As Iowans enjoy blueberries, cherries and other fruits of summer, wildlife experts are asking that they give back to the pollinators who helped them grow. National Pollinator Week, which ends Sunday, is drawing attention to the importance of pollinators for ecosystems and food production.
Mary Phillips, senior director of the Garden for Wildlife, National Wildlife Foundation, says animal pollinators including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds pollinate one-third of crops in the U.S.
But habitat loss, parasites and pesticides have contributed to a steep decline of pollinator populations, including Iowa’s rusty-patched bumblebee that was recently listed as endangered. Phillips says Iowans, and folks from around the nation, are encouraged to plant a garden to support native pollinators.
She explains even small gardens can make a difference by increasing diversity of bee species across urban and suburban landscapes.
The National Wildlife Federation is part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, which is two-thirds of the way to its goal. Phillips says habitat gardens can be registered to become part of an online mapping system, and folks can also consult the NWF’s native plant finder to discover the best plants for their area.