How CA Protects and Nurtures Pollinator Habitats
Guest Post by Natalie Yee, CA Environmental Program Manager
Happy spring! As the days grow warmer, you may start to see more pollinators out and about:
- Even wind!
If you enjoy foods like apples, avocados or blueberries, you have a pollinator to thank! In fact, pollination is crucial to our survival as a human race. It might sound extreme, but it’s true. Pollination (the transfer of pollen from one plant to another) is crucial for plant reproduction, which keeps humans and animals alive.
How CA nurtures pollinators
Unfortunately, the number of pollinators is decreasing at an alarming rate. Here are some of the top reasons for the pollinator decline:
- Habitat loss (primary reason for the decline)
- Pollinators need spaces with vegetation and flowering plants to thrive, so when much of the land is used for other purposes (agriculture, houses, etc.), it limits the amount of pollinator habitat.
- Non-native species
- Non-native species are harmful for a number of reasons. In this case, non-native plants may attract pollinators away from native species that are more nutritious and a better food source. This further propagates non-native plants in the area and diminishes native species chance for reproduction.
- Pesticides intended for other insects or animals may inadvertently affect pollinators as well. Additionally, the effects of some pesticides may remain in the environment for an extended period, affecting multiple generations of pollinators.
- Some herbicides may kill the plants that the pollinators use to forage.
- Climate change
- Flowering plants may start to grow farther north or not at all in response to the warming temperatures, which can confuse pollinators.
- Parasites and diseases
- A number of parasites and diseases can harm pollinators, and the presence and spread of them is enhanced because of globalization.
To protect pollinators, CA is proactive about planting pollinator gardens in our open space. At the moment, we’re excited about a new one that’s being planted north of Cradlerock Way. This project is a way to combat some of the invasive species found in the area, such as miscanthus.
CA also supports Howard County’s Bee City-USA mission, which is raising awareness about the importance of native bees and other pollinators and their vital role in healthy ecosystems and educating communities about how they can create and sustain healthy habitat for pollinators that are rich in a variety of native plants and free to nearly free of pesticides.
You can help, too!
Anyone can help support pollinators here in Columbia. Here are some simple ideas:
- Create a pollinator garden in your yard
- A pollinator garden is an area with native plants that pollinators enjoy. These plants supply pollen and nectar that pollinators thrive off of. Some varieties to start with include Whitewood Aster, Joe Pye Weed, Red Columbine and Scarlet Bee Balm.
- Be cautious of the pesticides you use
- Use only the absolute minimal amount to reduce the risk of adverse effects pesticides will have on pollinators (bees particularly).
- Read labels carefully, and use the product properly.
- Spray at night when most pollinators are not active.
- Create bee nesting places
- Creating habitat for bees will encourage them to stick around! Here’s a helpful guide to making a “bee condo.”
- Spread the word
- Knowledge is power, so anything that can help inform others about the importance of pollinators is helpful.