Springtime is the perfect time for a fun family activity that helps wildlife – planting a pollinator garden!  It’s a great way to learn about the bees, butterflies, and other pollinators that we depend upon.  And you can feel good about providing habitat for species that need our help, like monarch butterflies.

We invite you to take the Minnesota Zoo’s Pollinator Challenge!  Plant a pollinator garden, take photos all season long of the insects that come for a visit, and post them to the Zoo’s Facebook fan page or your other social media networks using the hashtag #Plant4Pollinators.  We’ll collect the photos on our Pollinator Challenge webpage!

Don’t know where to begin?  We’ve got you covered!

  • Check out our Plant for Pollinators guide, where you can find information about what to plant, how to ensure your plants are safe for pollinators, and how you can participate in pollinator citizen science projects. Find a spot – large or small – and start planting!
  • Next, get out your camera and start snapping beautiful photos of your flowers and the pollinators they attract. Then see if you can identify the insects you’re helping! Here are some good resources:
  • Common backyard butterflies  of Minnesota
  • Minnesota’s bumble bees: females and males
  • Consult the experts with BugGuide, and the external Pollinators on Native Plants Facebook group.
  • Learn more bee biology with Encyclopedia of Life’s Observer Cards
  • Post your photos to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (“public” setting) using the hashtag #Plant4Pollinators. We’ll collect the photos on our Pollinator Challenge.  Check out all the fun photos and try your hand at ID-ing some of the pollinators!

Here are some photos from a Zoo staff member’s Twin Cities home garden, for inspiration!

Two-spotted bumble bee on bee balm

Brown-belted bumble bee and purple coneflower Eastern tiger swallowtail on purple coneflower (2) Eristalis hoverfly on black-eyed susan Great black wasp on swamp milkweed3 Heriades Small resin bee on butterfly milkweed Megachile Leafcutter bee female on purple coneflower 2 Megachile Leafcutter bee female on purple coneflower Monarch on swamp milkweed Peck's skipper on purple coneflower Red admiral on purple coneflower (2) Sinuous bee fly