Many are aware of the current disappearance of honey bees across North America, but few realize the decline of other vital, native pollinating species of insects that is also taking place at an alarming rate. These other insects include butterflies, most notably the monarch butterfly, moths, ground dwelling bees and wasps. Their disappearance is directly linked to the loss of key habitat, such as wildflower fields, leaf piles and rotting logs, the adults and juveniles use to feed, breed and hide in. However, new restoration projects are replanting native wildflower species, such as milkweed, in an effort to bring back these beneficial insects with great success.
The meadows will draw in attractive pollinators, such as this Hairstreak Butterfly. (Photo by Ben Derr)
SALT’s Schoharie Area Wild VISTA Coordinator Eric Malone, in collaboration with a team of other experts on insects and native plants, is working to develop some pollinator meadows locally. These meadows will take parcels of land that have since been abandoned and repurpose them to be aesthetically pleasing green spaces with bright, native wildflowers pollinating insects need.
The creation of these meadows will encourage the return of a variety of beneficial insects to the Schoharie Valley and positively contribute to the region. The meadows will help local agriculture as the services of native pollinators are worth an estimated $4.1 billion dollars a year by the United States Department of Agriculture. These attractive meadows may also serve as an eco-tourism feature for people to come and visit to see these colorful insects and beautiful flowers.
An example of an excellent native pollinator meadow in Schoharie County. (Photo by Ben Derr)
You too can easily help local pollinating and beneficial insects establish on your own property! By letting patches of native wildflowers and grasses grow in, reducing pesticide use and leaving some downed woody debris around your property you will provide a variety of species with a suitable home. Planting small gardens with some of their preferred flowering plants will add a nice touch to your property while also inviting these helpful insects to come around.
Pollinating insects do not need us; we need them. While they are small and often out of site, their positive effects on the ecosystems they occupy are profound and noticeable. We look forward to advancing this restoration project to help increase their numbers in the Schoharie Valley and the benefits they will bring to the region and local farmers.
For more information on the project, please contact Eric Malone at EricM@saltrecovery.org and see the links below for additional information on helping pollinating insects and creating gardens of your own! Special thanks to local butterfly guru Ben Derr for supplying the sharp images!