Pollinators are essential for both native habitats and agricultural systems. A diversity of pollinators means that a diversity of wild and domesticated plants are able to reproduce. Recent reports of the decline in pollinator populations raises concern for native plant diversity, ecosystem stability, and food production. The loss of pollinators is caused by a combination of several circumstances: habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticide use, increased diseases, invasive species, and climate change.
Most pollinators are attracted to plants because they receive food in the form of nectar or pollen from the flower. Pollinating, or moving pollen from flower to flower, is not directly important to the pollinator. However, movement of pollen helps to mix the genetic material of the plant species. Most flowering species require pollination to grow viable seeds and fruits. Just like the plants in your garden need pollination to produce beans or peppers, native plants need pollination to make sunflower seeds or blackberries. Pollinators help plants maintain genetic diversity and boost reproduction in both native and domesticated plant populations.
The honey bee is the most iconic pollinator on Earth, but it can’t do the work alone. Native pollinators are necessary to pollinate the diversity of our native plants. We need all these little animals – butterflies, wasps, bees, flies, beetles, ants, moths – to help the thousands of plant species that make up our native habitats.