Nebraska helps feed the World, but did you know that pollinators are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food you take? Governor Pete Ricketts officially proclaimed June 20-26th as Pollinator Week on June 22, 2022 in a ceremony at the Capitol.
From honeybees to butterflies, moths, birds and bats, pollinators are responsible for pollinating about 90% of all flowering plants, and these plants wouldn’t exist without them. Pollinator week is a way to learn, celebrate, and protect pollinators.
“Nebraska does a lot for pollinators.” said Debbie Dekleva, CEO of Monarch Flyway and founder of Sustainable Monarch. “In 2015, the Nebraska Department of Roads kept the roadsides very tidy by mowing a lot. When they learned that monarch butterfly population decreased by 90% they implemented ways in which they could help the pollinator rebound. They started planting milkweed, the only plant monarch caterpillars will eat, and nectar plants for the adult butterflies.”
“Monarchs are a great poster child for pollinators because they are easily recognizable and their iconic migration from Mexico to Canada is awe inspiring,” said Debbie Dekleva, “It takes 5-6 generations to complete the migration and they need suitable habitat throughout the migration path, including through Nebraska.”
In addition to Nebraska Department of Transportation, the Sandhills and ranching community do a lot for pollinators as well. Grazing natural landscapes like the Sandhills is critical to keep plants regenerating from the roots, increase the duration of blooms, and disperses seeds and fertilizer for new plants to grow. When plants are in bloom, pollinators are working behind the scenes to create more seeds and help continue the growth cycle and increase biodiversity. Based on recent genetic tracing for the monarch migration, Nebraska rangelands are a significant producer of monarchs that reach Mexico to overwinter, a journey that can be 2,500 miles. With the continuous cycle of pollination and reproduction, the Sandhills feed people all over the world with Nebraska beef being served as a delicacy.
No matter where you live or what you do, people all over can help pollinators thrive by planting Native plants and reducing chemical inputs whether at home or at work. One way to track pollinators is through iNaturalist, an ap that allows you to upload pictures and then helps identify plants, insects, and other wildlife. Getting into Nature and learning about native plants, pollinators, and other wildlife will help Nebraska keep feeding the World for generations.