Butterfly and Pollinator Garden

An Introduction

What is a pollinator? What do they do?

  • Pollinators are animals (primarily insect, but sometimes avian or mammalian) that fertilize plants, resulting in the formation of seeds and the fruit surrounding seeds.
  • Pollinators are necessary for three-quarters of our major food crops. So without them we would not have fresh food.

Generalized threats

  • Declines are in both diversity and biomass which translates up the food chain to lower biomass in birds, frogs and other species which rely on insects directly as a source of protein.
  • Many specific species, such as monarch butterflies, are endangered. Bumblebees in Europe and North America are in decline due to colony collapse disorder
  • 42% of terrestrial invertebrates, 24% of fresh water and 25% of marine invertebrate species are at risk of extinction.

Specific threats - Insects

  • Widespread use of insecticide
  • Decline in habitats that favor insects (from wetlands to forests)
  • Decline in specific plants which support insect populations (milkweed)
  • Climate change (presents a mixed picture for insects – with warmer temperatures favoring some species while others fall victim to severe events such as fires, repeated and prolonged droughts and severe storms).
  • Effects of other pollutants
  • Invasive species, which includes new populations of insects which edge out native species as well as invasive pathogens

Specific threats - Bats

  • Bat populations have been decimated by a fungal infection called White Nose Syndrome
  • In North America, White Nose syndrome started here in New York. Howe Caverns is basically ground zero for white nose.
  • White Nose Syndrome has been detected in Europe and Asia, however bats there do not seem to be effected by it the way that North American bats are.
  • Humans are the likely the vector by which White Nose Syndrome arrived in North America

What we plan to do

  • Plant wildflowers and milkweed to attract pollinators and butterflies
  • Have students collect data on which pollinators visit the garden
  • Share information on Citizen Science projects

Taking Data - 3rd Grade

Taking Data - 4th Grade

Citizen Science Projects

https://scistarter.org/butterflies-moths-of-north-america - Butterfly and moth counting via photos

· https://scistarter.org/monarch-larva-monitoring-project - Monarch larva counting (milkweed only)

· https://scistarter.org/bumble-bee-watch - Bumble Bee Monitoring via photos

Benefits of This Approach

  • Pollinator gardens begin attracting pollinators immediately
  • Can use them to take data and contribute those to scientists – they will be doing real science


  • Bees are essential for our existence they pollinate 30% of our crops and 90% of wild plants of what we eat (https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/bees.pdf)
  • Bees do not attack – but they will defend themselves and their hives
  • Do not swat them, or bother them in any way. Just watch them do their important work
  • This is an Opt-in program

Butterfly and Pollinator Garden - Google Slides