Missouri state parks provide refuge for Missouri pollinators during National Pollinator Week

The leafcutter bee (pictured above) is one of the many types of bees that reside in Missouri and provides valuable pollinating benefits to native plants. People can learn about the bees found in Missouri at a free Missouri Department of Conservation online program on Aug. 14.

Missouri State Parks is supporting National Pollinator Week, providing refuge for Missouri pollinators throughout the state. 

Pollinators must have flowers for the nectar and pollen that feeds them and their offspring. 

The ecosystems of most state parks and historic sites grow native wildflowers at a grand scale. 

Missouri state parks have the means, mission and opportunity to foster flowers in extraordinarily large numbers, among hundreds of species, over large spaces and in richly diverse landscapes, through the full growing season year-after-year-after-year.

State parks and historic sites are nature preserves with vast acreage that have a significant effect.

As part of the Missouri State Parks mission and dedication to the state of Missouri, impacts are made in three major ways: Preserving large natural environments, sustaining prescribed burn rotations and combating noxious invasive weeds.

According to Missouri State Park, natural landscapes are filled with rich mosaics of native ecosystems, each with their signature array of flowering plants to feed native pollinators. 

The large nature preserves in state parks support rich pollinator populations and perpetuate abundant nest habitat among all the right kinds of specialty foods, providing reservoirs of pollinator diversity in Missouri.    

For many natural communities, fire brings light and opportunity for Missouri’s more than 2,000 plant species. 

Prescribed fire lets plants thrive, induces floral richness and diversity and promotes flower abundance. Healthy, diverse pollinator populations need this variety and abundance of flower types across multiple natural communities for the entire growing season.

The greatest contemporary threat to otherwise healthy natural places is losing the variety and abundance of flowers to an overwhelming surge of exotics. Controlling exotic and invasive weeds protects the native plants and the natural ecosystems pollinators need. 

Every state park and historic site has a plan dedicated to exotic species control with an annually updated list of weed control projects, varying by season.

National Pollinator Week, June 21-27, was designated per proclamation signed by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan. 

The week aims to elevate awareness of pollinator importance and inspires practices to benefit those crucial to pollination and seed production in the state’s native wildflowers, native trees and shrubs and many kinds of food and forage plants. 

Missouri is home to 460 types of bees, several hundred species of butterflies and moths, many species of flower flies, hummingbirds and several kinds of ants, wasps and beetles that serve these pollinating roles.

Residents can learn more at https://pollinator.org/.

For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com.