We've all heard it: "Save the bees!"
Way back in the '80s when I was growing up, it was "Save the whales!" Water quality and the ozone layer were taught as the top environmental concerns. My Weekly Reader told me that my own children would be shocked to hear that we once washed our cars with drinkable water. Maybe my great-grandchildren will. Oh wait, they won't even have cars. I digress.
Bees are not the only insects in trouble. Flying insects in general are in a major decline. Why does it matter? I bet most of us have been raised to eliminate insects whenever possible. From our homes, our yards, our picnics. But we need them more than ever.
Bees are not the only pollinators we count on. Without our flying insects, we have NO food crops. We have NO flowers. No flowers = no seeds for new plants. NO birds or mammals that eat insects and seeds.
Insects break down leaves and debris into usable nutrients in the soil. They aerate the soil. They keep one another in check. They are essential for the cycle of life. More insects = more biodiversity, more wildlife, more good stuff. A garden devoid of insects is a sterile place.
So what can the average homeowner do? Encourage the pollinators by letting some areas of your garden grow wild. Clean up less. Give them a place to live. Plant pollinator friendly native plants. Create a compost pile. Eliminate the use of pesticides in and around your home. I admit we once used the services of Terminix (yikes). We truly didn't know better. Now we do. And so do you!
We'll talk in more detail in the coming months about how to encourage pollinators in your landscape.