Monarch & Pollinator Awareness

Share Monarch & Pollinator Awareness on Facebook Share Monarch & Pollinator Awareness on Twitter Share Monarch & Pollinator Awareness on Linkedin Email Monarch & Pollinator Awareness link

The City of Minnetonka is proud to be a leader among North American cities that educate and empower residents to protect pollinators and their habitat.

Scroll down to learn more about pollinators, our ongoing work with the Mayors' Monarch Pledge, and how you can help pollinators wherever you live, work and play.



July is Minnetonka's eighth-annual Monarch & Pollinator Awareness Month. Here are some ways to learn about, celebrate and help pollinators in July and beyond.

EVENTS

ON YOUR OWN


You might be hearing a lot of buzz about pollinators. What's the story?

Pollinators are animals that visit flowers to feed on nectar, pollen or both.

These animals - including bees, butterflies and moths, hummingbirds, and some species of wasps, beetles and flies - are just looking for a nutritious meal and a quick source of energy. But along the way, pollinators provide an essential service: They transport pollen from one flower to another, helping plants to reproduce.

Thanks to these plant-pollinator relationships, Earth has a tremendous variety of resources that can support humans and other living things.

Watch our videos to learn more about pollinators and their habitat.

Pollinators and native plants are in trouble due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, invasive species and other pressures from human activity. We’ll have to work together to protect and restore these species.

The City of Minnetonka is proud to be a leader among North American cities that educate and empower residents to protect pollinators and their habitat.

Scroll down to learn more about pollinators, our ongoing work with the Mayors' Monarch Pledge, and how you can help pollinators wherever you live, work and play.



July is Minnetonka's eighth-annual Monarch & Pollinator Awareness Month. Here are some ways to learn about, celebrate and help pollinators in July and beyond.

EVENTS

ON YOUR OWN


You might be hearing a lot of buzz about pollinators. What's the story?

Pollinators are animals that visit flowers to feed on nectar, pollen or both.

These animals - including bees, butterflies and moths, hummingbirds, and some species of wasps, beetles and flies - are just looking for a nutritious meal and a quick source of energy. But along the way, pollinators provide an essential service: They transport pollen from one flower to another, helping plants to reproduce.

Thanks to these plant-pollinator relationships, Earth has a tremendous variety of resources that can support humans and other living things.

Watch our videos to learn more about pollinators and their habitat.

Pollinators and native plants are in trouble due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, invasive species and other pressures from human activity. We’ll have to work together to protect and restore these species.

Activities to connect with and support pollinators

These days, lots of people are excited about landscaping that adds pollinator habitat. But did you know those same plantings also make our community more resilient? Resilient landscapes can prepare for, recover from and thrive after extreme weather and other challenges – including those related to Minnesota’s changing climate. The benefits are amazing, including:

  • Habitat that attracts and supports a wonderful variety of native pollinators, songbirds and other wildlife 
  • Lush plant cover that reduces noise and adds visual privacy while absorbing air pollutants and releasing oxygen for better air quality
  • Healthier soil that absorbs and holds stormwater
  • Less erosion (which improves water quality)
  • Greater resilience to climate impacts, such as extreme heat, drought or flooding
  • Less time and money spent on mowing, water, and fertilizers or pesticides – and fewer environmental impacts associated with those maintenance activities.

 ACTIVITY: YARD SURVEY

Walk around your property and identify/map places where you might add native plants, such as where:

  • There’s a lot of lawn you don’t make use of (or which requires significant maintenance)
  • There are no plants at all, such as after a construction project
  • You’ve recently removed buckthorn, garlic mustard or other invasive species
  • Plants aren’t thriving (often due to being in the wrong light, soil or moisture conditions)
  • Plants are doing okay, but there isn’t much pollinator activity.

If you’re inspired to do a more detailed assessment of yard and garden habitat, check out this one from the Xerces Society.

Fall is a great time to plant or seed, so check out the city’s online native plant sale, open through September 2023. Prices include shipping.


Your yard is habitat!

Your home landscape can support an amazing number and variety of pollinators, so design with them in mind. Good pollinator habitat includes these components:

Host plants: Milkweed, native trees and shrubs, and many wildflowers and native grasses provide food for pollinators in their early life stages. Most moth and butterfly larvae are specialists, feeding on just one or a few kinds of host plants. In the U.S., five plant groups are especially important: oak, willow, cherry, pine and poplar. These keystone species support many caterpillars that, in turn, are an important food source for nesting songbirds and other wildlife. You’ll find a handout about keystone plants in the Documents section of this site.

Nectar sources: By planting diverse native species, you can provide for generalists and specialists alike. Try to include native plants with different flower shapes, sizes, colors and scents. And ideally, choose a collection of plants that will bloom through the whole growing season (April through October).

Water: Pollinators get thirsty and hot, so water is a good way to attract them to your yard. Be sure to clean these containers regularly, and replace the water every few days to prevent mosquito breeding.

Overwintering and nest sites: Rock and brush piles, loose leaves, bare soil and dried native plant stems can provide good shelter for pollinators. Soft landings are plantings or features situated under keystone trees, which offer critical shelter and habitat to pollinators in different life stages and seasons. Visit the Documents section of this site to find a handout about soft landings.

Fewer chemicals: Chemicals are a common solution to pest and weed problems. But pesticides can inadvertently kill or harm beneficial species. Ecological pest control is a good alternative. This strategy focuses on maintaining healthy, diverse landscapes that are less vulnerable to pests. To apply this technique:

  • Tolerate moderate plant damage by beneficial insects in return for their invaluable services to our ecosystem.
  • Create habitat for essential insect predators such as songbirds, toads, snakes, bats, dragonflies and wasps.
  • Identify the top pests in your yard and learn about their life cycles. That ensures you control pests during their most vulnerable stage.
  • Try hand-picking or use nonchemical products, like horticultural oils or growth regulators, to manage specific pests on particular plants.
  • Apply chemical pesticides only when other strategies have failed. Follow application instructions carefully, target problem areas rather than broadcasting chemicals widely, and never apply on windy days or when rain is forecast (because wind and rain can spread the chemicals to unintended locations).

ACTIVITY: BECOME A COMMUNITY SCIENTIST

Scientists ask questions and find ways to answer them. Community science allows everyone to participate in research projects, collecting data to help scientists answer their questions. This data can also help policy makers decide how best to protect vulnerable species and their habitat.

Here's a list of some pollinator-themed community science projects. (A PDF of this list is available in this site's Documents folder.) You can find other projects on sites such as SciStarter, the National Geographic Resource Library, or the Minnesota Academy of Science. Choose one that fits your interests and free time, and start sciencing! 


Pollinator diversity and nature journaling

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a pollinator. Chances are, the first thing that comes to mind is a bee, butterfly or hummingbird. Those are excellent pollinators, and there are many different species – but they’re not the only animals doing the essential work of spreading pollen so plants can reproduce. Here is a sampling of other common pollinators you might encounter in your garden or local natural areas.

Moths are frequent flower visitors. Some hone in on light-colored flowers that are visible at night. Female moths lay their eggs on trees and shrubs – especially native oaks, willows, cherry trees, pines and poplars. Caterpillars eat the foliage of their “host plant”, and in turn, they are hunted by nesting songbirds. A single chick may eat thousand of caterpillars before fledging! Insects also provide nutrients, healthful antioxidants, and many of the pigments that produce songbirds’ brilliant feather colors. 

Soldier beetles start life as predators – the larvae eat other insects. Adults switch to pollen, nectar or sap, pollinating as they move between plants. Globally, beetles are the largest group of pollinators!

Hoverflies (sometimes called flower flies or syrphids) look convincingly like bees or wasps. There are many different kinds, each preferring foods at their different life stages. Adult hoverflies are pollinators. Some larvae eat aphids, mites or dead wood, while others consume decaying plants and animals in shallow water.

Great black wasps and other solitary wasps are large, but they almost never sting. They're excellent pollinators (look for them on milkweed) - and to feed their young, they often hunt katydids, a kind of grasshopper that preys on monarch caterpillars.

ACTIVITY: KEEPING A NATURE JOURNAL

Realistically, most of us don’t have time to learn how to identify all these different species or the plants they visit. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to! To appreciate pollinators, you just have to notice them. 

Nature journaling is a great way to get familiar with pollinators, plants and other details of the natural world. A nature journal can be as simple or detailed as you like. Some people jot notes in a blank book. Others write extensive observations or add photos, sketches, paintings, data and other visual elements. If you’re journaling with kids, they might enjoy making a small journal by folding a few pieces of paper and stitching or stapling them together.

Here's a journaling activity that can get you started. We call it a “pollinator sit.” 

If you decide to tackle pollinator and plant identification, visit the Minnetonka or Ridgedale libraries – through July, both branches have special Monarch & Pollinator Awareness Month book displays. You can also check the Important Links on this page for resources such as Minnesota Wildflowers.



You need to be signed in to share your story.

All fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.

  • There are no stories to display. Why don't you share one?
Page last updated: 10 Jul 2024, 05:45 AM