With pollinator populations on the decline — most notably native and managed bees and the iconic monarch butterfly — it’s time for gardeners to take action.
Each one of us can take steps to help these beneficial and beautiful insects.
First, incorporate pollinator-friendly flowers into your garden plot. And, plant some native milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s ONLY food source.
Second, use an integrated pest management approach to control insect pests in the garden. Use pesticides as a last resort, and not during the times of day when pollinators are most active (generally mid-morning).
The plight of honey and native bees has been well documented in recent years. Awareness of the monarch butterfly decline is just gaining the public’s attention.
Monarch populations have declined 90 percent from the 20-year average since the mid-1990s, states the Xerces Society. “If monarchs were people, that would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio,” the society wrote on its website. Habitat loss, climate change, genetically engineered crops and the use of herbicides and insecticides, among other factors, threaten the butterflies’ survival, claim conservationalists.
In December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it will conduct a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service will evaluate the insect’s biology, range, population trends, habitat and climate requirements, genetics, behavior, conservation measures and other factors, and will announce its decision on whether the listing is warranted in December 2015.
In the meantime, teach your children and students about pollinators and do something to help reverse the trends.