Some attendees trying to determine a species of native bumblebee  (Photo & article by Susan Lipnick)

On June 27, biologist Bev Paulan treated Northwest Illinois Prairie Enthusiasts members and guests to the presentation “Native Plants Need Native Pollinators” at The Prairie Enthusiasts Hanley Savanna in rural Hanover, Illinois. The event, originally scheduled for late June 2020 but postponed because of COVID, was well worth the wait.

Topics included the following:

– Some history as to how native plants and native pollinators have adapted to each other and how the decline of one is contributing to the decline of the other in various areas of the world;

– The kinds of local native plant pollinators, which include bumblebees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, and birds.  In other areas, bats and people are important pollinators;

– The needs of local native pollinators, including specific food and water sources, appropriate nesting sites, and overwintering sites;

 – The dangers certain retail plants present to native pollinators, including cultivars or hybrids of native plants, nonnative plants, pesticides bred into GMO-modified plants;

– Problems resulting from efforts to boost populations of the nonnative honey bee; and

–  Efforts home gardeners and prairie enthusiasts alike can take to boost populations of native plants.  Bev also provided a list of “superfood” native forbs as well as the top five native tree species that support 90% of our local butterflies and moths.  You can find This triptych of useful information on NIPE’s Facebook page, July 1, 2021 post.

After the presentation, attendees took the opportunity to ask questions and explored the prairies, trying to identify native pollinators on native plants. 

Biologist Bev Paulan, presenter. (Photo by Susan Lipnick)