The important role played by the pollinators is becoming more apparent as people recognize that many of their species are declining in numbers. I am regularly approached by individuals who say that they are just not seeing any pollinators in their lawns and gardens. Some are not getting the vegetable crops that they expected as a result of not having adequate numbers of pollinators. One person told me that he had a “perfect” lawn in his front yard with no dandelions, weeds, or clover. However, he had a garden in his back yard that was not producing anything. He said that maybe he should stop spraying and let some clover grow for the pollinators. Many of the causes of the decline in pollinators are man-made and can be attributed to the loss of habitat and forage. To spread the word of the importance of the pollinators, this week has been declared National Pollinator Week. Visit the Pollinator Partnership web site at http://www.pollinator.org/ for ideas of ways to help protect the pollinators. The Partnership manages the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
One way that we can rapidly turn environmental conditions in favor of the pollinators is to plant a pollinator garden. This can be almost any landscape planting, herb, kitchen, or vegetable garden. Native plants are especially valuable to the bees, bats, butterflies, moths, mammals, and various insects that pollinate our flowering plants. Lists of sources of native plants can be found at http://www.plantnative.org/. Today’s photo shows a moth collecting nectar from vitex, or chaste tree. Vitex is a large flowering shrub or small tree that was brought to America in the 1600s. It blooms in the summer when the pollinators often experience a dearth of nectar, making it an important food source. The moth hovers around the spires of vitex blooms in a flight that resembles another pollinator, the hummingbird. This moth has evolved the appearance of a bee, a protection from predators.--Richard