How to create a pollinator habitat in your backyard

How to create a pollinator habitat in your backyard

With gardening season in full swing, creating a pollinator habitat in your backyard could be a reality. But let’s start with the basics – what is pollination? Pollination is the process where pollen from the stamen (male part of a flower) is transferred to the pistol (female part of the flower) and is required for plants to produce seeds that will become the next generation. Pollination often occurs because of an outside force like wind or by animal pollinators such as bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds. Without pollinators, we wouldn’t have many of the beautiful flowers we see in our forests, fields and gardens or many of the delicious fruits and vegetables that we eat every day. Even chocolate depends on a single species of fly, which is appropriately called the ‘chocolate midge’ (even more proof that pollinators are essential to life).

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed.

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed.

Pollinator week is coming up on June 19 to 25 and you might be wondering what you can do to help support our native pollinators. Here are a few simple ways that you can give pollinators a helping hand:

  • Add native pollinator plants to your landscape: Native plants have evolved with our native pollinators so they are best at supporting them. Purchase or download our new Native Plants for Pollinators booklet to learn more about what the best pollinator plants are for your garden.
  • Provide nesting sites for bees: Some solitary bees nest in hollow tubes so installing a bee box or leaving plant stems standing through the winter can provide locations for these bees to nest. Other bees nest in the ground, so make sure to leave a patch of open soil for them.
  • Provide host plants for butterflies: Some caterpillars (which become butterflies) need very specific food. For example the Monarch caterpillar requires milkweed to become the beautiful butterfly we are all familiar with. Adding host plants to your property will help support butterflies through all life stages.

Provide water: A small dish with rocks, sand and water will attract butterflies looking for water, nutrients and salts; some species may even congregate for a puddle party.

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