A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Kevin Brown, Ag Team Leader, BCCD
Have you ever been told that, or maybe even thought that? Do you see places that aren’t immaculately manicured as “looking like crap”? Have you ever thought that maybe there was a higher purpose for that? One place I am talking about is pollinator habitat. Sure, some of these areas look beautiful in the summer when everything is blooming and when insects, birds, caterpillars and everything else is visiting the area. However, when it has used up its usefulness, we want to get rid of it as soon as possible. After all, “It looks like crap”. I have an area down here at the office that is right by the mailboxes for all the world to see. Sometimes, when I pass by it coming in to work, I even think that. It is old, dead, brown stalks of various flowers still standing 4-6’ tall. It takes me a minute to get past it, but I can because I know why it is there. We have another area at the end of the building which looks even “worse”. At least to us humans. Again, I know why it is there, so I leave it alone for the most part. Most people understand pollinator gardens for the summer. It is pretty easy to see with all the wildlife that visits them, and they are beautiful, so no one complains. However, most people don’t know that this is where a lot of insects overwinter. Because of the way we are trained, it is a lot harder to look at it for the 6 months of winter, standing there dead and all. But it is still serving a purpose.
The insect world has been devastated in recent times. I don’t know the numbers, and it probably varies by source, but the population numbers of pollinators are super low from where they once were. Habitat destruction, sprays, probably reasons we can’t even understand. Don’t care? “They are only insects, and we don’t like insects anyway.” Insects are extremely important to humans for a number of reasons. Just pollination alone accounts for one out of every three mouthfuls of food you eat. Without pollinators, 1/3 of our food takes a serious hit. Insects have a lot to do with decomposition of organic matter, they control other things we really don’t want either (slugs for one). I am sure I could write a number of articles on what they do, but for this article, let’s just say that they are extremely important. Plant a pollinator mix, or let some natural flowers (goldenrod is a fantastic one) grow on their own. Get over the hang-up that it looks bad. That is ONLY our opinion. I once heard someone say that the “only creature that likes things nice and manicured is a human”. How true of a statement is that? I also joke that insects are the only thing that people can kill in an advertisement on tv and not offend anyone! Think about it. You can’t do that with deer, bear, fish, cats, dogs. But be an insecticide and you are a hero.
The second area that may look like this is just an area you don’t mow anymore, or you have planted trees and are letting things grow. I had a person stop in and talk to me and her mother was complaining about how bad it looked. Well maybe to you and I, but what about every other living creature on the face of the earth? They need protection, shelter, prey, and all the things that “messy” areas provide. If we are really serious about the environment, one of the best things we can do is stop interfering in it. Yes, I have a lawn, and yes, I still mow it. But I have also started leaving a lot more area alone so wildlife can have their own little slice of heaven too.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District