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Mid-Atlantic Regional Reports

How You Can Be a Pollinator Partner

This bumblebee pollinates a purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens, Zones 3–8) flower.

As gardeners, we already know that insects play a vital role in our environment. Granted, some of them do cause damage, but even then, some chewed leaves are a small price to pay when we consider the bigger picture. If we want butterflies, for instance, then we accept that we’ll have caterpillars feeding on our plants too. We also know that accepting some pest insects provides a steady food supply for the “good guys” who help to keep the plant-eaters in check.

The latest buzz in the gardening world is the issue of protecting the insects that pollinate the plants we depend on for food. “Pollinators are necessary for three-quarters of our major food crops, but worldwide, pollinator populations are shrinking,” points out Connie Schmotzer, horticulture educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension (York County) and head of Pennsylvania’s Master Gardener pollinator garden certification program. “The good news is that…

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