A bee lands on a flower. Photo by Valerie Blaine.
Bugs. They seem to be everywhere, right? Buzzing around gardens and other natural areas, or sometimes even your dinner as you try to enjoy a summer picnic outside. While it may seem there is an abundance of them, not all bugs are thriving as of lately. Populations of pollinators across the world are suffering. According to the National Wildlife Federation, habitat loss, invasive species, and pesticides are just a few of the reasons why our tiny friends are disappearing. But there’s good news! Luckily, there are many ways you can help our local pollinators to thrive in your very own garden.
Build a bee house. Although it may sound silly, bees need a place to live too! Yes, the most familiar type of bee, the honey bee, live in a honeycomb but there are actually many species of bees who don’t! By constructing small structures, you’re giving a bee a safe place to lay their eggs or hibernate, as they normally lay them in tunnels they carve into wood. These houses can also be an adorable addition to your garden!
Plant pollinator-friendly species. There are a variety of plants that pollinators love, and you’ll love too for their beauty! Pollinators need pollen and nectar as a source of food but also as a shelter from predators for them and their young. To build an inclusive garden good for all pollinators, plant native species. Research on what plants attract which pollinators to offer a variety for every species and for you to enjoy. For example, Black-Eyed Susans are known to attract bees, while Monarch butterflies love Milkweed!
A Milkweed plant
Avoid or limit the use of pesticides. For pollinators, pesticides are bad news. While they can control any unwanted weeds, pesticides can also harm our tiny flying friends. Consider other pest control options that are much friendlier to your garden and the pollinators in it. There are certain natural pesticide options, such as vinegar or essential oils that will not affect or harm pollinators in any way, so consider using these the next time there is a pest problem in your backyard.
Get involved. Spreading the word to others about taking care of our pollinators is one of the best ways to support them. There are plenty of volunteer positions with the Kane County Forest Preserve that aid in preserving our beautiful, local wildlife.
Attend National Pollinators Week! During the week of June 17- June 23, the Forest Preserve District will be a part of the international celebration of Pollinator Week. We will be highlighting the valuable ecosystem services provided by our local insects, mammals, birds, and other many pollinators. Check out the many fun activities throughout the week, including pop-up naturalist tents at different forest preserves, the Monarchs and Milkweed Festival (free pollinator-friendly milkweed plants while supplies last!) and self-guided activities at the nature center. Celebrate the pollinators that make our ecosystems thrive!