“Buzzing” Pollinator Habitats are Vital to Nevada’s Ecosystems, Public Health

Monarch resting on sagebrush in central Nevada. Image courtesy of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Monarch resting on sagebrush in central Nevada. Image courtesy of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Submitted by the Nevada Natural Heritage Division of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Did you know that approximately one out of every three bites of food you eat depends on the work of a “pollinator”?

Pollinators – such as bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, and hummingbirds – are keystone species in Nevada, supporting healthy wildlands, ecosystem diversity, and a nutritious food supply.

In recognition of National Pollinator Week, June 18-24, 2018, the Nevada Natural Heritage Program is helping to educate communities about the importance of Nevada’s pollinators, and the vital role these small pollen movers play in supporting our natural environment.

In Nevada, there are thousands of native pollinator species. Native bees are the most critical pollinators in every corner of the State, as their fuzzy bodies make these pollinating powerhouses tremendously efficient at gathering and transferring pollen.

Additionally, there are more than 600 butterfly and moth species in Nevada, from generalists that visit many types of flowers, to specialists such as yucca moths, which are the only insects that can pollinate joshua trees and other yucca species that are prevalent in the Mojave Desert ecosystem.

Nevada’s pollinators are essential to the health of the State’s agriculture, natural resources, and quality of life. Unfortunately, several pollinator species in Nevada have undergone severe declines in recent years, with threats posed by dwindling wetland habitats, invasive species (e.g., cheat grass), and wildland fires. The Nevada Natural Heritage Program continues to actively monitor, track, and provide vital data on pollinator species of concern throughout the State.

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Metallic green sweat bee gathering pollen and nectar from a checkmallow blossom. Monarch resting on sagebrush in central Nevada. Image courtesy of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“The Nevada Natural Heritage Program is dedicated to Nevada’s critical ecosystems, such as wetlands, to help foster flourishing pollinator populations statewide,” said Kristin Szabo, administrator of the Nevada Natural Heritage Program. “Together, we can all take steps – both big and small – to nurture, grow, and enhance our precious pollinators and the habitats where they thrive.”

Interested in helping to protect Nevada’s tiny-but-mighty pollinators? The Nevada Natural Heritage Program shares the following tips to help keep our pollinator habitats buzzing:

  • To help identify the locations and species of pollinators in your area, take photos of pollinator species and upload the images to the iNaturalist App, available on Android and Apple devices. By recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for area scientists working to better understand and protect our natural world.
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals in gardens and lawns.
  • Create a pollinator-friendly garden. Wildflowers and flowering shrubs are the primary food sources for pollinators. Plant native wildflowers in your garden, and/or replace your lawn with native flora. The Nevada Division of Forestry operates two nurseries, located in Washoe County and Las Vegas, which offer native and adapted plants for purchase year round. To learn more, visit forestry.nv.gov/ndf-state-forest-nurseries/
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