How to attract and welcome pollinators into your yard
This blog is dedicated to environmental activism, primarily focused on the protection of pollinators. Most of the articles talk about the importance of these pollinators with a focus on honeybees. But, bees aren’t the only pollinators responsible for the pollination of over 75% of our food sources and flowering plants or the $200 globally in agricultural production. To give our due diligence to the other important pollinators, this week’s blog post will provide a guide to other backyard pollinators, and what you can do to make your yard a home for all pollinators.
All pollinators will need shelter and water – you can provide water by filling a shallow dish with marbles (to prevent drowning and attract pollinators with bright colors) and water. Shelters can be provided in various ways: piles of leaves/compost, bird houses, artificial nesting boxes, bat boxes, decomposing logs and/or trees, trees, and blocks of wood with holes drilled in them. Stay tuned next week for an article about insect and bee hotels!
As with any plants and flowers, make sure the seeds & plants you purchase are not treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. It is equally important to not use neonicotinoids in your pest management plans. If you have landscapers, talk to them about the importance of avoiding application of neonics. Lastly, get on your area’s ‘NO SPRAY’ list to avoid pesticides applied by the city or county in which you live (find out how here).
Butterflies: Butterflies are attracted to nectar-rich flowers, as this is one of their primary sources of nutrients. Some great flowers to plant for butterflies include Oregano, Sage, Lavender, Marigolds, Zinnia, Shasta Daisies, and Calendula. For caterpillars, make sure to have some Milkweed, Thistle, Willow, and Fennel. Butterflies are also attracted to muddy puddles, as this is where they get salt and other nutrients.
Moths: Moths have a similar pallet to those of butterflies. Moths, like bats, are nocturnal. Moths are particularly attracted to white and fragrant flowers, such as yucca (this makes them easier to find at night).
Bats: Bats are another important pollinator that you can welcome into your yard. Bats are nocturnal, so you probably won’t see much of them. However, bats are important not only as pollinators, but make a great natural pest management system: bats feed on mosquitos and other bugs that are in your yard as well. To attract bats, plant some flowers that bloom at night, like moonflower, four-o’clock, yucca, and evening primrose.
Birds: There are a variety of birds that can make your backyard a home! Birds, like bats, provide both pollination and an organic pest management system. Mixed seeds are a great option for birds, since the various types will attract more than one type of bird. A water feature, like a small fountain, can be helpful in attracting birds, since they may not know that water is available. Birdfeeders can also be a great way to attract and keep lots of birds in your yard. Just make sure to choose a seed that is specific to your region or yard to cater to the most birds.
Other insects: Other insects provide important pollination and food for pollinators in your yard. Some can even help with pest management. Having a variety of plants and flowers can help these populations do their part.
To learn how to accommodate bees, check out last week’s post here.
Like these topics? Next week, we will be exploring bee and other insect hotels that you can craft for your yard to create the ultimate habitat for wildlife!