Attracting backyard butterflies, bees, and birds
Celebrate National Pollinator Week- June 17-23, 2019 and plant a paradise for pollinators in your yard!
Florida crops like watermelon, cucumber, blueberry, and strawberry depend on pollinating insects for abundant, high quality fruit. Many wild plants that provide wildlife habitat, erosion control and oxygen are also insect-pollinated. Native and managed pollinators like honey bees are under pressure from threats like habitat loss, parasites, and pesticides. Florida’s pollinators include bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, as well as many flies, ants, wasps, and beetles.
You can help pollinators
We need pollinators, and pollinators need our help. It’s important to protect large habitats like ranches, conservation lands and parks that provide flowering plants and nesting sites, but our smaller urban ecosystems (including your backyard) can also provide valuable pollinator habitat. Having a landscape with butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds is better than watching the Nature Channel. Make your own show; phone cameras allow even amateurs to capture great photos and videos!
Re-think your pesticide use
Before you use any pesticide, correctly identify the problem and an appropriate treatment. Pesticides applied “just in case” can waste money, kill beneficial pollinators, and cause pesticide resistance. Avoid using landscape products that combine herbicides, insecticides, or fertilizers. It’s easy to over-apply pesticides this way, or use pesticides when you may not need them. If you hire companies for landscape or home pest management services, ask what they are applying and why.
European Honey Bees are important crop pollinators here and are the only bees in North America that can be managed for honey production. Support our local beekeepers by buying honey directly from beekeepers. Learn about beekeeping at our upcoming classes.
Plants for pollinators
The more species of landscape plants you have, the more types of pollinators and birds you can support. To reduce risks to pollinators, buy plants that have not been treated with pesticides. Below are a few of my favorite plants for pollinators; some are common and others you may find at local plant sales and native nurseries.
- Native Hollies (e.g. Ilex cassine, Ilex vomitoria) – male trees have more nectar/pollen for pollinating insects, female trees have fruits that many birds eat.
- Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) – easy to manage, native, climbing vine adds beauty, butterflies and hummingbirds to an arbor or fence.
- Native Milkweeds (e.g. Asclepias tuberosa, Asclepias humistrata) – provide nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies, bees; the only type of plant that Monarch Butterfly caterpillars eat. Monarch Butterflies in Central Florida have declined 80% since 2005.
- Starry Rosinweed Silphium asteriscus and Florida Greeneyes Berlandiera subacaulis –wildflowers that stay tidy and provide yellow blooms for bees and butterflies.
- Native Pawpaws (e.g. Asimina pygmea, Asimina obovata) – exotic-looking flowers; the only plants that Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars will eat.
- Wild pennyroyal Piloblephis rigida –delicate, low-growing, mint-scented plant that attracts bees and butterflies.
Learn more; find plants: