Did you know that we wouldn’t have chocolate without pollinators? Tiny midges pollinate the cacoa flower that we make chocolate from. National Pollinator Week is an annual celebration that supports pollinator health. It helps raise awareness and spread the word about ways we can help protect them. National Pollinator Week was started by Pollinator Partnership 14 years ago and was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate in 2017. This year, National Pollinator Week is being celebrated June 20-26, but we like to celebrate and help advocate for pollinators year round!
Pollinators affect our lives in many positive ways. They help support wildlife and aid in creating healthy watersheds. Pollinators are animals that fertilize plants by moving pollen from the male structures, called anthers, of flowers to the female structure, called stigma, of the same species. This results in the production of seeds and is needed for many plants to reproduce. In exchange, the pollinators receive nectar and/or pollen – nectar provides carbohydrates and pollen offers proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and other necessary nutrients. Not all plants require the assistance of pollinators: wheat for example, is wind pollinated, as are most conifers and ragweed. It is estimated that pollinators are responsible for helping more than 75% of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce.
Bees are the primary pollinators we think of, but moths, butterflies, beetles, and flies along with bats, birds, mammals, and reptiles serve as pollinators, too. Pollinators have declined in population around the world due to habitat loss, increased chemical use and other factors. By celebrating and raising awareness on the importance of pollinators, we can help to protect them for our kids and grandkids to enjoy.
Some ways to celebrate National Pollinator Week include:
• Plant a native flower garden – Big or small, any number of native flowers and grasses can help provide habitats for pollinators to thrive.
• Participate in a pollinator scavenger hunt – Scavenger hunts are a fun way to get kids outdoors and to learn about their natural surroundings.
• Celebrate on social media and online – You can find and post pollinator week activities online at https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week. There are also many educational webinars to take part in throughout the week.
• Participate in a garden walk – Visit a local park or garden and spend some time intentionally appreciating the scenery.
• Build or purchase a bat house – Bats play an important role in pollination and seed dispersal. Make a bat-friendly backyard and watch their nightly aerial displays.
As Americans, one out of every three bites of food we eat is brought to us by a pollinator. Apples, almonds, blueberries, squash, watermelon, and peppers are just a few examples of fruits and vegetables that need animal pollinators to grow and thrive. As you go throughout your meals this week, consider the pollinators it took to bring you that food.
For more information on native plants and pollinators, visit our website at SoilAndWater.co.delaware.oh.us or call us at 740-368-1921.
Sarah Kidd is the communications & outreach coordinator at the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to https://soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us/.