Celebrating Pollinators in Nebraska

June 16, 2023 NEBRASKAland Magazine

Pollinator Week is June 19-25


Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the milkweed plant, which has a toxic compound that not only doesn’t bother them, it also protects the butterflies by turning them poisonous to predators.

By Eric Fowler

By Alie Mayes, Community Science Specialist

Most of us know the basics of what a pollinator is: an animal that moves pollen within a flower, or between flowers, in a way that aids in plant reproduction. We also understand that pollinators are vital to the health of ecosystems, and they provide invaluable services to humans, including pollination of many of the fruits and vegetables we eat.

It seems fitting, then, that once a year we dedicate a week to learning about and celebrating all things pollinators! This year, Pollinator Week is June 19-25, 2023. The seven-day celebration across North America is hosted by the Pollinator Partnership. Here in Nebraska, we make a special effort to promote and share our love and excitement for pollinators. The week is supported in part through a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

Pollinator Week in Nebraska

Nebraska Pollinator Week is a statewide effort hosted by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Game and Parks works with partners to support pollinator-themed events across the state. Visit our Pollinator Week website for a list of related events.

We also host the Nebraska Pollinator Quest (formally the Pollinator Week Challenge). This is an effort to find and record as many Nebraska pollinators as possible during Pollinator Week. Everyone is encouraged to get outside, take pictures of pollinators and upload them to the free iNaturalist app.

American bumble bee. Photo by Alie Mayes.

Pollinators Year Round

At this point, you might be wondering, “Is a week enough to celebrate, learn and take action to study and conserve pollinators?” Certainly, it is a great place to start! But here are a few suggestions on how you can keep supporting pollinators throughout the year.

1. Contribute to Pollinator Knowledge

Community science projects invite people to help expand their understanding of a wide range of topics, including pollinators. Two projects in Nebraska that need volunteers are the Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas and the NGPC Rare Butterfly Surveys.

The Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas supports the understanding and conservation of bumble bees across the state. Atlas volunteers conduct surveys that allow the opportunity to get an up close look at the different bumble bees that call Nebraska home. 

The NGPC Monarch and Butterfly Surveys are an effort to better understand the distribution of monarch and regal fritillary butterflies within Nebraska. This project asks volunteers to conduct summer butterfly surveys.

Tagging monarchs is a popular way to participate in citizen science for people across North America. Photo by Eric Fowler.

2. Cultivate Overlapping Blooms

When gardening for pollinators, overlapping bloom times is essential. Picking plants that will start blooming in spring will help pollinators that emerge early, such as queen bumble bees, find the food they need to survive. Making sure something is always blooming in your garden through fall will ensure you are providing vital food resources for pollinators.

3. Leave the Leaves

Looking for a way to help pollinators and do less yard work? Leaving the leaves in your yard provides important overwintering habitat for many insect species, including pollinators. Dead stems also provide overwintering shelter for our native bees. Turns out, by doing a little less in your yard, you can do a lot more to help pollinators!

Join Nebraska Game and Parks in celebrating Pollinator Week June 19-25. Attend an event. Go on a quest. And then keep supporting pollinators all year long with small actions that lead to big impacts. With your help, Nebraska will continue to be home to an amazing array of pollinators to celebrate in the future!

The post Celebrating Pollinators in Nebraska appeared first on Nebraskaland Magazine.

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