Protect Pollinators from Pesticides

April 4, 2021

What is Pollination?

Pollination is a reproductive process in where pollen is transferred from the male part of plant to the female part. This is an essential part of seed production. In flowering plants, animals often assist in the pollination process by transporting pollen from one flower to another.

Who are pollinators?

Pollinators are attracted to flowering plants for their nectar, which is an important food source. Flowering plants can attract different species of pollinators based on their flower’s colors, scent, shape, and location. Pollinators transport pollen by trapping pollen on their bodies and carrying it to other flowers that they feed on. (Ever seen a bee with a yellow clump on its leg? That’s pollen!) The main groups of pollinators are insects and include bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, and flies. Other animals, like birds and bats can be pollinators, but insects make up the largest and most important pollinator groups. Bees in particular are a very important insect pollinator group.

Bee pollinator

A bee pollinating a flower

What is hurting Pollinators?

In recent years, pollinator species, most notably bees, numbers have been declining. Habitat loss is one reason for the decline. Destruction of areas containing plants that attract pollinators limits food sources for pollinators. Development and urbanization can increase the distances pollinators have to travel to adequate nutrition

Pesticide use is another factor harming pollinator numbers. Herbicides can destroy plants that attract pollinators. Insecticides used to control pests including disease vectors, biting insects and agricultural pests can also negatively affect pollinator species. Some insecticides and herbicides can persist in the soil for months after application, and move through the plants to the buds later, which can hurt pollinators even if application occurs before flowers bloom. While not all pesticide types are fatal to pollinator species, they can still have negative effects on them. In honeybees, for example, some pesticides can negatively affect their communication, which interferes with how colonies work together.

What can you do?

Planting native plants that attract pollinators can help boost pollinator population numbers. In lawns, not mowing as often and letting some weeds and clover bloom can also attract pollinators. This can be done throughout your entire yard or only in some sections. Limiting or avoiding pesticide use in your yard can also help by decreasing the amount of pesticides introduced to the environment. Many pests can be controlled without the use of pesticides. If an infestation requires the use of pesticides, try and choice a product that will be the least harmful to pollinator populations.

Post by: Emily Elkonoh

2 comments on "Protect Pollinators from Pesticides"

  1. Don says:

    I am a bee keeper. I want to know if I can safely use Iron based weed killers on my lawn without harming my bees?

    1. Barbara Coppola says:

      I also want to know if iron chelate (Fiesta brand) herbicides on lawn near my native plants for butterflies will have a harmful effect on them?

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