Sustaining Native Pollinators

UM-Dearborn Alumna, Mary Fastiggi, creator of the Pollinator Garden
UM-Dearborn Alumna, Mary Fastiggi, creator of the Pollinator Garden
UM-Dearborn Alumna, Mary Fastiggi, creator of the Pollinator Garden

Insects and invertebrates, such as bees, butterflies, ladybugs, centipedes, and wasps, perform many essential ecosystem service functions, such as pollinating many of our flowers and crops, or controlling unwanted pest species. Unfortunately, many of these beneficial insects, especially pollinators, have been experiencing population declines as a result of a myriad of factors, including climate change, parasite and disease infestations, exposure to harmful chemicals and pesticides, and shrinking habitat availability. In the past few years, more attention has been given to the perilous state of beneficial insects in North America, and increasingly greater efforts are being made to educate the public about the importance of maintaining and improving the long-term sustainability of populations of native pollinators, and native plant-pollinator connections and interactions in landscapes in urban areas. Insects and invertebrates, such as bees, butterflies, ladybugs, centipedes, and wasps, perform many essential ecosystem service functions, such as pollinating many of our flowers and crops, or controlling unwanted pest species. Unfortunately, many of these beneficial insects, especially pollinators, have been experiencing population declines as a result of a myriad of factors, including climate change, parasite and disease infestations, exposure to harmful chemicals and pesticides, and shrinking habitat availability. In the past few years, more attention has been given to the perilous state of beneficial insects in North America, and increasingly greater efforts are being made to educate the public about the importance of maintaining and improving the long-term sustainability of populations of native pollinators, and native plant-pollinator connections and interactions in landscapes in urban areas.

The Center’s Pollinator Garden originated in 2013 when seed money was provided via an Ed Bagale Difference Maker Award given to UM-Dearborn student, Mary Fastiggi, for her proposal to build a garden specifically designed to attract butterflies and a variety of other pollinators to campus. The Pollinator Garden was located along the Rouge River Gateway Trail just to the north of the Environmental Interpretive Center. Native perennial plant species were chosen based on a number of factors, including their importance as nectar sources, and/or as host plants for egg laying and rearing larvae, sensory engagement, and aesthetic value. Volunteers were recruited for several action days to help clear brush, establish the general garden layout, install weed control fabric, transplant plugs, and spread mulch. Since then, among its many uses, the garden has been used for community outreach in the Pollination Partnership Program, as well as for hands-on, sensory gardening experiences for the Center’s Birding by Ear Program for blind and visually-impaired youth. The most recent addition to the Pollinator Garden is its striking Insect Hotel, a home designed specifically for beneficial garden visitors of all kinds.

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