One of the goals of the Butterfly Highway is to promote stewardship of native plant habitats for pollinators.
Importance of Pollinators
- Global food crops are dependent on pollinators and more than 70% crops either require or have a higher production because of pollinator insect visit
- It has been estimated that native pollinators are responsible for pollinating almost $3.07 billion of US produced fruits and vegetables.
- Only 2% of wild bee species do 80% of the pollination
- Conservation of wild pollinator habitat in agricultural areas can provide several economic benefits in addition to increased crop production these include reduction in area of cultivated land and reduced rental of cultivated honeybees. Farms that include pollinator conservation practices may be eligible for subsidies or receive a premium price for produce that is organic or “environmentally friendly”.
- In a 1996 study, Americans reported that they spent $33.8 billion on wildlife and bird watching. Insects, including pollinator larvae, are an important food source for birds and provide protein that is vital to young chicks. Pollinator larvae are an important source of this protein. Calculations based on the number of insectivorous birds, places an estimated annual economic value insects to wildlife watching at $19.8 billion.
Threats to pollinators
- Native pollinator habitat loss, limited floral resources
- Invasive plants
- Landscape fragmentation due to urbanization
- Overuse of pesticides and fungicides
- Introduced bee species, feral domesticated bees
Native plants should be used in habitat restoration and pollinator gardens
- Do not require fertilizers.
- Require fewer pesticides for maintenance.
- Require less water than other nonnative plantings.
- May function to inhibit nonnative weed encroachment.
- Provide permanent shelter and food for wildlife
- Are less likely to become invasive than nonnative plants
- Promote local native biological diversity.
- Are preferred by native pollinators.
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