources and guidelines. The Xerces Society has also published a book on pollinators, which I reviewed here recently.

Here are a couple of insect pollinators I found in the backyard recently. Above is a small carpenter bee (Ceratina sp.) feeding on butterfly weed. Below is a Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta) resting on a leaf.