Become a Pollinator Expert

The Chillicothe Public Library is offering an eight-session program series in 2019 called “Pollinators: What’s the Buzz?” The library is partnering with community members, scientists, museums and conservation groups to bring an in-depth exploration of topics related to pollinators and their interactions with humans. Attendees are invited to become citizen scientists through hands-on activities such as raising butterflies at home and participating in a photography contest. 

Pollinator Fast Facts

  • About 75 percent of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization. 
  • About 1,000 of all pollinators are vertebrates such as birds, bats and small mammals. 
  • Most pollinators (about 200,000 species) are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths and bees. 
  • One third of all foods and beverages are delivered by pollinators, including blueberries, chocolate, coffee, melons, peaches, pumpkins, vanilla and almonds.  
  • In the U.S., pollination accounts for the production of nearly $20 billion worth of products annually.

Source: The Pollinator Partnership, pollinator.org

Pollinators—such as bees, butterflies, beetles and flies—are responsible for three quarters of our major food crops, including fruits, vegetables and nuts. Kicking off the series last month, master naturalist Mike Conratto discussed pollinators and their importance to human food production, other ways they improve our lives, and how we can help protect endangered pollinator species. In the second session on February 26th, he will share tips on how to make gardens more colorful and fruitful in “Gardening for Pollinators.” The remainder of the series will be taught by other educators and scientists, with a focus on how to actively support pollinators in the environment: 

  • March 21st: Dr. Abigail Derby Lewis, senior conservation ecologist at The Field Museum, will discuss why what you plant matters, focusing on the impact of urban habitat on people and nature. She will highlight The Field Museum's Urban Monarch Conservation program and how small and midsized cities can support monarchs and other pollinators. Peoria is one of the pilot cities working with the museum in this study.
  • April 4th: Biologist Andrew Diallesandro will take a close look at the rusty patched bumble bee, recently declared an endangered species. Greater Peoria has been chosen as a target area for increasing the bee’s population. He will discuss efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in this area and what you can do to help.
  • May 23rd: Lesley Deem, director of the University of Illinois Pollinatarium, and Mike Contratto will discuss various ways to capture photographic images of pollinators in action and share information about citizen-scientist websites where you can view and post photos. 
  • June 20th: Beekeeper/educator Steve McNair will provide an overview about honeybees, share tips about how to get started in beekeeping, and talk about some of his unique bee-related projects.
  • July 18th: The Central Illinois Monarch Butterfly Task Force will demonstrate how to raise monarch and swallowtail butterflies at home. Attendees will build a butterfly cage to take home and explore the library’s prairie for eggs or caterpillars they can raise.
  • August 29th: Angella Moorehouse, field biologist and natural areas preservation specialist with the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission, explains how she uses pollinator photography to identify native pollinators and document the flowers they visit, their habitats and their behavior. She will also announce the winners of a citizen-science photography contest.

For more information, call (309) 274-2719 or visit chillipld.org. 

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