Pollinators are responsible for one-out-of-every-three bites of food we take each day, yet pollinators are at a critical survival point. Increasing the number of pollinator-friendly gardens and landscapes help revive the health of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Create an oasis for native wildlife
Pollinator health is critical to our food system and the diversity of life across the world. By carrying pollen from one plant to another, pollinators fertilize approximately 80% of flowering plants, enabling them to develop fruit and seeds. They are crucial support for other insects, birds, and mammals — humans included.
Native plants important for pollinators
Plants for your region will likely bloom and produce nectar and pollen in sync with the migration or life cycles of insects. Certain caterpillars and butterflies require a specific host plant to survive, such as monarchs that need Swamp Milkweed.
Once a native plant is established, it can tolerate feeding from our native creatures easily. Swamp Milkweed can be nearly defoliated by monarch caterpillars but will survive just fine.
Insect buffets, pollinators’ shelter
Planting annuals and perennials that bloom in your landscape beds and containers create an all-you-can-eat buffet for beneficial insects like bees and butterflies. Shelter for pollinators can be as simple as perennial grasses, woody shrubs, and trees. Bees can nest in ground holes or hollow stems.
A wonderful source for guidance is an Illinois Certified Nursery Professional at your local nursery or garden center who will advise you on the perennials to plant in the areas where you’re trying to create more habitat for pollinators.
Healthy insect populations
This translates to a healthier food chain. Insects are like the bottom of the natural food pyramid. Many animals, birds, and reptiles depend on insect protein. When insect populations are not healthy, populations of certain birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals also suffer.