Pollinator populations need our support

A bee works a chive flower last week. Photo special to The R-C by Jeff Garvin

A bee works a chive flower last week. Photo special to The R-C by Jeff Garvin

Carson Valley is abloom, and it’s absolutely gorgeous out there. All the moisture we’ve received has really encouraged plant growth this season, and my backyard is aflutter with yellow swallowtail butterflies and dragonflies. Last weekend, I saw three different bee species hovering around a blue pincushion plant (Scabiosa) and gathering pollen at the same time.

June is National Pollinator Month, which invites us to consider the critical role that bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, and moths play in helping flowering plants reproduce. This activity helps sustain ecosystems and contributes to the growth of many crops, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that we rely upon.

The Pollinator Partnership (pollinator.org) says pollinators “are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food.” They further emphasize that, “…without the actions of pollinators, agricultural economies, our food supply, and surrounding landscapes would collapse.”

Pollinator populations are declining worldwide, but reducing pesticide use and cultivating outdoor habitats that include native plant species where wildlife can thrive are two ways we can help support these vital creatures. Adaptive native species are also beneficial; these are plants that although not native to this area, can really thrive here. One example of an adaptive native species is the Scabiosa plant mentioned earlier.

The Xerces Society (xerces.org) is an international nonprofit organization committed to protecting “the natural world through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats.” They offer a comprehensive list of pollinator-friendly plants for our area at xerces.org/publications/plant-lists/native-plants-for-pollinators-and-beneficial-insects-great-basin-region. You can also visit their page to sign the “Pollinator Protection Pledge” and learn more about their educational, collaborative, advocacy, and conservation efforts.

In recognition and celebration of National Pollinator Month, the University of Nevada, Reno-Douglas Extension (extension.unr.edu/douglas.aspx) has planned a number of ways to get involved.

On Wednesday evenings through Oct. 4 (except for the dates that coincide with Wind Down Wednesdays: June 21, July 26, Aug. 23, and September 27), UNR’s Douglas Extension hosts Q+A sessions at Heritage Park Gardens from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Horticulture Outreach Coordinator Jessica Gardner will focus on a variety of topics throughout the series, starting with companion planting at tonight’s session. June 14 covers tomato planting and the aim for June 28 is harvesting garlic and garlic braiding. No registration is required, but it’s a good idea to bring a chair.

On June 21, Gardner discusses herb gardening at Dangberg Ranch, 1450 State Route 88 in Minden. She’s offering the 5:30-6:30 session as a way to continue providing educational opportunities when Heritage Park Gardens is booked with other special sessions.

Anyone interested in learning more about the UNR Master Gardener program is invited to attend an informational session led by Gardner on Monday, June 12 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Douglas Extension office, 1325 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville.

Also at the Douglas Extension office, Master Gardeners are on hand every Thursday from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. to answer questions related to home landscape horticulture. This service is offered through October, and photos and samples are encouraged. Please note that any insect species must be dead.

On the way inside, check out the newly planted pollinator garden in front of the office building, which was recently cultivated by current Master Gardener program interns. Plant varieties include: Lamb’s Ear, snapdragons, honeysuckle, Agastache (hummingbird mint), and Gaillardia (blanket flower).

A number of special events are scheduled during Pollinator Week, June 19-24. These include a special movie screening on the 20, a honey class in collaboration with Sierra Chef during the early afternoon of the 22, and pollinator bingo at River Fork Ranch, 381 Genoa Lane in Minden, on the same date.

Also on June 22, The Nature Conservancy’s Rangeland Ecologist Kevin Badik, Ph.D., presents a talk on “Native Seeds in the West” as part of River Fork Ranch’s guest speaker series. The talk runs from 6-7 p.m., and a $10 donation is suggested.

On June 23, the public is invited to participate in a “BioBlitz,” with a goal of finding, photographing, and recording as many invertebrates/pollinators as possible within in certain timeframe and location. Data is submitted online for identification and recording of the species diversity in the area. This year’s focus areas are Zephyr Cove Library in the a.m. and River Fork Ranch in p.m.

For more information, including additional events and time/location specifics of any of the listed programs, visit the UNR Douglas Extension website or find them on Facebook at facebook.com/UNRExtensionDouglas/

Amy Roby can be reached at ranchosroundup@hotmail.com.


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