pollinator information

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pollinator information

Globally, more than 80% of flowering plants rely on pollinators to reproduce. By extension, the health of the worldwide ecosystem, food supply, and economy depends on this symbiotic relationship. In other words, without pollinators, humans cannot sustain life on this planet. Concerningly, worldwide pollinator populations have declined sharply over the last few decades. Beekeepers in the United States have lost nearly a third of their colonies every year since 2006. Monarch populations are also dwindling. The USDA has identified multiple stressors contributing to pollinator population decline, including pollutants and toxins, habitat loss, climate instability/climate change, agricultural production intensification, poor pollinator and crop management, nutritional deficits, invasive species and pests, and reduced genetic diversity in pollinators and crops, to name a few. But we are far from helpless in addressing this situation. 

Residents can take several steps to support the pollinator population

Pollinator Gardening Tips
  • Plant native flowering plants. Get a list for your zip code at nwf.org/nativeplants.
  • Reduce the size of your grass lawn and replace it with native blooming plants. Find more tips about creating garden habitats here
  • Attract hummingbirds by planting dense shrubs for nesting and native plants with bright red and orange tubular flowers for food. Supplement as needed with a nectar feeder.
  • Plant host plants. Butterflies need special “host plants” as food for their caterpillars. Monarchs, for example, rely on milkweed, so planting it will provide essential habitat. Find host plants for butterflies and moths native to your area at nwf.org/nativeplants.
  • Avoid Pesticides. Native plants attract ladybugs, predatory wasps, and other natural enemies of garden pests. These insects are a sign of a healthy garden, and an important food source for birds. No need to spray pesticides. Hand-pick pests if you have an infestation or wash them off with a stream of water from a hose. If you must spray: Only use organic or natural pest deterrents such as soap, garlic and chili pepper; spray only at night, when flowers are not blooming, and when it’s dry and windless; use products that target specific pests rather than broad-spectrum ones; avoid anything labeled as toxic to bees or that kills the “weedy” flowers pollinators visit; specifically avoid garden products that include neonicotinoids; and carefully read and follow application instructions on any spray, using them sparingly. The City of Columbia Heights does not use insecticide sprays or neonicotinoids in any of its management of parks or open spaces. The only insecticide used by the City is to prevent selected ash trees from dying due to the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. That chemical is not sprayed, but injected directly into the tree sparingly once every two to three years. 

LESS Mow May

LESS MOW MAY - CopyOn March 11, 2024, the Columbia Heights City Council amended its No Mow May resolution to adopt Resolution 2024-23 in support of Less Mow May, which better reflects guidance to protect pollinators.  

Less Mow May encourages residents to mow their yards less frequently and/or raise the height of their mower blades through the month of May. This can help protect overwinter habitat and allow flowering plants to bloom, providing early season nectar for pollinators such as bees, birds, and beetles. The decision by the City Council applies to all years going forward, so there will be no need to renew the resolution each spring. 

  • View the full resolution here.
  • To download a flyer for personal use, go here 
  • Interested in purchasing a yard sign? The City is selling Less Mow May yard signs for $15, including tax. Signs are 24”w x 18”h and include a metal stake. To purchase, stop by City Hall (3989 Central Ave NE) between 8 am - 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. To reserve a sign, call 763-706-3615.

Leave the Leaves
According to the National Wildlife Federation, many wildlife species use the fallen leaf layer as their primary habitat, including salamanders, chipmunks, wood frogs, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, millipedes, and thousands of pollinators. Some pollinator species overwinter as eggs, some as pupae, and some as adults. One way to support local pollinators, then, is to leave a leaf layer on portions of your property in the fall, and refrain from raking leaves in spring until daytime temperatures are consistently 50 degrees or higher. You may not want to clear out the leaves at all, since they are a natural mulch. A leaf layer, however, is not good for standard lawn grass, so be sure to clear out leaves in the fall and spring in areas where you want lawn grass to thrive, but consider shrinking the amount of space in your yard dedicated to lawn grass because it's much less helpful to pollinators than native vegetation and flowering plants. The maintenance of lawn grass also requires practices that disrupt pollinators. 

Sustainable Landscape Design
Learn how to grow landscapes to help pollinators(External link), and the basics of planting and maintaining a bee lawn, tips provided by the University of Minnesota Extension Office.

(External link) fmayors' monarch pledge
In 2021, the City of Columbia Heights participated in the Mayors' Monarch Pledge, a national pollinator initiative to help the Monarch butterfly population and other species affected by climate change, diminishing food and habitat spaces, and pesticide use. The National Wildlife Federation encourages communities to create habitat for the monarch butterfly and pollinators and educate residents about how they can make a difference. Columbia Heights renewed its pledge in 2022 and 2023. Learn more about the initiative here.
  • Volunteers needed. Help with pollinator projects and other activities that support the pledge. To join the Monarch Pledge Volunteer Committee, email monarch@columbiaheightsmn.gov.