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PNS Daily Newscast - May 23, 2018 


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Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Coming to a Yard Near You

Fans of pollinators warn that Monarch butterfly numbers have fallen by 90 percent. (Pixabay)
Fans of pollinators warn that Monarch butterfly numbers have fallen by 90 percent. (Pixabay)
October 23, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. — Backers of a program to greatly expand pollinators' range say it's about two-thirds of the way to its goal of establishing 1 million pollinator gardens by the end of the year.

The National Pollinator Garden Network has registered 650,000 gardens across the U.S. designed to attract bees and butterflies. Mary Phillips, senior director at he National Wildlife Federation's "Garden for Wildlife" program, said homeowners, businesses and cities are all planting flowers to benefit the pollinators.

"It's very small to very big. Some of these are creating tremendous acres of habitat and others are kind of connecting corridors across urban settings,” Phillips said. "So both of those approaches are equally valuable."

Examples of pollinator-friendly plants include flowering bushes such as buckwheat, and host plants like milkweed. Phillips said vivid red and blue flowers with a bell shape are especially attractive to hummingbirds. Plants that have a long flowering season, from spring to fall, are ideal.

A 9-year-old Pennsylvania boy has created a cell phone app - a game called "Pollinator for a Pet" - to teach people about native-plant pollinator gardens. Kedar Narayan said kids have a big role to play in this effort.

"I see all the adults, they're doing their part, but I see potential in us kids to do our part too,” Narayan said. "And together we can create a new ecosystem - one that will become the United States of Pollinators!"

According to the National Wildlife Federation, one-third of the food Americans eat is pollinated by bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and certain birds and bats. The groups said the Monarch butterfly population has declined by 90 percent over the last 20 years, felled by pesticides, parasites and loss of habitat. They warn that the decline of the monarchs may mean bad news for other pollinators.

You can register your pollinator garden at Polinator.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA