Have you ever wondered how we get the delicious fruits and vegetables we eat, or how flowers make their seeds? For many plants, it’s thanks to pollinators! Without pollinators, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy many of our favorite foods, like apples, watermelons, blueberries, oranges, pumpkins, almonds and even coffee.
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from one flower to another. It is what helps most plants to make fruit. If you look closely at a flower, you might be able to see its pollen. The pollen is the fine powder that is often in the center of the flower. Many creatures help transfer pollen. We call them pollinators and they are very important!
There are many different types of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and even bats. Each type of pollinator has its own unique way of pollinating flowers.
Bees are the most common. They collect pollen from flowers to feed their young. As they move from flower to flower, they transfer pollen from one flower to another.
Butterflies and hummingbirds also pollinate flowers. They use their long tongues to sip nectar from flowers. As they do this, they also pick up pollen on their bodies. When they move to another flower, they transfer the pollen.
Bats are not as well-known as pollinators, but they play an important role in pollinating some types of flowers. Bats use their echolocation to find flowers at night. Then they use their tongues to lick nectar from the flowers. As they do this, they also pick up pollen on their fur.
These creatures are essential for our food supply. Without pollinators, we would not have many of the foods that we enjoy. Almost 75% of the crops that we grow depend on pollinators!
They are important for more than just our food supply too. They also help to pollinate wild plants, which are important for the environment. Pollinators help to keep our ecosystems healthy and diverse!
Unfortunately, pollinators are in danger. Habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change are all threats to pollinators. We can all help to protect pollinators by taking simple steps to support them.
Let’s all do our part to help the secret superstars of the garden!
Here are some things you can do to help pollinators:
- Plant a pollinator-friendly garden. Choose plants that attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Be sure to include trees and shrubs to protect delicate insects like butterflies from wind and rain. Ask your local plant nursery for some recommendations for your area.
- Respect them. Let them move along undisturbed, free from harm.
- Avoid using pesticides.
- Provide water for pollinators. Leave a shallow bowl of water out for them to drink and bathe in.
- Plant native plants. Native plants are adapted to the local environment and provide food and shelter for pollinators.
- Spread the word about pollinators. Tell your friends, family, and neighbors about the importance of pollinators and what they can do to help.
Together, we can help pollinators thrive!