By Jon Morgenson
As a kid I remember (like many of you) running around during the summer barefoot, which meant, you better keep an eye open, looking for patches of clover in lawns, identifiable by their white flowers amidst all the green. Because if you didn’t, you’d pay a price! Those same patches of clover were humming with bees at their business of gathering pollen, and it didn’t take too many ‘repeats’ of stepping on a bee barefoot, to learn to be watchful. It may just be my foggy memory, but it seems that there are less bees (as well as clover in lawns) than there once was, and I am finding that other people agree and are coming to similar conclusions, and their conclusions are based on research instead of just remembrances.
It’s not hard to find a newspaper or magazine article talking about the value of small created backyard wildlife habitats and how they really can make a difference for struggling wildlife in urban areas. In these articles, I am learning more about the decline and struggle of pollinators that include: bees, butterflies, moths, flies and beetles. We should be concerned for more than one reason. The fact that the production of a large percentage of our food crops (one third) are a direct result of pollinators doing their work should get our attention. Pollinators also play a vital role in the health and productivity of ecosystems including the wildlife (and livestock) they produce. One such ecosystem, the grasslands, includes us in Nebraska.
2014 has been declared the “the year of the pollinator “and throughout the coming weeks we plan to dedicate future articles in Landscape Notes to pollinators. We hope to provide information about what pollinators do for us, what some of the causes for the decline in pollinators may be and what we can do in our ‘park’ and home landscapes to improve habitat for pollinators.