It is no secret that monarchs and other pollinators are in trouble. Now is the time to take action! So, what can you do? Direct action can take on many looks. Below is a list of some of the many ways you can become involved in monarch and pollinator conservation. We hope you find it helpful!
Plant milkweed: monarchs depend on milkweed for survival.
Create habitat for pollinators: click HERE to see our entire page dedicated to this topic.
Plant native plant species: native plants provide food and habitat for native wildlife, they have less/no need for pesticides and fertilizers that harm pollinators, they decrease the amount of water needed, and they require less maintenance, which saves time and money.
Don't Fear the Sting
- Pollinators provide humankind with 35% of our diet along with beverages, fibers and medicines
- Only about .5% of children and 3% of adults have actual sting allergies from bees, wasps and ants
- The risk of a sting from bees in your yard or garden is very small, especially with a bit of advance knowledge:
- Less than half of the world's bees are capable of stinging (only female bees can sting).
- Bees fly around to collect pollen and nectar to feed their young and themselves. They are not flying around looking for someone to sting.
- Most bees only sting if you pinch or step on them, or if they get caught in clothing.
- Ground-nesting yellow jackets, which are minor pollinators are likely to sting, while major pollinating bees get the blame! The best approach to eliminate yellow jackets is to set queen traps in the spring before they establish new nests.
- Keep a safe distance from bee nests.
- Do not run power tools or lawnmowers near bee nests.
- If you are barefoot, watch where you step.
- If you know bees are around, try not to wear dark clothing or strong perfume.
- Move slowly when bees are around.
- If a bee is flying around you, or lands on you, stay calm (do not swat at it or try to run away)...if you leave them alone, they will most likely leave you alone.
Pesticides: Don't use them, unless absolutely necessary! If you do, don't use pesticides containing any of the chemicals in the neonicotinoid family. Following are some great resources dedicated to pesticides.
- Neonicotinoids and Bees: http://xerces.org/neonicotinoids-and-bees/
- Avoid these common household products that contain neonicotinoids: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/files/pesticide_list_final_59620.pdf
- Learn about the least toxic solutions (barriers/repellants, beneficial insects, etc.): https://www.planetnatural.com/product-category/natural-pest-control/
- Organic Pest Control: What works, what doesn’t: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/pest-control/organic-pest-control-zm0z11zsto
- Organic-approved Pesticides: http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/xerces-organic-approved-pesticides-factsheet.pdf
- Ten Homemade Organic Pesticides: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/organic-pesticides/
Compost, compost, compost--- healthy, nutrient-rich soil grows plants strong enough to resist insect infestation.
Get infected plants out as soon as possible.
Herbicides/Weed Killers: Don't use them, unless absolutely necessary and the last resort possible! An example of when to use them is if Bermuda Grass continues taking over your garden even after all other efforts to get rid of it. If you are forced to use an herbicide, please use 'selective herbicides', which target specific weeds. Do not use 'nonselective' herbicides, such as ones that contain glyphosate (Roundup is a popular one), which kill every plant it touches. Widespread use of herbicides containing glyphosate-such as Roundup- have decimated the milkweed population along the monarch migration route. And don’t forget, the number one reason for the decrease in monarch population is directly linked to the loss of habitat (milkweed).
"Weeds" such as dandelion or clover provide a valuable, early source of spring food for numerous pollinators.
Take advantage of every opportunity to educate others about monarchs, the importance of pollinators, ways everyone can help, etc.
Buy or make a sign for your garden so others can learn from your efforts. Several organizations offer programs to certify your gardens and receive an official sign.
- Monarch Watch: Monarch Waystation Program
- Xerces Society: Pollinator Habitat
- National Wildlife Federation: Garden for Wildlife
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Schoolyard Habitat Program
- National Pollinator Garden Network: Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Keep learning, because the more you know, the more you will want to conserve.
Have an event in your garden to raise awareness.
Always, always, always involve students in every step of the process!
Use your hard-earned money to support farmers, business and organizations that use and promote sustainable practices. Shopping locally and buying organics and non-gmo certified are key features to look for before you make a purchase.
If you invest your money, do so in businesses that adhere to sustainable practices. A simple internet search (social and environmentally responsible investing) will lead you in the right direction.
Policy and Legislation
Stay informed on current legislation (local, state and federal) and regularly contact your elected officials to voice your opinion
- Contact information for U.S. Senators: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
- Contact information for U.S. House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/representatives/
Urge your mayor to take action to help save the monarch by signing and implementing the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge: http://www.nwf.org/Garden-For-Wildlife/About/National-Initiatives/Mayors-Monarch-Pledge.aspx
Many U.S. cities, including Seattle, Portland, Eugene, Boulder, San Francisco and Spokane have banned the use of pesticides containing chemicals in the neonicotinoid family. Urge your mayor to follow their example. The following website shows the Boulder, CO city resolution: https://www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/resolution-concerning-use-neonicontinoid-pesticides-boulder-1-201504101408.pdf