Gardening For Pollinators And Beneficial Insects

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Gardening for Pollinatorsand Beneficial InsectsResources for the Home Gardener

Table of ContentsClick on section nameWhat is a pollinator?Why choose native plants?Meet your native VermontpollinatorsMake your garden invitingWhat is causing pollinatordecline?What can you do to help?What is a beneficial insect?Bring in the right plantsWorking with what you haveWhere to buy native VermontplantsHelpful resourcesMore information

What is a pollinator?Pollinators are animals thatfertilize plants by carrying pollenfrom one plant to another.Insects (bees, butterflies, flies,hoverflies, moths, wasps) as wellas some birds and bats arepollinators.Pollinators and other insects arecrucial to the interdependent foodweb. We— and so many otherspecies— literally cannot livewithout them.Beyond providing food for largeranimals, pollinators are integral inagriculture. One out of everythree bites you eat is thanks tothe efforts of pollinators.However, our native pollinatorsare in grave danger.Source: Donna Thomas and Cindy Heath, Master Gardeners,“Prestigious Pollinators.”Cat Buxton, Master Composter and Margaret D Solon andSusan Still, Master Gardeners, “Growing a Pollinator Garden”

Meet your native Vermont pollinatorsHoverflies, butterflies and moths—meet some native Vermont pollinators.Syrphid flyAcadian hairstreakHummingbird clearwing mothThe majority of pollinators in Vermont are bees. Did youknow that the honeybee is not native to the UnitedStates? While honeybees are indeed struggling, they’re notin danger of extinction. But many of our native bees are.Let’s pay some attention to our native pollinators.Common Eastern bumblebeeSilky striped sweat beeCarlin’s mining beeWant more bees? Check out this guide.Sources: Cat Buxton, Master Composter and Margaret D Solon and Susan Still, Master Gardeners, “Growing aPollinator Garden”Vermont Center for Ecological Studies, Vermont Wild Bee GuideUniversity of Minnesota Bee Lab, “Managed Bees Impact on Native Populations”

What is causing pollinator decline?There are many factors.Climate change: Bees areemerging from hibernationearlier, but the flowers theyneed haven’t caught up.Pesticides in agriculture andhome gardening: Manypesticides kill everything,including pollinators.Invasive plants: The spread ofinvasive plants chokes outnative plants which havecoevolved with pollinators.Landscape fragmentation:Pollinator habitat is shrinking.Light Pollution: Artificial lightscan disorient moths and hinderpollination.Parasites: On top of all of this,parasites are threatening nativebees.But you can help!Source: Donna Thomas and Cindy Heath, Master Gardeners,“Prestigious Pollinators.”Cat Buxton, Master Composter and Margaret D Solon andSusan Still, Master Gardeners, “Growing a Pollinator Garden”

What can you do to help?Pollinator decline feels so overwhelming, but thereare some solutions that are within your control.The best thing you can do is encourage beneficialinsects and garden for pollinators!Gardening for pollinators is an easy win for:Your gardenThe food webAnyone who eats!

What is a beneficial insect?Beneficial insects are insects that prey upon several gardenpests such as thrips, aphids and small caterpillars.Skip the bottle. Go for natural pest control!Meet the InsectsThe Lady BeetleThe Soldier BeetleYou may know this as a ladybugAttract them with yellow flowersThe Syrphid FlyThe larvae consumes pests and the adultpollinates flowersSource: Cheryl Frank Sullivan, Ph.D. andMargaret Skinner, Ph.D. “Bringing inUn-BEE-lievable Beneficials”

Bring in the right plantsSupport a wide variety ofpollinators! Choose a minimum of 10native plants and plant them inclumps. This way pollinatorswon’t have to travel far for theirfavorites. Plant for a range of bloomtimes— early, mid and lateseason. Aim for at least threetypes of plant per growingseason. Have a wide variety of flowercolors and shapes. Pollinatorshave their favorite colors, too! Don’t forget native bunchinggrasses. Insects love the habitatthey provide. Check out this pollinatorpalette. It’s great for helpingyou pick your plants!Source: Jane Sorensen, Instructor, “HomesteadPollinator Habitat Enhancement Planning”

Why choose native plants?Go native!Pollinators need more than nectar(food) to flourish. Host plants thatprovide nesting sites and protectionare also key for each stage of theinsect's life.Since native plants have coevolvedwith native pollinators, they providethe best support and are the mostattractive throughout the life cycle ofpollinators.For example, the endangered KarnerBlue Butterfly caterpillar can only eatnative wild lupines. And the muchbeloved butterfly bush? It onlyprovides nutrition for adultbutterflies— and nothing forcaterpillars.Plus, native plants are suited to ourenvironment. Once established, theyoften need little care.Source: Madeline Chamberlain, Master Gardener intern,“Native Plants for Native Pollinators”

Make your garden invitingNow that you’ve chosen some good, nectar-richplants, you’ll need some other features to create acomfortable spot for pollinators. Pithy or hollow-stemmedplants such as raspberry,sumac or elderberries makegood nesting sites. Some pollinators areground nesters. If youhave sandy areas, leavethem clear. Make sure there’s a nearbywater source; insects getthirsty. Consider making amini wildlife pond out of astylish container. Don’t be too tidy! Keepnatural cover for insects.Let your grass grow longer,leave piles of leaves, twigsand dead stalks out toshelter pollinating insectsover the winter. Remember— insect damage is a good thing!Source: Jane Sorensen, Instructor, “Homestead Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Planning”

Working with what you haveYou don’t need a large pollinator garden to be agood host for insects! Watch bee boxes & bughotels for predatorsCheck bee boxes & bug hotelsfrequently to see if the box isstill doing its job. Addhardware cloth to preventinvasion by birds. Plant tall grassesThese provide excellent coverfor insects. Tuck in native plantswhere you canEvery native plant helps. Avoid pesticidesMany kill good bugs, too. Plant a pollinator strip inyour vegetable bedsInterplant vegetables withplants to support pollinators.Chicago Botanical Garden:Pollinator Strips Plant a bee lawnOverseed your grass withnectar-rich clover. Plus,clover is actually great foryour lawn’s health! And thosedandelions? Bees love them.

Where to buy native Vermont plantsMiller Hill FarmSudburyTrees, shrubs and perennials.Miller Hill FarmThe Farm BetweenSterling College, JeffersonvilleNative offerings are mostly treesand shrubsThe Farm BetweenNortheast Pollinator PlantsBuy online here (NEPP only shipsto New England and New York)Or buy in person at River BerryFarm in FairfaxNative Plant TrustNasami Farm, Whately, Mass(Also in Framingham, Mass)Native Plant TrustTurtle Hill Native PlantsMontpelierNative perennial flowers andgrasses.Turtle Hill Native PlantsVermont Wildflower FarmNative seeds and plants, shippingfrom Vermont. They offerregional seed mixes.Vermont Wildflower FarmPrairie Moon NurseryExtensive, open pollinatedofferings, shipping fromMinnesotaPrairie Moon

Helpful ResourcesInformation on native Vermont plantsPollinator Plant Palette ChartLady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant DatabaseNative Plant Trust Plant FinderInformation on pollinator friendly garden planningHomestead Pollinator Habitat GuidelinesGrowing a Pollinator Garden, a presentation by UVM Master GardenersMt. Cuba Trial GardenEncouraging Pollinators in Vegetable GardensImproving Pollinator Habitat in HOAsHow to Build a Mini Pond to Support InsectsPollinator Syndrome Chart (i.e. which types of plants attract which pollinators)Information on pollinators and beneficial insectsVermont Wild Bee SurveyHow to Attract and Identify PollinatorsAttracting Beneficial Insects to Reduce Pests NaturallyXerces SocietyPollinator PartnershipPollinator PathwayCourses on supporting pollinatorsUVM Community Horticulture courses, including the self-paced course called“Creating Pollinator Friendly Landscapes in Vermont” by Jane SorensenCertify your backyard as a Wildlife HabitatVermont Natural Resources Council

More InformationAbout the UVM Extension Master Gardener ProgramThe UVM Extension Master Gardener Program trains volunteersand uses research-based gardening information to help allVermonters improve their gardening, leadership, andenvironmental stewardship skills.Our vision is to cultivate resilient and healthy communitiesand be the most trusted resource for home gardeners.Click here for more informationContributors to this E-BookKaren Burke, Master GardenerCat Buxton, Master ComposterMadeline Chamberlain, Master Gardener InternNicole Conte, Master GardenerFrank Guyer-Geier, Master GardenerCindy Heath, UVM Extension StaffBecky Manning, Master GardenerJulie Parker-Dickerson, Master GardenerMargaret Solon, Master GardenerDaniel Steinbauer, Master GardenerSusan Still, Master GardenerPhoto CreditsMadeline Bergstrom: Pages 3, 10, 12Peter Bergstrom: Pages 2, 6Madeline Chamberlain: Page 8Bob Little Tree: Page 11Julie Parker-Dickerson: Front cover, pages 3, 5, 9, 11 and back coverInsect photos on page 4: University of Maine Home and Garden IPM FromCooperative Extension: J F Dill. Danny Bales, David L.Kinney. Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Vermont Atlas of Life: Roy Pilcher, MargaritaMiklasevskaja, Michael VeitInsect photos on page 7: University of Minnesota Extension: Eric Burkness, Jeff Hahn.US Forest Service: Steven Falk


pollinators. Pollinators and other insects are crucial to the interdependent food web. We— and so many other species— literally cannot live without them. Beyond providing food for larger animals, pollinators are integral in agriculture. One out of every three bites you eat is thanks to the efforts of pollinators. However, our native pollinators

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