Written by Casey Willson, Waterkeepers Chesapeake Intern
June is pollinator month for the Clear Choices Clean Water Campaign at Waterkeepers Chesapeake and we can’t wait to share all the amazing things that our native pollinators do for us and our ecosystems! A pollinator is any insect or animal that spreads pollen from plant to plant, fertilizing them as they go. There are over 400 species of bees and 150 species of butterflies native to Maryland – these are some famous pollinators but did you know that birds, bats, moths, beetles, wasps, and flies help with pollination too? All of these critters work together to fertilize flowering plants. Native pollinators are the most efficient at doing this work as they have been specially adapted to the climate and the plants that grow here. While honey bees may be one of the most famous pollinators, they actually are not native to the United States and so may not be as effective as some of our native bees.
Unfortunately, pollinators are in decline in the Chesapeake Bay Region due in part to habitat loss and exposure to harmful chemicals used in agriculture. This decline is bad news for anyone who likes to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, not to mention flowers in their garden. When pollinators go from plant to plant and spread pollen, they are helping the plant reproduce –many plants are unable to produce any fruit without the help of pollinators. Without the help of pollinators, we would lose out on all of the plants they help to fertilize.
The good news is that we can all lend a helping hand to our pollinator pals. Native plants are by far the best option to support pollinator populations. Native plants are plants that have grown in and adapted to the Chesapeake Bay Region over thousands of years. These are the plants that are best suited to the region’s climate and ecology. Consider taking our Native Plants and Pollinators Pledge and plant some beautiful native plants in your garden today.