Protecting Our Pollinators in the Landscape

Bumble bee. Photo David Cappaert, Bugwood.org.

Bees, butterflies and other insects play important roles as pollinators in our environment. Over 50 major crops in the United States and at least 13 crops in Florida depend on honey bees. Many native plants in natural areas also depend on insect pollinators for reproduction. In Florida, over 300 bee species play a role in pollination!

Many factors affect the health of our pollinators. One of those factors we can easily control in our own landscapes is exposures to pesticides. How are bees and other pollinators exposed to pesticides? Here are some of the major routes:

  • Drift of pesticides sprayed in breezy/windy conditions
  • The erosion of contaminated topsoil blowing in the wind
  • Direct feeding on pollen and nectar of treated plants
  • Contact with pesticides that have blown onto plant surfaces
  • Contact with water transpired by leaves of treated plants
  • Pesticides that move down through the soil to affect ground dwelling bees and other insects

Did you know that bees become statically charged when they fly causing particles in the air to attract to them?

What are some ways that we can reduce the risk of exposure to pollinators in our landscapes?

  1. Use integrated pest management principles to reduce the incidence of pests and their impacts.
  2. Avoid treating areas containing flowering weeds/plants with insecticides. If you must treat your lawn with an insecticide, and it contains flowering weeds, mow the lawn and remove the flowers just before applying the insecticide.
  3. If you must apply a systemic insecticide to your lawn, leave a buffer strip of several feet between the lawn and the border of landscape beds with flowering plants. This will prevent the flowering plants from uptaking the systemic product.
  4. Postpone any insecticide treatment until after all blooms have fallen from flowering ornamentals. Never apply an insecticide to blooms or flowering plants.
  5. Avoid the use of neonicotinoids as this class of insecticides can be more toxic to bees than other classes of insecticides. There are many effective alternatives.

 

Bee friendly to our pollinators!

For more information:

Minimizing Honey Bee Exposure to Pesticides

Creating and Maintaining Healthy Pollinator Habitat – Xerces Society

Protecting Pollinators in Home Lawns and Landscapes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *