text by Sandy Garland, photos by Edgar R. Hernandez

The City of Ottawa’s first Wildlife Speaker event of the season was a big success. WPP brought a display table along with free seeds for pollinators and information about upcoming events in the network. We were mobbed!

At our WPP display table, we gave away free wildflower seeds. We also had our garden signs (lower right) on hand.

During the presentation, Jessica Forrest and Jeff Skevington (both members of our WPP network) both entertained and astonished the enthusiastic audience with facts and stories.

Jessica set us all a quiz – guessing which of her photos showed bees, and which were wasps or flies or even other pollinators. We did surprisingly well.

Jessica made sure we could identify bees, then talked about their important function in pollinating both our food and garden plants.

Then, Jeff made the case for flower flies as better pollinators than bees: they are active in cooler temperatures, they are very fast, and they don’t “steal” the pollen. Unlike bees, which gather pollen to feed themselves and their offspring, flies are only interested in drinking nectar from flowers. They pollinate by landing on successive flowers – just like any other creature, including us, that accidentally brushes against pollen-laden anthers, then touches another flower. Jeff has just coauthored a field guide to the flower flies, which will be available from Princeton University Press any day now.

Jeff introduced us to flower flies, a group responsible for about a third of pollination.

Both presenters answered many questions from the audience, who were obviously interested and informed, but wanted to know more.

For my part, I was delighted to meet so many people who want to do  something to help pollinators. In addition to seeds, we gave out the excellent brochure that WPP member, Berit Erickson, wrote about how she created her “Corner Pollinator Garden” (download it here).

Talking with people who want to help pollinators was such a pleasure. Our network is growing in leaps and bounds.

Big thanks to the city for organizing this event and for their ongoing support for pollinators of all kinds. Amy MacPherson announced that the city will be planting a pollinator garden itself this year, as well as continuing to offer funding to communities that want to do that. Containers on the Laurier side of City Hall and garden beds on the Lisgar side will feature native plants that are especially attractive to pollinators. The city may even install an insect hotel.


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