Panel No. 5
SUNLIT TRAIL EDGES
Bees are not the only wild pollinators -- beetles, butterflies, moths and ants also pollinate plants. All of these pollinators flourish in sunlit areas where wildflowers grow in abundance.
Woodland habitats present a challenge to wildflowers and their pollinators. After early spring, when the trees leaf out, wildflowers require more sunlight than is available in densely wooded environments. Thus, small sunny areas that appear in forest clearings, such as meadows and trail edges, are key to pollinator biodiversity.
Rockefeller State Park Preserve's Swan Lake Meadow is an example of how meadows sustain pollinator ecosystems. In June of 2015 and 2016, explosions of wildflowers in Swan Lake Meadow were attended by a corresponding surge of pollinators. On a single day in mid-June, visitors to the meadow identified 34 species of wildflowers in bloom, all of which were visited by pollinators--among them, 17 species of wild bees and scores of the beautiful butterfly known as the great spangled fritillary. Monarch and swallowtail butterflies and pollinating beetles and ants visited the meadow as well.
In 2015-2016, Rockefeller State Park Preserve made special efforts to plant and protect wildflowers along trail edges. This has resulted in the appearance of diverse species of wild bees. Among these are the Osmia georgica mason bee shown below, a rare find in the region of New York in which the park is located. This bee is now found in abudance in the park, feeding on wild asters that rim trail edges.
(c) Copyright 2016 Paula Sharp and Ross Eatman. All rights reserved.