Vermont is home to thousands of pollinators including 275 species of bees. However, many factors are combining to threaten their numbers and Vermont recently added three species of bumble bee to its threatened and endangered species list.
What insects are pollinators?
Although species of beetles, butterflies and even hummingbirds provide pollination to plants, the vast majority in Vermont are bees—from bumble bees to leaf cutter bees.
Why are pollinators important?
Between 60 to 80 percent of wild plants in our state are dependent on animals, mostly bees, for the 'ecosystem service' of pollination. Whole communities of flowering trees, shrubs, and herbs benefit from their activities—including blueberries, blackberries, and apples.
What do we know about challenges pollinators are facing?
Pollinators are facing loss of their habitat, particularly wildflowers, to single-crop farming and development. They also face disease epidemics brought into the state by nonnative species. And pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, are killing pollinators even though they aren't the insects being targeted.
What can you do to help?
Plant a variety of showy flowers that readily attract bees and other insects. Native plants, such as goldenrod and native azalea, are the best bet along with orchard and berry plants such as apples and crabapples, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and roses. The USDA list of pollinator attracting plants can be found here.
Learn to tolerate the wildflowers and weeds growing in your lawn and fields. To a bee or butterfly that weedy flower (such as goldenrod) might just be their favorite or only source of pollen.
Use pesticide alternatives, such as pollinator-friendly barriers, to keep unwanted pests off your plants.
Purchase a habitat stamp to help Vermont Fish & Wildlife conserve and manage additional habitat for these and other species of concern.
Where I can learn more?