Pollinators: Our Forgotten Farm Babies
Pollinators are vital to healthy ecosystems and productive food systems - and no farm would be complete without them! But pollinator numbers across the globe are declining and they need our help! Learn more about the importance of pollinators and how you can act on their behalf.
Pollinators Need Us to Act, and You Can Help!
Be a messy gardener! Leave standing and dead plant debris in your garden each fall for pollinator overwintering habitat
Avoid pesticide use! Bees and butterflies are sensitive to many chemicals. Spraying pesticides on your lawn and garden will kill plants they need to survive and may kill pollinators themselves
Take some time to appreciate the pollinators in your own backyard!
What is the Minnesota Zoo Doing to Help?
The Minnesota Zoo is committed to the conservation of wildlife and their habitats. The Zoo’s Prairie Butterfly Conservation Project works with other partnering agencies to ensure a future for the state’s most imperiled butterfly species. Through pioneering research and reintroduction efforts, the Minnesota Zoo is fighting to save Dakota skipper and Poweshiek skipperling populations, two butterfly species once common throughout the state but are now at risk of extinction.
In addition, the Minnesota Zoo educates people throughout the state on at-risk pollinators, such as the Monarch butterfly and rusty patched bumble bee, and how to take action to help.
Pollinate Your Plate
Did you know that approximately 1/3 of the food on your plate is dependent on pollinators?? Without healthy pollinator populations like bees and butterflies, our diets would be much less tasty. Here are some common foods and beverages we would miss out on...
Apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, almonds, avocados, coffee and tea, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, chocolate, squash- even milk and cheese as many of the plants cows eat depend on pollinators!
Act for Pollinators
- Pollinators are vital to healthy ecosystems and productive farm systems!
- About 70% of all plant species on earth rely on pollinators.
- Approximately one third of the food humans eat depends on pollinators.
- In the US, pollination produces nearly $20 billion worth of crops every year.
- Pollinators are key to healthy ecosystems. Beyond being integral to plant reproduction and survival, they act as a key food source themselves for many animals. In addition, the plants they support clean water, absorb carbon dioxide, and prevent soil erosion.
- No! At least 80% of the most common crops eaten by humans are pollinated by wild bees and other wildlife, not managed honeybees. And remember, it’s not only bees working hard! Butterflies, beetles, bats, and birds also pollinate.
Worldwide pollinator numbers are declining due to factors that include habitat loss, disease, pesticide use, and climate change. One in 4 wild bee species in the US is at risk of extinction. The iconic monarch butterfly has declined by over 90 percent in just the past 20 years. One of the reasons for this decline is the lack of milkweed, the only plant host monarch caterpillars survive on.
- Plant native wildflowers, such as milkweed, in your garden! Plant to have wildflowers blooming throughout the entire growing season so you can help the various life stages and species of pollinators. Convert your turf lawn to a pollinator-friendly lawn by mowing less frequently and allowing “weedy” plants like clover to flower. Eliminate or reduce your use of pesticides on lawns and gardens. And leave dead and standing plant debris in the fall, instead of clearing it from your garden, so that overwintering insects can utilize it for habitat.
- A single bee can visit up to 5,000 flowers in a day!
- To make one pound of honey a hive of bees must travel over 55,000 miles and visit two million flowers.
- There are estimated to be about 2,000 vertebrate species, like mammals and reptiles, that act as pollinators.
- At least 80% of the most common crops eaten by humans are pollinated by wild bees and other wildlife, not managed honeybees.
- Apples, squash, almonds, blueberries, cranberries, kiwis, melons, pears, and plums are some of the crops that utilize pollinators for reproduction.
- A single female blueberry bee will visit about 50,000 blueberry flowers in a few short weeks, resulting in over 6,000 blueberries for human consumption.
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