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Previously in Part 2 of Deciphering Our Organic World we talked about open-pollination and its role in the genetic diversity of plants on our planet. Pollinators are a major part of that open-pollination, thus are absolutely vital to the survival of all life on Earth. In case you weren’t thinking it was that important, over 80% of all flowering plants require pollinators in order to produce seeds. This includes plants that make up our food supply, and the plants that feed our animals!
What Kinds of Pollinators Exist?
There are many types of pollinators that do this vital work. Bees (like honeybees and bumblebees) do the majority of the pollination for most plants. They are by far not the only ones.
Hoverflies are the second-most important pollinators of flowering plants across the world.
Some species of solitary, hunting and predatory wasps pollinate in the process of looking for food and mating.
Bee flies pollinate certain kinds of flowers with their long probosces.
Certain species of butterflies, moths, ants, beetles, thrips, and midges also are responsible for pollination.
Finally, animals can be pollinators too! Those that sip nectar, like hummingbirds and honeyeaters, bats, as well as other small vertebrates like rodents, possums, lizards, monkeys and lemurs all pollinate.
Interactions of Plants & Pollinators
The interaction of plants and their pollinators can be quite complicated. Some plants mimic the male or female counterparts and attract pollinators with the promise of a mate that is never actually there. Other plants mimic pheremones of prey to attract hunting insect species. Still others mimic shapes and colors that are attractive for a potential pollinator.
What is Killing Our Pollinators?
So, what do we have to protect our pollinators from? Mainly, a group of insecticides called Neonicotinoids, which are a systemic nerve toxin for insects. This type of insecticide doesn’t discriminate between insects that you don’t want in your garden and insects that you do want to have there. They kill almost ALL insects. They linger in pollen, nectar, roots and leaves for pollinators to find long after spraying. They can even remain in the soil for many years after spraying. Neonicotinoids have been linked to CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder, in some studies. Because of this, the EU has restricted their usage. Below is an info panel on Neonicotinoids (yes, based on science, not hype!).
How can we help?
Simply, do not use chemical insecticides in the garden. There are many organic methods for insect control that, when applied correctly, are just as effective and are not harmful to beneficial insect pollinators. Neonicotinoids go by names such as Imadacloprid, Clothianidin, and more. Here is a well-referenced Wiki article on this class of chemicals: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neonicotinoid
We have lots of options for organic pest control available at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply. Please stop by and we will help you get what you need!
Next time we will talk about pollinator food sources and habitats, and how we can supply these very easily for our pollinator friends.
Marissa, Director of Communications
Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.