Pollinators Need You
Pollinators provide an indispensable service.
They pollinate 90% of the world's flowering plants and more than
two-thirds of the world's crop species. Without them, fruit trees, berry
bushes, flowering vegetables, and crops like canola and alfalfa would
disappear. Canada has over 800 native species of insect pollinators and
bees are the most common. Others include butterflies, moths, wasps,
flies and some types of beetles.
Over 40% of our insect species are in steep decline and already
one-third are endangered. Current rates of decline mean one-quarter of
our insects could be wiped out in the next decade. Without insects, the
threat to our future can't be stressed enough. This is where you can
make a difference.
With the arrival of warmer weather, so many of us long to grab the
garden tools and start preparing for the summer season. Try to resist,
however, for a few more weeks. While there is still a threat of frost
and until daytime temperatures are consistently above 10C, pollinators
rely on leaves and hollow stalks for shelter and protection. As well,
raking leaves now simply moves valuable pollinators from your garden
into the trash.
When planning your garden, add pollinator-friendly plants. Use plants
native to our region because our local insect populations are uniquely
adapted to them, and they require less maintenance. This might include
Bergamot, Black-eyed Susans, and Echinacea. Also consider the
pollinator's life stages (Milkweed, for example, is essential food for
Monarch caterpillars). Provide nesting sites for eggs and larvae by
leaving patches of bare ground, conserving brush piles, and installing
Join the 'No Mow May' movement and avoid pesticides. Wait until the end
of May to start mowing your lawn, then mow as seldom as possible. Since
there are few flowers to nourish pollinators in early spring, let your
dandelions provide an important food source. Pesticides can be lethal
and can compound the effects of other stressors, such as loss of habitat
and exposure to pathogens and disease. When buying plants, take care to
ensure that they were not treated with neonicotinoids, a systemic (i.e.
incorporated into the plant tissue) pesticide with enormous ecological
To learn more, our Meaford Library has a wealth of resources plus a
native plant seed bank. Meaford's new Grey Heron Garden Centre sells
native plants and can provide expert advice. Additionally, get involved
with Transition Meaford as it works with the Municipality to grow bee
and butterfly gardens throughout town and will be submitting an
application for Bee City status soon. Transition Meaford also offers
native plant seed mixes, especially selected to attract and nourish our
native bees and butterflies. To join Transition Meaford, send us an
email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Rachel Carson once said, "I believe with all my heart in the power of
individual people to make the world a better place." Start this spring
in your garden.