Creating and maintaining pollinator friendly habitat
Many types of insects feed on pollen and nectar, although two types of pollinators have received the most attention: bees and butterflies.
April 13, 2016 - Author: David Smitley, MSU Department of Entomology; Diane Brown, Rebecca Finneran and Erwin Elsner, MSU Extension; Joy Landis, MSU IPM; Paula M. Shrewsbury, Univ. of Maryland Dept. of Entomology; and Daniel A. Herms, The Ohio State Univ. Dept. of Entomology
Many types of insects feed on pollen and nectar, although two types of pollinators have received the most attention: bees and butterflies. The best way to encourage bees and butterflies is to grow lots of different types of flowering plants that produce nectar and pollen. Consider how much lawn you maintain and whether any of it could be planted or managed to support more flowers. Consider allowing clover, ground ivy, black medic, vetch, dandelions and other flowering weeds to grow in your lawn, educating others about the benefit of flowering weeds, and helping change local ordinances that prohibit these “weeds” from growing in your area. Incorporate more flowering annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees into your yard and garden so there is always something blooming throughout the season from early spring through autumn.
For natural areas of the yard and garden, or border areas, see the list of native plants below or find a region-specific list of pollinator-friendly plants, like one available at the Michigan State University Native Plants and Beneficial Insects website. Native plants are strongly recommended, but there are also many non-native ornamental plants that are excellent food plants for bees and butterflies. Below are lists of plants that provide pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies.
There are several reasons why it is important to use the genus/species name (scientific name) when you investigate and buy your plants, trees and shrubs. Common names may be regional and could refer to a different type of flower depending upon local tradition. Also, be sure to find the exact species listed below because other species in the same genus may not be attractive to bees. Salvia, for example, is a popular annual bedding plant, but red salvia, which is a popular annual in the north central region, is not attractive to bees while blue salvia, Salvia farinacea, and several types of perennial salvia (Salvia nemorosa) are. Also, some cultivars of flowers may be more attractive than others.