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Pesticides and Pollinators

All pollinators are vulnerable to a number of different pesticides. Application of pesticides on flowering plants is the greatest hazard. In 1889, William B. Alwood, horticulturist and pest management specialist at Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Tech) cautioned grape growers in Albemarle County (VA) to not spray their grapes when in bloom to avoid killing honey bees. Professor Alwood's advice is the most important practice of pollinator protection when dealing with pesticides.

Taking Action to Help the Native Pollinators in Your Area

There are plenty of things you can do to help native bees and butterflies thrive in your neighborhood!

You can install solitary bee houses.  You can build or purchase a variety of solitary bee houses, which give bees like orchard mason bees and leafcutter bees, a place to nest.  The Xerces Society is the premier organization when it comes to native bee conservation.  At their website you can find valuable information regarding native bees, but also great information about butterfly conservation, and other invertebrates.



You can plant flowers, bushes, and trees, that are particularly suited to flourish in our ecoregion.  If you want to find planting guides for different parts of the country, you can get your free guide by entering your zip code at the Pollinator Partnership website.  There is also an excellent new app called BeeSmart Pollinator Gardener (for Android and Apple products) from Pollinator Partnership that enables you to select plants for pollinators specific to your area.


Virginia Native Plant Society is a good resource on native plants for pollinators, and has plenty of opportunities to get involved in habitat conservation.



You can protect the environment so the bees have a safer place to live.  One of the most important things you can do for the native pollinators is to use pesticides wisely.  That means, when you must use a pesticide, always follow the label instructions, use only as much as proscribed, and then store or dispose of the pesticide properly.  Specific recommendations for consumers can be found at the Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs website.



You can stay informed by getting science-based information about pesticides, pollinators, and other insects, from reliable sources. Four Facebook sites where you can get started are:

Larry the Label Jr.

Hokie BugFest

Relax, I’m an Entomologist

Let Them Bee


Additionally, Virginia Cooperative Extension has a very good fact sheet on “Native and Solitary bees of Virginia”


Thanks for visiting our page.  Please get active to help protect all the valuable pollinators in your area.

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