This post has less to do with strictly native plants and more to do with being informed about the impacts of insecticides on beneficial insects, including bees.
More Native Plants = More Native Pollinators, especially bees. In my own yard, by the end of this summer, I counted up to 16+ native bee species, including the bees pictured above and below (Melissodes bimaculata, or 2-Spotted Long-Horned Bee). I could see the male long-horns sleeping communally in my native Indian Grasses near the front walkway every night as the sun set and could see them start stirring in the morning as the sun rose every day. Suddenly, in August, almost all bees species disappeared. This occurred after a Vector Control Mosquito Sprayer vehicle from the city came through our neighborhood on our block. In my subsequent correspondence with the city’s Health Department Director, I found (on my own and not from the director) that the chemical used to kill the mosquitos is highly toxic to bees, not only at the time of spraying but days after.
I had no idea that the city would do this. They received a certain number of complaints about mosquitoes and because of this the city deployed their Vector Control vehicle. I asked if I can request that my house not be sprayed as it is detrimental to my pollinators who I have intentionally attracted and provided habitat for in my yard. Their answer was no. So, to my dismay, people can request to have the air sprayed for mosquitoes but I cannot request to have my own yard free of chemicals being sprayed on it.
I am not the only one who has been concerned with this matter. Through my contact with Xerces Society after this happened I was put in touch with someone else in the city who was upset because they had been out walking their dog when the Vector Control vehicle went through and sprayed this person and their dog. They too were worried about the impact on their bee population along with the health of the other people and animals in the community. I am currently sifting through the literature Xerces sent to me to try to put together some alternative method to present to the city so they can take a more preventive approach to the benefit of all who live in our community.
This post will be continued at a later date when I have more progress to report. We can’t say we’re worried about our pollinators disappearing, then turn around and spray insecticide where they live. It’s extremely counterproductive. And all the while, the city is promoting “Milkweed For Monarchs” to encourage success of monarchs and their offspring. I would just assume not attract any insects to my neck of the woods if they are just going to get sprayed by insecticide. More thoughtful approaches and communication between city departments would be appreciated.