Many of our pollinator species are at risk, and one reason for that is because of habitat loss. Pollinators species, such as butterflies and bees, are responsible for about 40% of food crop production, so it is especially important that we take action to help. With community support, Heritage Conservancy staff members have been working hard to support local pollinators. In the month of September, we held two separate events to increase awareness of their plight and to provide habitat to help them thrive.
On September 7th, over 30 volunteers gathered at our Jackson Pond Preserve in Buckingham Township to engage in a monarch tagging event to help track migration patterns. We were fortunate to be greeted by hundreds of pollinators, namely, several species of butterflies that included eastern tailed blue, cloudless sulphur, and buckeye. Jim, our Land Conservation Manager, gave guided tours, detailing our work on the five-acre native pollinator meadow at Jackson Pond Preserve and how it supports pollinators throughout every stage of life. To top it all off, one of our knowledgeable volunteers, Diane Allison, brought a chrysalis of black swallowtails. To our delight, we were able to witness a butterfly emerge from the chrysalis, “pump up” its crinkled wings, then elegantly spread them!
The following week, on Friday the 13th, we furthered our pollinator promotion over at our Croydon Woods Nature Preserve, where we planted a pollinator patch next to the local elementary school. Not only will butterflies and bees benefit from this space, but students will now be able to connect with and gain knowledge of nature in an otherwise widely developed area. The tree species we planted, which provide nectar and pollen during early spring before most wildflowers bloom, include sweet pepper bush, highbush blueberry, beach plum, and shadbush. As for plants, we used butterfly and swamp milkweed, New England and New York aster, and goldenrod.
It is more beneficial to plant a wide variety of native plant species than only planting butterfly bush. The mixture of plants provides more support for a butterfly’s entire lifespan than what butterfly bush offers. These plants promote butterflies and bees, and in return, butterflies and bees promote these plants. Without either, these ecosystems could quickly vanish, to the detriment of the environment as a whole.
A big thank you to all of our volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to these projects. If you are feeling inspired to add a native pollinator garden at your own home to support pollinator species, you can utilize the list of plant and tree species mentioned above!