Insects can be homeless, too

It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your butterflies are?

Barbara Ebell shows off one of the bush hives of bees at Nanoose Edibles Farm in Nanoose Bay.

It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your butterflies are?

That’s a question Barbara Ebell hopes more people will be asking themselves in the future.

Ebell, the co-owner of Nanoose Edibles Farm, said gardeners and farmers alike depend on pollinating insects, but they often don’t take into account their need to have somewhere dry to spend the night — and the winter.

“There’s a lack of understanding among people developing land that they need to leave room for pollinators,” she said. “They need to maybe leave a wild area and make sure it has the kind of environment where insects can overwinter.”

Ebell said the crisis in the bee population is well-known, but extends to other pollinating insects as well. Although disease and parasites play a significant role, she said a lack of habitat is also of concern.

“The pollinators are having a seriously tough time of it,” she said. “It’s not just honey bees. There are a dozen varieties of bumble bees and there are all kinds of tiny little bees that you wouldn’t even recognize that also pollinate, as do moths and butterflies. They aren’t flying in from a great distance. They are already here.”

However, in many of the perfectly-manicured subdivisions being built in the area, no thought is given to where these insects will stay when they aren’t flying from plant to plant.

Ebell stressed even a well-groomed garden can leave a space for insects to bed down for the night.

“If you’re going to cut down a tree, leave a section of it with the bark on,” she said. “Bark acts like the roof on a house. It keeps them dry. You can landscape it right in as a feature.”

Ebell hopes to get that message across this Sunday when Nanoose Edibles hosts a Pollinators Picnic, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the farm on Stewart Road in Nanoose Bay. The event will feature talks by experts on pollination and pollination plants, a tour of the farm, a beehive demonstration, and a pot luck picnic supper to wrap things up.

“We thought It might be helpful if people walked around and thought about where the insects live the rest of the year when they’re not flying around, doing the pollination thing.”

She said the picnic will feature food that’s grown in the Oceanside area as much as possible.

“We are encouraging people to bring food or beverage items of local origin,” she said, noting people would do well to bring along a chair, plate cup and cutlery.”

For more information contact Carolyn Jordan at 250-468-2332.

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