Adore Strawberries? Thank A Pollinator!

You’d never be able to savor a sweet strawberry, sink your teeth into a crisp apple, or crunch a cucumber—without pollinators. You couldn’t slice a ripe melon for breakfast, munch on almonds after school, or unwrap a chocolate bar at the movies. That’s because many of your favorite foods rely on pollinators.

Gathering “Gold”: Bees’ hairy naturally pick up pollen as they dive into the flower to collect nectar. Some of it will be left behind at the blossom they visit next.

But alarmingly, some pollinators—native bees, certain native bat species, and many species of butterflies and moths—are endangered. The good news is that you can help.

As a butterfly walks among blossoms drinking nectar, pollen gathers on its feet and proboscis and are carried to other flowers.

About three-quarters of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their pollen from plant to plant for fertilization. Most of these pollinators—about 200,000 species—are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, and bees. Another 1,000 are vertebrates such as birds, bats, and small mammals.

Four ways you can help pollinators:

  1. Celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 18‑24, 2018. Learn more about pollinators at sandiegozoo.org or by typing “pollinators” in the search bar of your browser.
  2. Create pollinator-friendly habitat at home. Plant native flowering plants that supply pollinators with nectar, pollen, and homes.
  3. Don’t kill your pollinator friends! Reduce or eliminate your pesticide use.
  4. Build a home for pollinators. A quick internet search will show you how to construct a house for bats or for native bees (which don’t live in hives, make honey—or sting!).

By taking action, you’ll be helping bees, birds, bats, and other pollinators continue to do their job.

The Pollinator Garden at the San Diego Zoo has a a large Native Bee House (wooden structure on the right) to help our local pollinators.

Summer’s coming, so break out the peaches, watermelon and more. And while you’re wiping the juice off your chin, remember the pollinators that made them possible.

Donna Parham is a staff writer for San Diego Zoo Global. Read her previous blog, Coupling Up: 7 Species that Bond.

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