USDA celebrates National Pollinator Week, Tucson Botanical Gardens works to protect native species

USDA celebrates National Pollinator Week, Tucson Botanical Gardens works to protect native species
Published: Jun. 20, 2023 at 5:16 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - This week is all about the pollinators that keep the environment alive. The United States Department of Agriculture is celebrating National Pollinator week, and here in southern Arizona, species are hard at work to keep the Sonoran Desert one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.

More than 1,000 native species of bees are found in Southern Arizona, but there are much more animals that hold the title of pollinator.

Along with butterflies, bats, hummingbirds and more, species have adapted to the desert conditions, and some species have even adapted over time to pollinate only one type of specific plant. Despite the number of types of pollinators, their populations are slowly declining.

The Tucson Botanical gardens have implemented programs to save the pollinators and keep Arizona alive and beautiful.

Adam Farrell-Wortman is the director of horticulture at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, and he has collaborated with a local beekeepers to find some solutions to provide a safe shelter for bees.

“We have these bee boxes that are bathed with just a little bit of pheromone,” Farrell-Wortman said. “It’s not enough to bring a swarm to the garden, it’s enough that when a swarm does come to the garden, they are attracted to around 12 boxes in this garden.”

Other habitats were constructed to protect pollinators like bats, which huddle together in this box throughout the night. And for folks wondering how you can help the pollinators at home, Farrell-Wortman says its important to understand that your plants are a part of the environment too.

“Something is to understand that if your plant is being eaten by a bug, then that means your plant is being part of our larger ecosystem, and so that’s okay,” he says. “If you like butterflies a whole lot, then you want the caterpillars to live.”

Other ways you can help keep pollinators healthy in our area is buying fresh produce at farmers markets to buying local honey from a beekeeper nearby. And, if possible, avoid using pesticides to keep the wildlife strong.

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