Habitat for Native Pollinating Insects

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 POLLINATING INSECTS Initiating a Healthy Garden Food Web

Laura Rissolo LAND PEOPLE HABITAT LLC April 22, 2015

Megan McCarty

Washington Environmental Council Harwood Lecture Series

POTENTIAL All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.

MDF: Creative Commons

—Indian proverb

Pollinators play a crucial role in seed success/ development.

COEVOLUTION Adaptations between animals and flowering plants that results in interdependence—and variety. Plants evolve elaborate ways to attract pollinating insects and dispense pollen.

Susan Elliot

Insects evolve specialized body parts to access nectar and pollen.

Native plants for native pollinators.


Chris Harrison, Manahatta Project

Pollinator Food Web 96% of terrestrial birds rear young on insects Spiders, toads, frogs/ amphibians, lizards, bats, rodents, skunks, opossums, foxes, and black bear consume insects

When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe. —John Muir

LANDSCAPE REGENERATION Plant Reproduction 80% of all vascular plants on earth are pollinated by animals 20% pollinated by wind

Our landscapes depend on pollinators.

FOOD SECURITY Bees pollinate 75% of fruits, nuts, & vegetables $57 billion economic value Native pollinators are most effective pollinators of native crops


•tomatoes •apples •pumpkins •cherries •blueberries •cranberries

People and wildlife depend on pollinators.

HONEY BEE RELIANCE Bees pollinate 75% of fruits, nuts, and vegetables

•$57 billion economic value

Significant threats to honey bees:

Charles J Sharp

•predatory mites, parasites, diseases •colony collapse •insecticides, neonictinoides


Honey bee diseases might be causing declines in native bee populations

Varroa Mites

Efforts to support native bees will also benefit honey bees.

Prairie Moon Nursery


•HABITAT LOSS •development and industrial agriculture


With the right plants, a 15’ x 15’ garden can support 150 monarchs in a single growing season.

Debivort: Creative Commons

How pollination works The process in which pollen is transferred between the reproductive parts of the same species Abiotic—wind, water Biotic—animal pollinator accounts for 80% of all pollination

Debivort: Creative Commons

How pollination works The flower is the reproductive body of the plant. It is an adaptation to attract it’s most effective pollinators. Anthers—male part supports the pollen grains Stigma—female structure that collects pollen for fertilization

Gary McDonald


Organisms that transport pollen grains from one plant to another Insects, bats, birds Adult stage of bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, ants

Plants receive the service of pollination & pollinators are rewarded with pollen and nectar


& Nectar

Protein Amino acids Lipids Vitamins Minerals Carbohydrates Dietary fiber Starch

Sugars Amino acids Volatiles Alkaloids Phenols

Eaten by bees and beetles.

Matches the energy needs of pollinators.

Pollinator Evolution

Predates the radiation of flowering plants, known as Angiosperm.

Could insect evolution have been the primary force behind angiosperm radiation?

Flower form & structure Plant animal associations formed over millions of years Flower shape accommodates pollinators—

•Flowers for hovering insects are generally pendulous and have long styles and filaments


•Flowers for bees and butterflies have landing platforms •Align with pollinator bodies to facilitate pollination •Deters pollen and nectar robbers

Bees 4000+ species of bees in North America, ~200 in CT

Don Loarie

Hairy bodies, deliberately gather pollen to bring back to nest Use flowers primarily for food— pollen and nectar Practice flower consistency Most important group of flower pollinators.

•may visit hundreds of flowers in a single foraging trip •most bees are nectar generalists

Travel from 100 ft. to a mile

Jason Gibbs

Bees Bee Flowers: •white, blue, yellow, brightly colored •strong UV patterns/spots or “nectar guides” •fragrant •have a landing surface •may have poricidal anthers for “buzz pollination” Long-tongued bees:

Use flowers primarily for food —pollen and nectar

•favor flowers with deep throats

Short-tongued bees include: •collect nectar from shallow florets

Wasps Minor pollinators •Many smooth bodied and do not collect pollen, incidental pollinators.

Pollen wasps, only family of wasps that collect pollen and nectar for young.

Judith Lopez Sikora

•Typically carnivores during larval stage

Short-tongued, utilize only shallow flowers

Butterflies Minor pollinators

Kevin Collins

David E. Hill

•long tongues—used for retrieving pollen— often allow them to bypass flower anthers

Larval stage development is host plant specific. Butterfly Flowers: •orange, red, pink, purple •tubular shape to match butterfly proboscis •flat-topped flower for landing •fragrant

Moths Jenn Forman

Important specialist pollinators

•Night blooming plants

10,000+ N. American species. Host specific caterpillars.

Cody Hough

Moth Flowers: •day moths visit flowers similar to bees (Hummingbird Clearwing) •nocturnal moths visit night-blooming flowers •yellow or white •fragrant •tubular with no landing (moths hover)

Flies Important pollinators for specific plants, frequent flower visitors Hairy bodies increase pollination Specialized Fly Flowers: •pale, dull, brown to purple in color •strong odor Canada ginger, Skunk cabbage, Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Food crops pollinated by flies: •strawberries, onions, carrots Michael Schmidt

Bee mimicry: •look like bees •pollinate Bee Flowers •sometimes parasites of bee larvae

Beetles Likely the first pollinators.

Gena Bentail

•“mess and soil” pollination, incidental pollination when eating plant/flower parts, mating, hunting

Not most effective, best on ancient flower types.

•beetles did not evolve to flower shape •important Magnolia water lily pollinators

Beetle Flowers:

•strong odor •easy access, clumsy fliers •radial or bowl shaped •reward is pollen or plant bodies

Birds Joe Schneid

Floral diversity helps to support a rich community of pollinators.

Hummingbirds are important pollinator of specific flowers. Hummingbird Flowers:

•red, orange, bright pink •no fragrance •long, tublular corolla with large amounts of nectar to provide for energy needs •larger pollen grains, sticky •no landing surface, feed while hovering

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DESIGN PRINCIPLES for attracting POLLINATORS POLLEN & NECTAR sources from April through September Plant flowers in clumps/masses 3’+ Site nearest existing habitat patches Site in mostly open, sunny locations, edges Locate near or provide nesting sites, 100’<, include bunch grasses


for managing POLLINATOR HABITAT Mow/burn only 1/3 of meadow habitats annually, different insects emerge at different times of year

Leave perennial plant material up through the winter Maintain open soil, 70% of native bees are ground nesters

Leave rotting wood and snags Avoid pesticides

Scot King


Flowering plants have a guild of co-evolved pollinators to ensure pollination. Many pollinators can collect nectar from a variety of plants.

DIVERSITY builds stability & resilience

Pollinator diversity increases with plant diversity. Target: 20+ species Structural diversity to support healthy web of life.

New Moon Nursery

New Moon Nursery


bumble bee queens, mason bees, mining bees, and flies

Silk666 Creative Commons

Maksim Creative Commons


Early forage critical to early emerging bees—

Red maple, Witchhazel, Shadblow, Flowering currant, Pussywillow, Spicebush

bumble bee queens, mason bees, mining bees, and flies



Early forage critical to early emerging bees—

SPRING EPHEMERALS: Twinleaf, Trout lily, Bloodroot, Skunk cabbage, Dutchman’s Breeches,Virginia Bluebells









Dan Mullen

Erin and Lance Willett


Flowering dogwood, Mayapple, Trillium, Pawpaw, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Golden groundsel, Dwarf crested iris

Dan Mullen George F Mayfield


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Lupine, Foxglove beardtongue, Golden Alexanders, Spiderwort, Grey dogwood

Tall coreopsis, Summersweet, Butterfly weed, Gayfeathers, Purple coneflower

Sue Mcgaw

Raffi Kojian

Peter Gorman


Peter Gorman

Phillip Merritt

Rob Curtis

Illana S.

Illana S.


Joe Pye weed, Sneezeweed, Mountain mint, Winged sumac, Great blue lobelia

Prairie Moon Nursery SB Johnny Creative Commons

Prairie Moon Nursery

Dan Mullen

KENPEI, Creative Commons


Important late season forage— new queen bumble bees

Blue wood aster, False ageratum, Bottle gentian, Showy goldenrod, Ironweed

US Fish and Wildlife

H. Zell Wikimedia Commons

Prairie Moon Nursery


Witchhazel, Brown-eyed Susan, Aromatic aster

ADDITIONAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS • nesting requirements • larval food sources

IMPORTANT HOST PLANTS • 90% of insect herbivores are host plant specialists • specially evolved to break down plant phytochemicals

Larry Mead

• usually plant family specific • 12 species of lepidoptera reproduce on milkweed

NESTING SITES • 70% of native bees are ground nesters


• Hollow stems of plants • Snags and fallen trees • Abandoned rodent nests, bunch grasses


Chris Beardshaw, Hampton Court Flower Show in 2008


• Solitary bee habitats • Insect hotels • ground nesting bee boxes

Managed Native Bees Blue Orchard Bees —Osmia lignaria Effective pollinators for early spring blooming fruit trees 5/16” diameter 3-6” deep lined

•pollinate in cold and wet weather

Visit flowers nearest the nest


•<75 flowers in a single forage trip •~60,000 blossoms in her lifetime

Solitary bees that like to build nests near one another

Managed Native Insects Bumble Bees—Bombus a queen, nesting box, and sugar water


Used commercially to pollinate greenhouse tomatoes

Flies—for carrot pollination

Bees &
 Climate Change

Prairie Moon Nursery

Researchers are finding that North American bees are adjusting their biological calendars to accommodate earlier bloom times—emerging 10 days earlier than in the 1800s.

INSECTS—“The Little Things That Run The World”



Prairie Moon Nursery

Nurseries: Prairie Moon Nursery Prairie Nursery Ernst Conservation Seed Project Native Nasami Farm Nursery Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery Rainbow’s End Butterfly Farm For more information: The Xerces Society Doug Tallamy books Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve US Forest Service

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