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How Dane County Young People Can Protect Pollinator Species

Spring and early summer is a good time to think about helping pollinator species. And you can do this right in your own backyard.

The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department is encouraging people to act to support our local pollinators. There are several steps you can take that can help. These steps include planting native plants and providing the types of habitats that pollinators need to survive and thrive.

Student reporters from Simpson Street Free Press have been studying and writing about pollinators for several years. These species are essential to our environment because about 87% of flowering plants on Planet Earth depend on pollinators.

Species like bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds are considered pollinators. These animals visit flowering plants and move pollen around in an ecosystem, which helps native plants grow and reproduce. One important part of this natural process is that it helps our food supply. About 150 food crops in the U.S. depend on pollinator species to do their work.

Among the most important of all the pollinators are bees. Bees purposefully collect pollen as a protein source for their offspring, and this makes bees very efficient pollinators. All of us see bees during the spring and summer, and it’s not too difficult to make their job easier.

In fact, there is a website available that will help you evaluate your lawn, or any spot at a school or community center. The Wisconsin Online Pollinator Habitat Assessment provides information you can use if you want to support pollinator habitat. This website is full of tips and suggestions that will help you explore and evaluate a location. It will help you look at factors like the quality of the foraging habitat, nesting habitat, and insecticide use.

One very important way to improve pollinator habitat is to plant the right kind of plants. Native plants and seeds can be purchased from local and regional plant nurseries that specialize in native plants, as well as the Wisconsin Arboretum and Plant Dane plant sales. Schools and community groups can apply to receive free native plants from Dane County. There are also several libraries in Dane County that provide free native seeds each fall so community members can plant native seeds at home. Bees and other pollinators transfer pollen from flower to flower, thus aiding plant reproduction. So, these are things you can do in your yard or your neighborhood that will help.

By learning about and understanding wild bees and other pollinator species, young people in Dane County can help protect our local environments and landscapes.

[Sources: UW-Madison; Dane County Land and Water Resources; Wisconsin DNR]

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