Holy Cross students lend support to pollinators by planting habitat garden

Posted 5/19/21

MENDOTA – In many places, essential pollination is at risk from loss of habitat, pesticides and diseases. Several groups in Mendota have found ways to help.

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Holy Cross students lend support to pollinators by planting habitat garden


MENDOTA – In many places, essential pollination is at risk from loss of habitat, pesticides and diseases. Several groups in Mendota have found ways to help.

Graves-Hume Public Library, along with support from Friends of the Library, has started a Pollinator Pocket garden. The garden near the entrance to the library now has native plants that help support pollinators. The garden is based on the Pocket Garden idea from the University of Illinois Extension.

The fifth graders in Laura Doyle’s class at Holy Cross School in Mendota helped plant and water the garden on May 14. Anyone interested in starting their own small pollinator garden can find more information at: https://extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/pollinator-pockets. At this website you can also see a map of Pollinator Pocket gardens throughout the state.

The Mendota Garden Club and community volunteers started a larger pollinator garden located behind the soccer fields at Lake Kakusha. Volunteers prepared the spot and planted 79 native plants to attract pollinators. This garden is listed with the Xerces Society https://www.xerces.org/bring-back-the-pollinators where helping pollinators is encouraged through four steps:

  1. Grow a variety of bee-friendly flowers that bloom from spring through fall.
  2. Protect and provide bee nests and caterpillar host plants.
  3. Avoid using pesticides, especially insecticides.
  4. Talk to my neighbors about the importance of pollinators and their habitat.

Environmental problems often seem to need big solutions, but a small garden, along with many other small gardens, can help give food, nest sites and habitat to essential animals – pollinators. More than two-thirds of the world’s crop species require pollination by insects. The economic value of pollinating insects in the United States alone is estimated at $3 billion. Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are key species in all ecosystems, as animals also rely on the fruit and plants that come from pollinated plants.

Pollinator Month

June is National Pollinator Month. It’s the perfect time to learn who these pollinators are and why we should care about their well-being. Pollinators are animals that move pollen from one flower to another so that the plants can produce fruits and seeds. Most pollinators are insects, including bees, wasps, butterflies, flies, ants, and beetles.

While most of these creatures are small, they are very important. Without pollinators, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy many of the foods we eat. We’d also lose many food plants that are grown from seed, since without pollination the plants can’t produce the seeds needed to grow more plants. In fact, it’s estimated that one out of every three mouthfuls we eat depends on bee pollination. Honeybees and other insect pollinators contributed, either directly or indirectly, to almost $30 billion in crops in 2010. Also, over 75% of all flowering plants are pollinated by insects and other animals. Pollinators are vital links in the web of life.

Meet the Pollinators

While not native to North America, honeybees are important pollinators of agricultural crops in this country. Both wild and managed honeybee colonies now play a vital role in our food production. Native bees are also important pollinators. There are over 4,000 species of native bees in the U.S. found in all habitats, and over 200 species have been found in Illinois. Important pollinators of apple trees, bumblebees also help pollinate crops such as blueberries, tomatoes, and squash, as well as many wildflowers. Bumblebees are very efficient pollinators because they work long hours, flying all summer long from early in the morning until late in the day. Butterflies, moths, flies, and beetles pollinate flowers, which are also very important to many animals and humans.

Cause for Concern

Now here’s the scary part: honeybees and native bees are in trouble. Populations of both are in sharp decline due to pesticide use, disease and parasite problems, and loss of food and nesting habitat. More than one-quarter of the bumblebee species are threatened or have disappeared. Many kinds of butterflies and other wild pollinators are also in jeopardy. This is why it’s so important to learn about and do all we can to protect all kinds of pollinators. Plants need pollinators – and we need plants.

Planting to

Help Pollinators

A great way for gardeners to help pollinators is by planting pollinator-friendly gardens and landscapes. Include a wide variety of flowering plants for blooms from spring to fall to provide nectar and pollen to feed on all season long. In addition to flowering plants, many flowering trees and shrubs are important sources of food for pollinators, especially early in the season. Place flowering plants in drifts, groups of at least three plants. Planting in clumps of one species makes it easier for pollinators to locate plants.