Pollinators are essential for our gardens and our food supply. They help pollinate plants, which is necessary for producing fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Without pollinators, our food supply would be in jeopardy.
You can attract pollinators to your garden by providing them with the necessary resources and creating a safe place for pollinators to rest and build their nests, such as a pile of rocks or a birdhouse. Here are twelve pollinators you should attract to your garden:
Although most prefer the sight of butterflies, moths are equally beautiful and valuable in any garden. These flying insects mainly pollinate during the night, and while they prefer flowers, they can also pollinate your veggies.
Although moths can benefit your garden, there’s one drawback: their caterpillars are well-known garden pests. To get control of these caterpillars, you can plant gardenia, yucca, and morning glory.
Most people see bats as spooky creatures, but these little flying friends are responsible for pollinating delicious foods such as mangoes, bananas, peaches, and agave.
While bats are essential for pollinating crops (especially fruit), they can also indirectly benefit your garden. Bats are excellent pollinators of fragrant flowers such as evening primrose, honeysuckle, and other night-blooming plants
Before shooing flies away, remember that they are likely hanging in your garden to pollinate your flowers or crops, such as your onions, carrots, fennel, and parsley plants.
There are many fly varieties, some of which mimic bees’ behavior, and these flies are essential pollinators. One study found that, right after bees, flies are the second most important pollinators.
We know wasps can be scary at first glance, but as long as you do not bother them or make them feel threatened, there’s nothing to worry about. Wasps do incredible work on garden flowers, peppers, tomatoes, chives, leeks, cilantro, onions, carrots, and more. Besides being excellent pollinators, wasps also eliminate common pests like caterpillars and aphids. Wasps are mostly known for pollinating figs.
Beetles are interesting pollinators because, on one hand, beetles, such as flea beetles, can destroy crops. However, most beetle varieties help the garden by pollinating crops and controlling common garden pests. You can attract beetles by planting sunflowers or magnolias.
Easily spotted buzzing around flowers, bumblebees are the powerhouse of pollination. This type of bee can vibrate its body to dislodge pollen from a flower, then combs the pollen off its fuzzy budy into its corbicula, or pollen basket.
Bumblebees can fly even in cold weather. This is because they have a particular type of fur that traps heat. Bumblebees can fly in temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit making them essential pollinators in cold climates.
Hoverflies are prolific pollinators that control pests like aphids. They visit at least 72% of the global food crops and more than 70% of wildflowers. Hoverflies can fly hundreds of miles daily and carry pollen for over 100 km, even over open water. They are often mistaken for bees or wasps but can be distinguished by their smaller size and lack of a stinger.
Ladybugs, or lady beetles, are infamous for their biological control of pests, insects like aphids, and mealybugs. There are over 5,000 species of ladybugs worldwide, and while the most popular variety is red with black spots, ladybeetles come in various colors, including black with white spots and orange-black with red spots.
One ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime, which is generally up to one year. Ladybugs can fly, but they prefer to walk. Ladybugs are considered good luck in many cultures.
Soft-Winged Flower Beetles
Soft-winged flower beetles are also known as pollen beetles. They are a member of the Melyridae family, with over 3,000 species worldwide. Most adults feed solely on flower pollen and are believed to be one of the most significant contributors to the pollination of California wildflowers.
Flowers such as marigolds and coneflowers attract honeybees. Honeybees are hardworking pollinators that help your garden thrive. Honeybees pollinate around 15 billion dollars worth of crops in the US each year, including over 130 types of fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Butterflies flying around your flowers are a great sign that you have a healthy, flourishing garden. While butterflies are not as effective at pollinating as bees are, these beautiful flying insects are essential, especially for vegetable gardens.
Butterflies can pollinate herbs like cilantro and dill and veggies like kale, celery, artichokes, cauliflower, and many others. To attract butterflies to your garden, you’ll have to plant flowers like milkweed, coneflowers, and yarrow around your veggie garden.
Watching hummingbirds is a lovely experience, but watching hummingbirds hover around your flowers and crops is an even more delightful view.
While hummingbirds are known for seeking out and pollinating tubular flowers, they also help improve your garden’s quality by controlling garden pests.
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This originally appeared on Planet Natural.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.