Pollinators are the creatures that transfer pollen from one plant to another, allowing the flowers of that plant to bloom, and its fruit to grow. While the most familiar pollinators to us are bees and butterflies, many other insects do so as well. These include ants, beetles, flies, moths, and wasps. In addition, birds and small mammals like bats also help with pollination.
Pollinators are extremely important to agriculture. It is estimated that about one in every four bites of food humans eat was provided to us by a pollinator. This includes more than 1,000 food crops in the United States and almost all fruits and vegetables.
Challenges Facing Pollinators
Pollinators today are facing many threats and challenges. The two most serious of these are loss of habitat and the use of pesticides.
Loss of habitat. When native plantings are replaced by roads, lawns, and non-native plants, the food and nesting sites the pollinators have used for many generations are destroyed. At the same time, new development of land leads to fragmentation of habitat sites making the remaining places that support the pollinators too far apart.
Use of Pesticides. Pesticides that are used to kill harmful and unwanted organisms also harm many other creatures as well, and ecological pest management solutions should be prioritized. It is important that the safety of pollinators be considered whenever pesticides are used. This means that pesticides should only be used as a last resort. If pesticides are used, they should be used in a targeted way, and that only the minimum amount of pesticide required be used.
What Loudoun Wildlife Is Doing to Help Pollinators
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Protecting Pollinators program highlights the importance and value of pollinators in our ecosystem. It is an inter-disciplinary program that includes Advocacy, Education, Habitat Restoration and Audubon at Home programs along with Native Plant Sales.
We host education and outreach programs in formal and informal settings to educate the public about the value of pollinators. Habitat restoration projects provide habitat for wildlife, including pollinators. Native plants are used in all of our habitat restoration projects, and we provide greater access to native plants through our semi-annual Native Plant Sale and Milkweed Sales. Our Audubon at Home program certifies properties as wildlife sanctuaries, and providing habitat for wildlife and pollinators is a central component of the program. Our advocacy program works to educate public officials and policy makers on the threats to pollinators and impacts of human caused development. Among our goals are to create stronger policies, ordinances, and protections for pollinators and pollinator habitat.
The most serious threats to pollinators and pollinator habitat are human caused. Our goal is to raise awareness and educate the public to these threats and provide actionable solutions to minimize the impacts of humans on pollinators and pollinator habitat.
What You Can Do To Help Pollinators
- Plant a pollinator-friendly garden. For help in planning your garden, see Gardening for Bees.
- Avoid using pesticides in your flower and vegetable gardens. For more information on pesticides, see Understanding Pesticides and Pesticides in Yards and Gardens.
- Instead of reacting to pests, practice preventative pest management.
- Add a source of water like a birdbath to your garden.
- DISCOVER: Education
- EXPLORE: Citizen Science
- RESTORE: Habitat Conservation
- PROTECT: Conservation Advocacy
- PRESERVE: JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary
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