Saturday, April 22, 2017

On Earth Day, Commit to Protect Pollinators by Donna Duffy

Wool Carder Bee, photo courtesy Whitney Crenshaw
Imagine living in a world without flowers, fruit, coffee or even chocolate for that matter. Thanks to the work of pollinators, much of the food we eat and flowers and plants we enjoy are possible. And it’s not just bees that are doing all the work. Butterflies, birds, beetles, bats, wasps and even flies are important in the pollination process. Worldwide, there is an alarming decline in pollinator populations. Excessive use of pesticides and an ever-expanding conversion of landscapes to human use are the biggest culprits.

Leaf Cutter Bee, photo courtesy CSU Extension

EPA’s Bee Careful With Pesticides offers the following tips to protect bees and other pollinators:

Tips for protecting bees when pesticide use is necessary: 
  • Do not apply pesticides when bees are likely to be flying. Bees generally are inactive from one hour after sunset to two hours before sunrise or when the temperature is below 55 F.
  • Early evening application is best so pesticides can dry during the night.
  • To minimize drift, do not apply pesticides on a windy day. 
Safely Manage Pests in Your Garden

Identify the problem. There is never a “one size fits all” solution to pest management. Correctly identify the problem before attempting any solution. 

Try to solve the problem without pesticides. Pests can often be managed safely without use of pesticides.

Find the product that solves the problem. All products do not work on every pest. Labels tell how and when products should be applied to deal with certain types of pests. 

Buy and use the right amount; more is not better. Product labels tell how much to use to treat a problem. Using more can harm plants and lawns, and may be unsafe for people and pets. Some products might not work as well after being stored for a long period. A larger size might not be a good value. 

Follow label instructions to the letter. Labels tell how to safely use products for best results. If the label tells you to mix a product in another container, make only as much as you can use. Do not ever apply more than is allowed by the label. 

Pay attention to warnings affecting bees and other pollinators. Learn when and how to apply the product to ensure pollinator safety. 

Can you find the pollinator on this Rabbitbrush? Photo by Donna Duffy

Plant Natives and Other Pollinator-Friendly Plants

Use pollinator-friendly plants in your garden. Different flower colors, shapes and scents will attract a wide variety of pollinators. If you have limited space, plant flowers in containers on a patio, balcony and window boxes. Incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. Get familiar with native plants and utilize them throughout your landscape.

For more information, check out CSU Extension’s excellent resource: Homeowners Guide to Pesticide Use Around the House and Garden. Be purposeful with pesticides!