Xerces Society and National Pollinator Week

To help raise awareness of the declining populations of many pollinating species, in 2017 the US Senate unanimously voted to establish National Pollinators Week. Because pollen grains are vital not only to our human food supply but to the health of all life on the planet, there is a good reason to care about them: our lives are intertwined with them. This year National Pollination Week is from June 20 to June 26.

‘The Real Dirt’ is a column by various local master gardeners who are part of the UC Master Gardeners of Butte County.

A pollinator is any insect or animal that inadvertently, through its movements, carries pollen or the male reproductive part of plants to the female parts of plants, a process that facilitates the reproduction of more than 85% of flowering plants. does. It is estimated that more than two-thirds of the world’s crops depend on pollinators, and the seeds and fruits produced by pollinators form a major part of the diet of many other animals. Perhaps surprisingly, bats, birds, small mammals and lizards can be pollinators, but most pollinators are insects. While the honeybee (introduced from Europe to the Americas, and therefore non-native) usually comes to mind, there is actually a diverse troupe of butterflies, moths, wasps, ants, beetles and flies, and a dazzling array of wild bees. , does most of the work of pollination. In fact, wild bees are primarily responsible for pollination of most agricultural crops, whether managed (as opposed to wild) bees are present or not. The diversity of wild pollinators has improved crop yields (Garibaldi et al, February 2013 in Science). Unfortunately, many species of wild insect pollinators are becoming increasingly rare due to habitat loss, pesticide use, introduced diseases, and climate change (of course, managed bees are not faring very well).

The Xerces Society is an organization dedicated to working on behalf of these important native insects. Founded in 1971, the non-profit Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation was named for Xerces blue (Glaucopsis xerces), a genus of San Francisco sand dunes driven to extinction by land development in the 1940s. There was a butterfly. Based in Portland, Oregon, the Xerces Society creates science-based programs and educational resources to facilitate the conservation of rare and endangered invertebrates and pollinating insects. While its focus is global, it currently has initiatives operating within California, including the California Bumble Bee Atlas and Bumble Bee Watch, and the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper and Thanksgiving Monarch Butterfly Count. These initiatives use community members (citizen scientists) to help collect scientific data, which is an entertaining and educational way to get involved in grassroots pest conservation. You don’t need any previous experience to join this team: Xerces scientists provide the necessary training webinars to get you started.

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