It's Pollinator Week!
In recognition and appreciation of the oodles of diverse species that serve as pollinators, we’re going to take a look at a few of them over the coming week. We’ll kick it off tomorrow with fun facts about one of the most adorable, zippy and territorial of little birds – the ruby-throated hummingbird.
Pollinators are essential to the life cycle of plants, serving to provide us one out of every three bites of food, according to Pollinator Partnership, which states, “They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.”
How do pollinators do it? It’s a pretty simple system: They visit a plant, typically to slurp up some nectar from a blossom. When this happens, they pick up pollen, which is then carried to the next flower they visit, thereby transferring genetic material and supporting the reproductive life of individual plant species.
This simple process is increasingly imperiled, according to Pollinator Partnership.
“Many pollinator populations are in decline and this decline is attributed most severely to a loss in feeding and nesting habitats. Pollution, the misuse of chemicals, disease, and changes in climatic patterns are all contributing to shrinking and shifting pollinator populations. In some cases there isn’t enough data to gauge a response, and this is even more worrisome,” the nonprofit organization states on its website.
How can you help? Bring beautiful, beneficial pollinators to your space and keep them there by providing an enticing habitat. Choose a variety of native plants so your yard has blossoms throughout the seasons, establish masses of specific plant species, avoid pesticide use, and provide habitat for nesting.
If you’re interested in doing more, you also can serve as an iNaturalist citizen scientist and help collect pollinator data during Pollinator Week, June 21–27. The nature app has a number of Pollinator Week projects that participants can support by uploading observations of pollinators. Here are few.
Pollinator Week 2021 – Pollinator Bioblitz is a North American project hosted by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign’s Urban Pollinator Taskforce.
Pollinators of Canaveral Bioblitz 2021 is a targeted project focused on documenting pollinator species at Canaveral National Seashore. Located on the Atlantic side of the state, the national park is between Titusville and New Smyrna Beach.
Florida Wildflower Foundation is also asking citizen scientists to record their observations of pollinators – and prizes are involved! Visit 2021 Florida Pollinator Week Challenge to learn more.
Pollinator Week, initiated and managed by Pollinator Partnership, takes place every June. It began 14 years ago when the U.S. Senate unanimously approved designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” to address declining pollinator populations. Since then, the week annually has raised awareness of the importance of these creatures and grown into an international celebration.
By Laura Bennett-Kimble, Florida Native Plant Society member-at-large