Archive for the '#POLLINATORWEEK' Category

#POLLINATORWEEK: Helping Pollinators Help Us

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

A field worthy of a pollinator party.

This is Passport to Texas

Insects…as well as some birds and small mammals… pollinate 80% of native plants in Texas. Without them…

Not to go apocalyptic, but it’s not an exaggeration to say the landscape would be unrecognizable without pollinators.

Texas Parks and Wildlife invertebrate biologist Ben Hutchins says pollinators are in decline, primarily due to changes in habitat.

And so, those characteristic landscapes: the west Texas desert in bloom; or the prairies or the grasslands of North Texas or the Hill Country—those flowering plants wouldn’t persist without pollinators.

There’s something we can all do to bolster pollinator populations.

One of the easiest things to do if you’re in an urban or suburban environment—in rural areas as well—is be on the lookout for native flowering plants that you can plant in a window[box] garden, or in your yard, or along fence rows. Our native pollinators, they’re going to be active early spring through late fall; so we have to think about when these flowers are blooming and provide flowers for these bees and other pollinators in the spring, summer and fall.

Find pollinator resources on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

#POLLINATORWEEK: The Purpose of Pollinators

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

Bee doing what it was put on earth to do.

This is Passport to Texas

The act of pollination… is as old… as time.

Pollination occurs when an animal or a natural vector, like wind, moves pollen from one plant to another.

Plant diversity supports native wildlife and us. Texas Parks and Wildlife invertebrate biologist Ben Hutchins says 80% of native plants and about one-third of agricultural crops depend on pollinators.

Lots of insects pollinate. There are beetles that pollinate. There are flies that pollinate. But what we most often associate with pollination are butterflies and particularly bees.

Texas has about a thousand species of native bees, but like their cousins the European honeybee, their populations are in decline. And without our pollinators…

It’s not an exaggeration to say our landscape would be unrecognizable without pollinators. And even more drastically, all of our native animals that depend on those plants for food, for shelter…those animals couldn’t survive, because 80% of our plants wouldn’t survive.

Tomorrow, what we can do in urban and rural areas to help support pollinator populations. That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

That’s our show for today…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

#POLLINATORWEEK: Milkweed for Monarchs

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018


This is Passport to Texas

More than seventy species of milkweed have been recorded nationwide; over half of those are native to Texas. Including two that are endemic.

These are species that are found nowhere else but within the Texas border. One of them is called Texas Milkweed, which is found in canyons in Central Texas. And then we have a species called Coastal Milkweed that occurs roughly from the Houston area to just north of Brownsville.

Jason Singhurst, a botanist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says milkweeds provide sustenance to the a delightful pollinator—the iconic monarch butterfly—during its migration.

So, here in Texas, we know certain species like green milkweed, antelope horns, broadleaf milkweed, and zizotes are some of our most abundant species that we’re seeing monarch larvae and adults visit.

Because milkweed species vary, do monarchs use each species in the same or different ways?

That’s a really good question. That’s something we’re trying to figure out in Texas. And that’s why we started this mapping project called Texas Milkweeds and Monarchs project—using iNaturalist. It’s an app that you can download on your smartphone. We’re using that project to help us identify different species of milkweeds across the state, and then also which species that larvae, or adult monarch butterflies are visiting.

Find a link to the Milkweeds and Monarchs project on iNaturalist at

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

#POLLINATORWEEK: Native Bumblebees

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

Southern plains bumble bee. Courtesy of Jessica Womack.

This is Passport to Texas

We all know about colony collapse disorder whereby colonies of European honeybees seem to vanish.

Less well known are the threats facing a lot of our native bumblebees.

Michael Warriner is an invertebrate biologist with a soft spot for native bumblebees. Like other native wildlife species in Texas, habitat loss is taking its toll on native bumblebees.

Bumblebees need open, flower-rich habitat—like grasslands. And, a lot of that habitat’s been converted to agriculture.

The threats to these big black and yellow insects doesn’t stop there.

And also, there’s been the importation of bumblebees from Europe into this country which has brought in parasites and diseases that may be impacting them. So, there’s a lot of concern how they’re faring in North America.

One of the threats to Texas bumblebees might actually be honeybees, which have colonies in the tens of thousands compared to the hundreds of insects in a bumblebee colony.

Honeybees have these tens of thousands of workers, and so they can go out and monopolize a flower resource—like nectar or pollen—and that reduces what’s available for our native bees. And there’s some research that suggests that the presence of honeybees in natural sites can reduce native bees.

Find resources for native Texas bumblebees on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show for today…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

#POLLINATORWEEK: Praise for Pollinators

Monday, June 18th, 2018
Bumblebee on bloom.

Bumblebee on bloom.

This is Passport to Texas

What do birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals and bees have in common? They’re all pollinators.

And June 18—24 is National Pollinator Week.

Pollinators visit flowers to drink nectar and to feed on pollen. When they go from bloom to bloom, pollen grains that have attached to their bodies travel with them.

When a pollen grain makes contact with the female part of a flower, pollination occurs. Some plants are self-fertile and do not require outside help. Once pollinated, flowers create seeds or fruits, and ultimately—more plants.

Approximately 1,200 food crops require the help of pollinators. Even the milk you drink had a passing relationship with pollinators via the alfalfa fed to dairy cows.

Because of changes in climate, pesticide applications, pollution, disease and especially land use, we’ve seen declines and even shifts in their populations…which can impact our native wildlife and our food security.

This National Pollinator week; we can be part of the solution by planting native flowering plants in our backyards, balconies, parks and businesses.

Find pollinator resources at

Our show receive support in part by Ram Trucks: Built to serve.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.