Businesses and homeowners can plant plants and flowers that help pollinators thrive. (Virginia Carter)
Springfield, Ill. — The monarch butterfly population has declined by 90 percent over the last 20 years because of pesticides, parasites and loss of habitat. They’re considered a sentinel species, whose fate mirrors that of many insects.
An effort has been under way to expand all pollinators’ range by creating 1 million pollinator gardens by the end of the year.
The National Pollinator Garden Network has registered 650,000 gardens across the U.S. designed to attract bees and butterflies.
Mary Phillips, senior director with the National Wildlife Federation’s “Garden for Wildlife” program, said it gives people a daily connection to the natural world, whether they create a garden in the city or the country.
“Monarchs are something people identify. It’s an iconic butterfly that many of us have experienced in our childhood,” Phillips said.
“So that’s been an amazing motivator to get people to focus and engage around the pollinator issue.”
In Illinois, some examples of pollinator plants include asters, bee balm, native roses, purple coneflower, blazing stars, beard tongue, bellflowers, hollyhocks, snapdragons, sunflowers, foxglove, mints, goldenrod, larkspur and milkweed.
Nine-year-old Pennsylvania boy, Kedar Narayan created a cell phone app – a game called “Pollinator for a Pet” – to teach people about native-plant pollinator gardens. He said kids have a big role to play in this effort.
“Without our pollinators, we wouldn’t have our crops. And lawns, they destroy the pollinator habitats, and lawns just kind of pollute everything – even the environment,” Narayan said. “And our weed killers, they pollute the air and our water.”
The National Wildlife Federation said one-third of the food Americans eat is pollinated by bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and certain birds and bats – a cycle that accounts for $29 billion of the nation’s food production.
Press Release Courtesy of Illinois News Connection