A pollinator is an animal the moves pollen from one flower to another flower of the same species, fertilizing the plant. For many plants, this animal pollination is required for the plant to produce fruit and seeds, and thus reproduce. Nearly 80 percent of crops grown worldwide require animal pollination.
Since pollinators have been declining worldwide, the U.S. Senate unanimously voted to designate a week in June as National Pollinator Week. June 19-25, is a time to celebrate pollinators and the valuable ecosystem service they provide as well as spread the word about what can be done to protect them.
Desert Botanical Garden relies on a diverse group pollinators to keep the plant collection strong.
“When people think about pollinators most think of the honeybee, but there are many native bees that play a more significant pollinator role. The Sonoran Desert has one of the highest, if not the highest, diversity of native bee populations in the world, with about 1,000 species,” says Dr. Kim Pegram, insect ecologist and exhibits specialist. “Other popular pollinators found in the Garden include butterflies, beetles, moths, hummingbirds and bats.”
The Garden is working to protect pollinators, onsite and in the Sonoran Desert:
- Great Milkweed Grow Out - an initiative to grow milkweeds for monarch butterfly conservation. Since implementation, the program has grown 15,000 milkweeds, collected 120,000 seeds and planted six pollinator gardens at schools and parks.
- Pollinator Research – studying pollinators and other beneficial insects that are attracted to native milkweed plants to better understand the benefits of milkweeds. This will ensure plant types selected for habitat projects are beneficial to multiple pollinators.
Participate in National Pollinator Week by protecting pollinators in your own backyard:
- Add flowering plants in your yard. Include plants that bloom throughout the year to create a cycle of flowering plants. Purchase milkweed plants at the Garden Shop.
- Don’t use pesticides. These chemicals will kill pollinators along with other insects.
- Build or buy an insect hotel. Many native bees and other pollinators build nests in wood cavities or in the ground. An insect hotel is a manmade structure built with natural materials intended to provide shelter for insects. They can be large or small and include different types of wood and stone.