Monarch butterflies rely on milkweed species. Photo credit: Bugwood.org
With more than 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants relying on pollinators, their importance to natural ecosystems and agriculture cannot be overstated. However, populations of pollinators, including bird, bat, butterfly, beetle and bee species, have been declining around the world. Recognizing the importance of pollinators, Secretary Tom Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has proclaimed June 15 to 21, 2015 as National Pollinator Week.
To celebrate Pollinator Week, we are sharing some of the Forest Service’s work to conserve one iconic pollinator species and its habitat – the Monarch butterfly. Monarch butterflies complete incredible migrations of hundreds to thousands of miles each year across North America. Along their migratory paths, Monarchs rely on habitats that contain milkweed species, which is the only plant that they lay their eggs on. Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed, which contains chemical compounds that make them poisonous to potential predators. Read more »
Cross-posted from the White House blog:
Pollinators are critical to the Nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year, and helps ensure that our diets include ample fruits, nuts, and vegetables. This tremendously valuable service is provided to society by honey bees, native bees and other insect pollinators, birds, and bats.
But pollinators are struggling. Last year, beekeepers reported losing about 40% of honey bee colonies, threatening the viability of their livelihoods and the essential pollination services their bees provide to agriculture. Monarch butterflies, too, are in jeopardy. The number of overwintering Monarchs in Mexico’s forests has declined by 90% or more over the past two decades, placing the iconic annual North American Monarch migration at risk. Read more »
Jo Santiago, a U.S. Forest Service Wildlife Biologist who educates the public on birds through live demonstrations, shows off a Red-tailed Hawk during the “Wings Across America” event. (Photo by Sean Kelley)
When it comes to the U.S. Forest Service, it’s not always about trees.
Sometimes it’s all about the birds, the dragonflies and the butterflies. Oh, and the bats. At least, that’s what it was all about during a ceremony last month recognizing some great contributions from U.S. Forest Service and partner organizations to the Wings Across the Americas program in the past year.
In a festive event held in Omaha, Nebraska, as part of the 80th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, U.S. Forest Service employees and agency partners received shout-outs for outstanding efforts supporting migratory species across the nation and beyond. Read more »
The volunteers worked four hours to get the 710 plants in the ground. NRCS photo.
What’s the buzz going on in Princeton, Ill.? A food fest for our pollinator friends, that’s what.
This is a People’s Garden designed specifically for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The idea came to Ellen Starr, area biologist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, while walking her dog one day.
“Populations of many pollinators are in serious decline,” said Starr, a fan of pollinators. “So what better way to educate the public about the issue than create a garden?” Read more »
A monarch butterfly, a honey bee and an alfalfa leafcutter bee gather nectar from a showy milkweed. Photo by John Anderson of Hedgerow Farms.
Every year, millions of tourists fly from central Mexico into the United States, first stopping in the deep American South and then continuing northward even into parts of southern Canada. How all of this is done without passports, customs agents or airplanes?
This is the annual journey made by monarch butterflies, one of the best-known and most beloved butterflies in North America.
The fact that the annual migration of these distinctive black and orange butterflies spans three countries and thousands of miles makes it an important and prolific pollinator over this large area. Read more »
Participants get an up-close look at one of the critters before it’s released. (Photo courtesy of El Valor)
The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie offers lots of unique educational experiences and opportunities to get involved throughout the year – through public tours, volunteer days and special events.
As part of the “Midewin for Kids” activity series, kids are invited to the prairie for an exploratory hike with a Forest Service environmental education specialist. Read more »