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The Changing World for Pollinators: Part 2

Henlo again everyone, it’s Sasha from Think-Team. For today’s topic, I will continue part two of the blog that I shared last week, if you missed the first one, don’t worry, you can check it here!

Hmm, where were we? For a quick recap, I already wrote the basic stuff about why the pollinators are slowly hard to find in the cities, if you live in a semi to modern housing complex you can try to observe it yourself in your own home garden. I also mentioned a little background about why insect pollinators are beneficial for urban areas and one of the bee species that are seemed to be more susceptible to live in the cities.

You might be wondering why cities could have any role in maintaining the existence of insect pollinators, in contrast to the popular narratives that mostly stated the major land-use change is the reason why natural species is declining. If managed properly, the open spaces in urban areas would act as an alternative to preserve the existence of insect pollinators.

Cities that located in coastal and riparian areas are potential to become temporary havens for many animal species as once-open lands are transformed into agriculture and development, including insects. Moreover, the over usage of pesticides is less likely found in the cities. One study has shown that wild bees and bumblebees are particularly more susceptible to pesticides than other insect pollinators. This could also be the reason why their diversity is greater in the city where pesticides play a lesser role.

Enhancing and restoring habitat is crucial to protect biodiversity and as I mentioned earlier, urban ecosystems could act as a "median" for nesting and foraging grounds for insect pollinators. Good nesting opportunities in the cities can be found in places that we sometimes overlook on daily basis like exposed soils, dead wood, and wall cavities. If added with large variety of flowering plants in parks and gardens, this will ensure their food supply.

Several cities in Europe are beginning to create many green landscapes and small-scale (patch) habitats that could provide nesting and food (floral) resources. High-quality patches, when connected, have many benefits for wildlife. Connections in these patches enable individual insects to move among populations, increasing genetic diversity and perhaps halting the declines in population. These patches also provide habitat for many insect species to move as they shift their ranges in response to climate change. Some taxa like the butterflies (Hymenopteran) could use these patchy landscapes in urban areas as migratory stopovers while on their way to the adjacent natural ecosystems.

Furthermore, the existence of botanical gardens, residential gardens, and even semi-private horticulture practices in the cities are proven to promote urban conservation. Engaging city planners and residents in developing habitat of insect pollinators would support the conservation practice as well as contributing in educational purposes. Even though complying with these efforts in heavily populated cities are seem to be near impossible because of the lack of open spaces, but we can still create the effort in our home.

You can create a mini-habitat by adding a pollinator garden to your yard or balcony. I’ve noticed from my personal experiences that the interest in home-gardening is increased recently due to work from home situation even if you have very limited spaces. In case you might want to try to invite insect pollinators to your home, flowering plants and shrubs like jasmine, fragrant randia, bluewings, and orchids are attractive to the pollinators. Also, don’t forget to reduce the use of pesticides and not to use the plants that have been pre-treated with neonicotinoids as these kinds of pesticides can stay longer in plant tissues.

That made me wonder, if you have enough spaces in your home, what kind of plants that you would (try to) plant? Or maybe, you already start taking care of some green buddies to accompany you during this pandemic? Did you notice any insect pollinators that have visited your flowery plants? Please comment your experience below!


More readings:

The city as a refuge for insect pollinators. Conserv Biol. 2017 Feb;31(1):24-29.

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