In honor of National Pollinator Week last week, Nature Net is here for your pollination education!
Pollination occurs when the pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) is transferred to the female part of the same or another flower (stigma). This fertilizes the plant and leads to the production of fruits and seeds!
Pollinators play an essential role in flowering plant and gymnosperm reproduction, as only about 20% of plants are pollinated without the assistance of animals -- and one out of every three bites of food is pollinated by pollinators! Without these hard-working critters, we would be without many fruits, vegetables, and nuts that we enjoy on a daily basis.
Pollinators can be found just about everywhere during the summer months! The majority of pollinators in Wisconsin are flying insects, including bees, flies, wasps, butterflies, moths, and beetles. Hummingbirds and bats are other very important pollinators in the state.
|This is what your grocery store would look like|
From: Whole Foods Market and Xerces Society
Hummingbirds are another very interesting and important species. Along with being incredibly fun to observe -- they beat their wings as much as 80 times per second! -- they are also important pollinators. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only common species in the Midwest. It is easily attracted to feeders, and quickly accustomed to human presence, so it’s very easy to entice these birds to come to your yard!
Bats are also incredibly important pollinators and seed dispersers in Wisconsin. Additionally, they are important predators of biting insects, and may be extremely important in reducing insect-borne diseases, such as the West –Nile virus, which is becoming more and more prevalent in Wisconsin.
Butterflies and moths are other very important local pollinators. Some important Wisconsin butterfly and moth species include the Viceroy, Meadow Fritillary, American Snout, Black Swallowtail, Monarch and Hummingbird Moth.
These pollinators all play an incredibly important role in maintaining biological diversity in ecosystems and food chains throughout Wisconsin. Humans and wildlife both depend on these pollinators as a food source. Unfortunately, some of these important pollinators are declining due to pesticide use, habitat destruction, invasive species, climate change and disease. However, there are many things you and your family can do to help these local pollinators continue helping you!
What you can do to help your local pollinators:
- Help to restore local ecosystems and plant pollinator gardens to attract pollinators by using native Wisconsin plants, choosing several colors and differing heights of flowers, planting flowers in clumps, and planting flowers that bloom at night (for bats)
- Purchase local honey and local organic foods to support farmers and beekeepers
- Put overripe fruit on a sponge in a dish of lightly salted water to attract bees and butterflies
- Encourage a variety of nesting sites or make a bug hotel
- Eliminate pesticide use in your lawn and garden
- Support local reserves or get involved with insect conservation
- Raise pollinator awareness with some fun crafts like pipe cleaner bumble bees, beeswax candles, leafy moths, paper butterflies, and egg carton insects
Without pollinators, we would be without so many of the things we enjoy on a daily basis. So the next time you eat an apple or have your morning cup of coffee, think of who (or what) made it possible, and thank a pollinator near you!
If you're interested in learning more about bees, be sure to check out the UW Arboretum's event on July 19th called Bumble Bees and Pollination! For more information, click here.
Happy Strawberry Season!
Lauren, Communications Intern