Jaret Daniels and His Charismatic Pollinators

Jaret Daniels PhD
 Jaret Daniels is assistant professor of entomology at the University of Florida and assistant curator of lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History. He also established the Florida Butterfly Monitoring Network and has worked to address declines in the endangered Miami blue butterfly.

Jaret was a speaker at the 2012 FNPS conference in Plant City, FL. I'd heard him speak twice before, but Jaret has so much information to share that there is always something new to learn or a different way of viewing ecological problems in our landscapes.

Charismatic Pollinators

He urged us to approach landscape conservation from an economic viewpoint and to emphasize the Charismatic Pollinators—butterflies and bees. 70% flowering plants need pollinators, including more than 100 crops worth more than $20 billion/year.

Native pollinators are filling the gaps left by colony collapse disorder for honeybees. Unlike the European honeybees that are highly managed and carried to specific crops that need pollination, the native pollinators tend to stay local in an environment.

Beyond agriculture pollinators are keystone species in terrestrial ecosystems and are inherently tied to native plants in the landscape. Especially important are the larval food sources. 70% of the native pollinators are ground nesters and 30% are cavity nesters. Brush piles in the landscape are good for both types of nesting bees.

It doesn’t take a lot of money or effort to grow the flowers the bees can use. Plan to have plants blooming throughout the season and grow them without pesticides. Use ecotype Florida seed very important so the flowering comes at the right time for the native bees.

Operation Pollinator

Work at University of Florida includes strategies to maintain roadsides or other utility corridors for bee movement. Also, Operation Pollinator, a cooperative effort between three universities with one of the goals of enhancing agricultural field margins. The project was begun in 2010 in Michigan, Florida, and California. The first phase was to test different regionally adapted flowering native plant mixes, to assess the cost and ease of establishment, and their attractiveness to wild pollinators.

In Florida, Blanketflower (Gaillardia pulchella) was shown to be the top attractant for bees. And it's one of the easiest wildflowers to grow. Other top flowers for bees are Goldenmane Tickseed or Dyeflower (Coreopsis basalis), Lanceleaf Tickseed (C. lanceolata), Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Dotted Horsemint (Monarda punctata), Leavenworth’s Tickseed (C. leavenworthii), Ironweed (Vernonia spp.), and Narrowleaf Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius).

They found that native flowers attracted two to four times the butterflies, but five to fifty times (average nineteen times) more bees.

Tilling the soil is devastating to native bees. In agriculture the enhanced margins must stay in place. So the farmers they worked with left the wildflower plots unplowed for multiple years to allow the bees to burrow.

Tropical Milkweed

The last item Jaret spoke about was the non-native tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), sold in many nurseries provides nectar and host plant material for monarch butterflies and others, but tropical milkweed year round in many parts of Florida and this can result in a protozoan disease that infects monarchs and other milkweed feeders. In colder climates, the milkweed dies back each year. Infested monarchs living year-round on the tropical milkweed may breed with migrating populations, possibly jeopardizing the migration.

So this is another reason to stick to native plants in your butterfly gardens.

It was a pleasure to talk with Jaret after his presentation. He said he loves speaking to groups like FNPS, because it gets him out of the office. He also said that he might write a couple of guest blog posts for us. Won't that be great??

Jaret's field guide is an important
resource for butterfly gardeners.
Purchase your copy own here.


For more info on Operation Pollinator see: http://pollinator.org/
Miami blue butterfly: http://www.ufl.edu/2009/02/06/jaret-daniels/
Community-wide butterfly landscaping: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep420
All the EDIS articles written by Jaret Daniels: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_a42656461
Founder and director of the Florida Monitoring Network website: http://www.flbutterflies.net/

Ginny Stibolt


Anonymous said…
Growing native milkweed is a challenge for me. I wonder if anyone has some hints.

When I lived in LA there was lots of Asclepias tuberosa up and down 739, orange and yellow. Is any still there?


Popular posts from this blog

Australian Pine: One of Florida's Least Wanted

Tropical Milkweed is Harmful to Monarchs & Florida Ecosystems

Native Trees and Plants You Will See Nearly Everywhere in Florida