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From bees to hummingbirds: Here's how you can have a pollinator-friendly yard

Posted at 1:33 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 15:33:16-04

About 250,000 plant species rely on insects to pollinate plants for fruit, vegetables and much of the food we consume.

Salt Lake Community College's (SLCC) Dr. Emmanuel Santa-Martinez joined us to tell us about National Pollinator Week (June 20-26) and why that's important to all of us.

Animals that move pollen from male to female parts of a flower are pollinators. Those include bees, flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, wasps, hummingbirds and bats.

More than 85 percent of flowering plants rely on pollinators. Pollinators are vital for fruit, vegetable and forage crops. In fact, insects pollinate two-thirds of crops.

A pollinator garden is designed to have plants that provide food and shelter to animals that pollinate plants in our local ecosystem and food web.

You can do a pollinator garden of just a few feet on a balcony, your yard or even several acres. It's important to have a diversity of plants.

Dr. Santa-Martinez recommends choosing plants native to your region and nectar and pollen-rich flowers with a range of shapes, sizes and colors. He also says to have some flowering plants that provide access to pollen and nectar from Spring to Fall.

Also, considering nesting sites and shelters. In addition to plants, these insects can live in stems and dead wood, or bee houses or even the bare earth for ground-nesting bees.

Eliminate pesticides which can kill or affect the foraging of many pollinators.

You can visit websites from the Xerces Society and the Utah Native Plant Society for more information about what plants are native to your region and native plants in your area.

To attract:
1) Butterflies like the Monarch: plant showy milkweed & narrowleaf milkweeds
2) Bees: plant Asters, Buckwheat, Wasatch Penstemon & Primrose
3) Hummingbirds: plant Hummingbird flower & beardtongue penstemon

SLCC has a course research project where they ask students to select two different sites in Utah (mountain, desert, urban), and collect data on which pollinators are in each area and which plants they are visiting.

In the selected sites, students record any disturbance that can impact the presence of pollinators like deforestation, construction, or invasive species.

SLCC has also started the initiative to make the campus pollinator-friendly. They have identified two plots in Redwood campus to convert them into pollinator gardens complete with plants and bee houses.

If you'd like to learn more, visit: slcc.edu.