Protecting Pollinators

Know your native pollinators

“Know your native pollinators” is a series of articles that will help you identify and appreciate Florida’s varied pollinators, including bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, birds and bats.

Little Metalmark (Calephelis virginiensis) butterfly. Photo by Mary Keim.
Little metalmark
The Little metalmark is one of the tiniest butterflies, having a wingspan of only 1.2 – 2.5 cm. The silver markings on its wings give members of the Riodinidae family the common name “metalmark.” Host plants of the Little metalmark caterpillar are in the Asteraceae family, and include Purple thistle (Cirsium horridulum), Vanillaleaf (Carphephorus odoratissimus) and Climbing hempvine (Mikania scandens).
Pandorus sphinx (Eumorpha pandorus)
Pandorus sphinx
Pandorus sphinx moths display a camouflaged pattern of green and brown blocks to blend in with the world around them. They are part of the sphinx family (Sphingidae), a group known for large moth species. The host plants of the Pandorus sphinx are grape (Vitis sp.) and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).
Viceroy, Limenitis archippus by Mary Keim
Viceroy and Monarch butterflies are distantly related through the family Nymphalidae. They have evolved to mimic each other through Mullerian mimicry, which is when two species that are both unpalatable to predators evolve to resemble each other for their mutual benefit. Although they are similar, you can spot the differences in a few ways.
Mangrove skipper (Phocides pigmalion) by Bob Peterson
Mangrove skipper
Mangrove skippers stay near their host plant, the Red mangrove. Because of this, Mangrove skippers are only found along the coasts. Although they sometimes stray north all the way to South Carolina, these skippers are usually found south of Volusia and Pinellas counties in Florida.

Create a pollinator pot

The insects that pollinate our food crops and natural areas are in steep decline. Our suburban landscapes are more important than ever in supporting them. Even small changes in your landscape and neighborhood can help build native, natural corridors that provide food, nesting and other resources for insect pollinators.

No place for a garden? No problem! You can create a small oasis for pollinator insects planting pots with Florida’s native wildflowers.

wildflowers planted in pots
Photos by Jen Tyson

More buzz about pollinators

bee boxes
Making a home for native bees
It is more important than ever to make a home for native bees in Florida’s landscapes. Bee expert Dr. Rachel Mallinger of the University of Florida gives tips on the best ways to welcome them to urban landscapes.
Bumblebee on Partridge pea
Celebrate native bees and other pollinators
Do you enjoy juicy watermelons, local blueberries and strawberries and fresh Florida orange juice? How about carrots, broccoli, almonds and apples? If you do, please thank an insect. Learn more about our pollinators — especially native bees — and why they are so important.
Bees on Softhair coneflower, Rudbeckia mollis
Insects need us, and we need them
Insect populations are falling at alarming rates all around the world because of pesticide use, our climate crisis and habitat loss. It’s time to ask yourself: What have I done for insects lately? If the answer is “nothing,” you can take action now with this simple plan.
Monarch on Butterflyweed flower
Monarchs and milkweed: What you need to know
The Monarch butterfly’s demise has captured America’s attention. You can help by using native milkweed species in your landscape. Find out what you need to know to help save Monarchs.
Xerces milkweeds conservation guide cover
Review of Xerces Society’s Milkweed Guide
The monarch’s population decline has caused great concern in the last few years. The Xerces Society’s insight into factors that influence monarch butterfly populations has pointed to many things we cannot control. However, the increased production and planting of the monarch food plants, milkweeds, is certainly an environmental movement that can be achieved on a large scale in the United States.
Cloudless sulphur butterfly on Heart-leaf brickell-bush flower
Webinar: Creating Pollinator Pathways
Learn about creating pollinator pathways in the built environment during a free webinar on July 7 featuring Dr. Jaret Daniels, who will explain how every landscape, large and small, is now critical to supporting the biodiversity that keeps our ecosystems functioning.

Resources for attracting pollinators

Plant selection guide
This guide includes over 120 Florida native wildflowers, shrubs, vines and grasses that work well in home landscapes. It will help you choose plants based on your location, soil and light conditions, color and season of bloom, and pollinator use.
Read more Plant selection guide