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Soil & Water Conservation District

POLLINATORS

Pollinator is a broad term given to organisms that pollinate the flowers of plants. Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes. They can range from well known bees, butterflies, and moths to mammals such as bats. Beetles, flies, and spiders are some lesser known insect pollinators. Nectar drinking birds can also be pollinators. The process of pollination is the reproductive phase of flowering plants.
When a plant produces a flower, it has a male organ that produces pollen called a stamen made up of the anther and filament. It also has a female organ that receives pollen called the pistil made up of the stigma, style, and ovary. Flowers have colorful, showy petals and sweet nectar to attract pollinators.
A pollinator will get pollen from one plant stuck to it’s body while drinking the flower’s nectar. When it leaves that flower and travels to another, the pollen on its body sticks to the stigma of another flower and that flower has been pollinated. The plant will then typically produce a fruiting body with a seed or seeds inside to propagate, i.e. vegetables and fruits.
Think of the variety of foods that humans consume that are a result of a fruiting body of a plant. Nearly all fruits and vegetables are produced this way. As well as foods that are made from those fruiting bodies such as chocolate. Pollinators are very important to the food industry including farmers, orchards, and grocery stores. It is estimated that pollinators contribute more than 24 billion dollars to the United States economy!
Pollinators are in trouble, though. Drastic declines in populations have scientists and researchers worried. The rusty-patched bumblebee, a once common garden inhabitant, was the first bee to be placed on the endangered species list. Soil and water districts are working with many other natural resource agencies to try to raise awareness and help restore habitat for pollinators.
Whether you have acres of farm fields or a backyard you can help be part of the solution. No effort is too small. Even little pollinator gardens have a big impact. Check out our page on planting native species for more information on what makes great pollinator habitat! Or visit some of the resources below.
There are several pollinator plots at the Chapel Hill Golf Course and with the help from Emilee Hardesty of ODNR, Division of Wildlife, we have been checking for Monarch butterflies and caterpillars.
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