URBANA — Pollinators are vital to both plant and human life on Earth. In recent years, pollinator populations have declined dramatically, which has prompted an immediate need for their protection and perpetuation on the landscape.
Illinois Pollinators is a free website — illinoispollinators.org — devoted to everything pollinators. From identifying pollinator species to the step-by-step process of starting a pollinator garden or attractive habitat, the site is a one-stop resource for those looking to make an impact on the pollinator population.
“The Illinois Pollinators website is a collaborative project created by University of Illinois Extension educators from all around the state,” said Ryan Pankau, Extension horticulture educator. “It contains Illinois-specific information about pollinating insects and the plants they rely on, plus a ton of great tips you can use to help support local pollinators.”
Illinois Pollinators content can be used to: discover which pollinator species call Illinois home; understand the importance of pollinators in Illinois and globally; identify plants pollinators use; learn about pollinator habitat designs and management tips; explore community science and educational opportunities; and delve into pollinator research at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
“Whether the goal is choosing plants for the landscape or creating the perfect container arrangement for smaller spaces, plant choices affect pollinators and selecting the right plants can have a huge impact on local pollinator populations,” said Erin Garrett, Extension natural resources, environment and energy educator.
“The site’s plant selector tool makes the choice easier. Our plant selector tool includes 95 species of native plants that can both beautify your garden while providing pollinator resources. The site provides information about each plant’s growing conditions, the pollinators it supports and its commercial availability.”
Site users can check out examples of pre-planned gardens or explore plants by filtering the plant species list according to specific site conditions or various plant attributes, such as size, flower color or bloom timing. The plant selection tool allows people to discover beautiful flowering plants that fit landscape preferences, while assisting with pollinators throughout the year.
The site also provides a place to dig into the research surrounding pollinators, their decline and what people can do to help track pollinators by participating in a variety of community science opportunities.
“It is no secret that pollinators are in decline,” said Ken Johnson, Extension horticulture educator. “Together, we can make a difference by teaching others about the importance of pollinators, adopting pollinator-friendly practices at home, or contributing to ongoing science.”