There are over 200,000 species of pollinators worldwide that include diverse animals such as bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles and hummingbirds. We owe them much, as it is often said that one out of every three bites of food we enjoy is due to the direct actions of an animal pollinator. In fact, three-quarters of all plants, regardless of whether we eat them or not, depend on animal pollinators in order to reproduce.
When thinking about what to plant to benefit our pollinators (who benefit us so often), a critical factor to consider is the use of native plants. Studies show that native plants are four or more times more attractive to native pollinators than exotic plants. This makes perfect sense since these plants and animals evolved together, sometimes to the point that one cannot exist without the other. For example, many caterpillars cannot survive without their specific native host plant to feed on. About one out of every five of our 450 native bees in the Mid-Atlantic area need the specific pollen of certain native plants or they cannot reproduce. Just any flower or plant simply won’t due.