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Bring Back the Pollinators - April

1 Apr 2023 3:50 PM | Megan Shellman-Rickard (Administrator)

By:   Marikay Shellman, BPW Colorado Virtual Member

98% of insects are NOT pests and “yet most of the chemicals now used kill all insects, our friends and enemies alike.” (Rachel Carson, Silent Spring)

Spring is springing and so are bugs. There is no need for pesticides as there are plenty of non-chemical tactics to battle the bugs: basil to keep flies away, dish soap to rid of ants, a spray bottle filled with water & lemon or lime juice for spiders, a cockroach trap from a wine bottle lined with maple syrup & rubbed with cooking oil, salt for a flea infestation, and Neem Oil for many types of pests.


The number & diversity of insects are declining at an alarming rate due to habitat loss, climate change & use of pesticides. By transforming part of your lawn into an insect friendly habitat, you can attract pollinators and provide habitat for native insects. Lawns are like deserts to insects. Simply leave a section of your yard untouched, allowing vegetation to grow & produce seeds & flowers. Fallen leaves & stems, sticks, and especially logs should be left for insects to use for habitation. Add native plants; they will thrive in your landscape, use less water and attract natural insect enemies to limit damage from those pest species.

Urban areas can exceed rural areas in providing diversity & abundance for pollinators including planting native species in containers on your balcony or on rooftops.

Limit your use of outdoor lighting which is one of the major causes of insect decline.  Nocturnal insects are attracted to artificial lights, killing many of them. Amber or red colored lights, best to use outdoors when a large amount of light is necessary, produce wavelengths that are not as attracting to bugs thus killing fewer. Do NOT use “bug zappers” which purposely kill all insects, especially our friendly insects.

For those of us that left the leaves and native flower stalks all winter, leave the leaves which are providing shelter for insects & pollinators. New growth will pop through this bed of dead leaves. Trim stalks at uneven heights between 6-12 inches. Leave the stubble on the ground as some stem nesting bees might be living in them. Ground nesting bees are 70% of our native bees. Leave some bare ground areas to provide for these ground nesters, especially sandy areas. Remember that a leaf being eaten is providing food for leafcutter bees, 30% of our native bees.

Bumble Bee Watch has put out a call for community collection of valuable data. “As you take your daily walk along your neighborhood trail, putter in your garden weeding and planting, or sip on your coffee on an outdoor patio, keep your eyes and ears open and your camera handy. If you spot a bumble bee foraging or crawling around on the ground, take a photo, a few photos. Then submit your photos to, along with the date and location of your sighting.” Bumble Bees, major pollinators for blueberries, tomatoes, & wildflowers, are nearing extinction.

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