Pollinator Survival Guide
Our Pollinator Survival Guide provides an easy way to think about the spectrum of impactful actions that either promote or threaten pollinator survival.
Plant a diversity of native plants, shrubs, and trees that provide pollen and nectar for a variety of pollinator species throughout the growing season, from early spring through late fall.
Be sure to include host plants in your landscape! Monarch butterfly larva, for example, can only develop on Milkweed.
Visit our blog to learn about other important host plants in New England.
To create a small to medium-sized pollinator garden, select 9 different species of native plants: 3 that are spring-flowering, 3 that are summer-flowering, and 3 that bloom in early fall. Remember to create a "pollinator buffet" that includes both pollen and nectar floral resources.
Next, buy 3-5 plants of each species and group species of plants together in "drifts" to provide for easier foraging. Planting a single species in a minimum of a 3 foot square is a good rule of thumb.
Choose plants with different characteristics (different flower shapes, sizes, and colors) that will accommodate both "specialist" and "generalist" pollinator species. Many of our most threatened bumblebee pollinator species are specialists with medium and long tongue lengths, meaning they need to access the floral resources of long, tubular flowers. Other insects can only access and pollinate very open flowers.
Encourage nesting.Build small brush piles, leave safely decaying trees, and compost leaves and grass clippings on your property. Leave plant stalks, seed heads, and fall leaves to provide food and shelter for overwintering birds, bees, butterflies, moths, and birds. Decomposing leaves also add rich organic nutrients to the soil.
Pledge to eliminate the use of deadly, man-made synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers in your yard. Instead invite "nature's pest control," natural enemies in the form of beneficial insects, with native plants that support them.
Provide water. Maintain a "bird bath" or watering hole (ideally with a bubbler installed to attract birds) for insects and birds to safely access water and soil minerals.
Avoid cultivars and non-native plants. Cultivars are often sterile and lack the quality of nectar and pollen that native plants provide; and non-native plants, such as Purple Loosestrife or Butterfly Bush/Buddleia, while attractive to many pollinators, compete with native plants and serve little to no ecological value.
Reduce the frequency of lawn-mowing and leaf-blowing. Longer intervals between mowing lets lawn flowers (clover and dandelions) bloom, which help bees. Instead of every week, mow every 2 weeks. Leave the grass longer by mowing your lawn at the highest setting (3 inches or greater).
If you must keep your lawn clear of leaves consider raking them into a leaf pile in a corner of your yard. Choose a landscaping service that uses professional grade zero-emission electric equipment and organic practices. In doing so, you will not only reduce your overall carbon lawn footprint and protect more pollinating species, you will also drastically reduce the noise levels in your neighborhood!
Check out our Resources page for local landscapers that provide these services.
Consider replacing some of your lawn (a "green desert" for pollinators) with a flowering native plant garden or alternative no-mow, native sedge grass that will beautify your landscape while supporting native pollinators and other wildlife. See our Native Plant List.
a) Plant a few native trees or shrubs that provide food and shelter for many diverse pollinators, beneficial insects and other wildlife.
b) Add just 5 to 7 native plants to an existing garden bed, planter, or window box.
Destructive or Harmful
Using pesticides and chemical fertilizers on lawns, plants, and trees.
Planting seeds and plants treated with systemic pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids.
Mowing and blowing your yard with gas-powered machinery every week, and removing all the fallen leaves, stems, and flower heads from your property in the fall.