Photograph by Miriam Link Mullison
Love flowers, bees and butterflies? This project is for you.
The Pollinator Habitat Restoration Project is a joint effort of the Friends of Crab Orchard Refuge and U S Fish and Wildlife Refuge staff, to improve feeding and nesting areas for butterflies, moths, bees, hummingbirds, and pollinating flies, wasps, and beetles. It is partially funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Pollinator populations are plummeting worldwide, and while many factors play a role in their decline, habitat loss is a major contributor. This project seeks to increase beneficial habitat for pollinators in Southern Illinois in two ways: through direct plantings on the Refuge and through an interpretive wildflower garden site that encourages community members to include native plants in their landscapes.
Why natives? Though some adult North American pollinators may be able to use nectar and pollen from non-native ornamentals, (such as "butterfly" bushes) they are not able to use them as host plants for their young. Non-native ornamental plant leaves stay pretty because no native caterpillars (baby butterflies!) can eat them.
This project will establish and maintain a 12 acre native prairie field and trail, and a native wildflower demonstration garden in the Pigeon Creek Recreation Area (close to Harmony trail). Partnerships are forming with many community groups and volunteers. Site preparation is underway and planting will begin this fall. Keep those gardening gloves handy! Volunteers will be needed!