In our vastly urbanized world, there isn’t much natural or undeveloped landscape left for wildlife. Therefore, we must protect our natural and urban forests from further alteration from invasive plants; an easy and fun way to do this is to choose to grow native plants in our gardens and on our landscapes. The Pollinator Pathway Project encourages gardeners to choose to grow native plants rather than exotic or plant species known to be invasive.
Many invasive plants were once considered to be desirable garden and landscape plants that overtime escaped our gardens and caused harm to our natural areas. For example, invasive honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.) were intentionally planted to beautify lawns and were thought to provide habitat and help stabilize roadsides to reduce erosion. Now, invasive honeysuckle has proven to outcompete our native vegetation and alter our natural ecosystems. There are many other examples of exotic plants that were introduced intentionally, to either beautify our landscapes or provide some believed ecological or medicinal benefit, that caused more harm than good and was later determined to be invasive.
There are many specialized relationships that exist between plants, birds, pollinators, and other wildlife that are disrupted by invasive species. This is because native plants have co-evolved with native wildlife and insects. For example, black and pale swallow-worts are invasive vining perennials that outcompete native common milkweed, which is the preferred host of the larvae of monarch butterflies, studies have learned that when monarchs lay their eggs on these invasive swallowworts their larvae die. Learn more about the impacts invasvie swallow-worts have on monarch populations.
The Empire State Pollinator Survey aims to determine the conservation status of a wide array of native insect pollinators in nonagricultural habitats. You can help by collecting specimens or by taking photographs of pollinators that visit your gardens using iNaturalist (view tutorial). To learn more and to get involved, visit the survey WEBSITE or view the HANDBOOK.
St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (SLELO PRISM) and the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County are leading a Pollinator Pathway Project. The main purpose of this project is to encourage gardeners to choose to grow native plants rather than plants that are exotic or known to be invasive. By making this simple choice, you will help stop the spread of invasive plants and provide pollinators with the plants that they have evolved with and rely on for their survival.