ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) launched a new public awareness campaign to protect pollinating insects in yards and gardens, along roadsides and on farms.
Protect Minnesota Pollinators is designed to help the public understand the importance of insect pollinators, not only to our food chain, but also to a healthy environment overall. Pollinator populations, including bees, butterflies, flies, wasps, beetles, moths, etc., are threatened by significant stresses that include a loss of habitat for nesting and foraging, pesticide use, parasites and disease, and other factors.
“Insect pollinators are in trouble and their populations are declining,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, who announced the campaign in the Agriculture/Horticulture Building on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds today. “More than one third of all plants or plant products that we consume are directly or indirectly dependent on insects for pollination, and a decline in pollinators negatively affects us all,” Frederickson said.
The MDA has developed Best Management Practices (BMPs) which urge farmers, landowners and homeowners to “look at our landscapes differently” by reducing negative impacts of pesticides, improving existing landscapes and creating new habitat. BMPs have been developed for yards and gardens, as well as agricultural landscapes; BMPs for roadsides are currently under development.
“It isn’t like Minnesotans to not take action,” said Frederickson. “Whether you live in the city, on a farm, or manage a roadside – we all have a part to play in protecting insect pollinators.”
Over the twelve days of the State Fair, attendees are invited to stop by the MDA booth in the Ag/Hort building and make a Pollinator Promise to help protect pollinators through their individual actions, and then share their stories through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, using #MNpollinatorhero to inspire others to take action.
Possible pollinator promise steps could include:
· Plant more flowers in my yard or on my balcony
· Let early dandelions flower – they have nectar!
· Leave areas of my lawn un-mowed
· Reduce pesticide use
· Find pollinator protection info on pesticide labels
· Set out water bowls and birdbaths for pollinators to drink
· Let clover grow and flower
· Start a beehive
· Spread the word about pollinators – be a #MNpollinatorhero!