Pollinators play a critical role in providing food for both people and wildlife.
The ecological service they provide is necessary for the reproduction of over 85% of the world’s flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species. In just the United States, we have more than 100 crops that require/benefit from pollinators, and the economic value of these native pollinators is estimated at $3 billion per year.
Beyond agriculture, pollinators are keystone species in most terrestrial ecosystems. As pollinators move between plants looking for pollen or nectar to eat, they pick up and carry away a plant's pollen. When they move to the next plant, they fertilize that plant with the pollen, allowing the plant to reproduce and form seeds, berries, and fruits. Fruits and seeds derived from insect pollination are a major part of the diet for roughly 25% of all birds, and of mammals that range in size from small field mice to grizzly bears. Pollinators are even an important food source themselves, acting as a source of protein for countless species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
Our best-known pollinators are the honey bees, but this is actually a non-native species. Beyond the honey bee, there are 477 native bee species here in Virginia, not to mention the butterflies, flies, beetles, moths, wasps, and more that are all responsible for pollination in the commonwealth. Unfortunately, in many places all over the world the essential service of pollination is at risk from habitat loss, pesticide use, and introduced diseases.
The Colonial Pollinator Pledge is based on five simple principles: grow pollinator-friendly flowers, choose flowers that bloom all season long, provide nesting sites, avoid pesticide use whenever possible, and tell others. With these core values, pollinator conservation can be adapted to any location, whether you tend an urban community garden or a suburban yard, work in a city park or on a farm.
By taking the Colonial Pollinator Pledge, you are committing to protect pollinators by providing healthy habitat and by advocating for them. If you're looking for a way to help pollinators, the Colonial Pollinator Pledge is a good start.
I pledge to help protect pollinators by: