Whether you prefer birds or honeybees, or other pollinators, there are many ways you can help pollinators thrive by enhancing native pollinator habitats and providing for local wildlife. Here are a few things you can do to help pollinators in your own backyard:
- Pollinators start out as larvae (moth and butterfly caterpillars). Larvae need to eat in order to grow into mature pollinators. In the mid-Atlantic region, native oaks, willows, birches, black cherries, pines, and poplars provide food for the greatest number of butterflies and moths. If you grow these native trees, a few holes in their leaves means you’re a success at feeding pollinators! Goldenrods, asters, perennial sunflowers, bee balm, and Joe Pye weed are significant to the food web in supporting many different kinds of insects.
- Eliminate pesticides. Nestlings of most bird species are primarily fed insects. To raise a single brood of chickadees, 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars are needed.
- Plant flowers that are native to your area and provide nectar and food for insects, such as milkweed for monarchs.
- Design your garden so that there is a continuous succession of plants flowering from spring through fall. Check for the species or cultivars best suited to your area and gradually replace lawn grass with flower beds.
- Provide water for butterflies by burying a shallow plant saucer to its rim in a sunny area. A dripping faucet or a suspended milk carton with a pinhole in the bottom is even sufficient for some insects.
Data provided by the Pollinator Partnership and Doug Tallamy