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Conservation Corner

National Pollinator Week

Wed, June 22, 2016

This week is set aside to celebrate the importance of POLLINATORS. “Trees for Bees” is this year’s theme of National Pollinator Week, observed June 20-26.  Created to promote bee-friendly practices such as planting pollinator gardens of native flowers, the theme highlights the many natural benefits that flowering native tree species such as tulip tree, black willow, northern catalpa, flowering dogwood and maples offer to foraging bees.

But when it comes to pollinators, Illinois farmers, homeowners, and everyone are encouraged to think beyond just bees. Illinois needs the benefits that all pollinators provide—bees, hummingbirds, bats, butterflies—we have so many allies who help support agriculture.

The goal of National Pollinator Week is to address the issue of declining pollinator populations. The event has grown into an international celebration of the valuable natural benefits provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently offered a new program for establishing habitat that supports pollinators, specifically, the well-known black and orange butterfly, the Monarch. Designated as the Illinois State Insect, the Monarch Butterfly has suffered losses lately and many organizations are working hard to encourage landowners to develop habitat that meets the precise needs of Monarchs, namely a well-known plant called ‘milkweed.’

It may sound like it’s a weed, but it means survival for all the Monarch butterflies who migrate up from Mexico and travel through Illinois on their way north. If private landowners across Illinois plant milkweed in small areas, along roadsides, in filter or buffer strips, we can secure make a tremendous difference in the future of butterflies.

To learn more about what farmers and landowners can do to support Pollinators this week and beyond, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/il/newsroom/releases/?cid=NRCSEPRD1116806 or contact your local NRCS conservation team.