Bumble bee on flower


Insects are a crucial food source for wildlife species. Many insects also pollinate the food that humans eat. Unfortunately, recent indications are that some populations of pollinators such as bumble bees may be declining. Several insect species have recently been listed, or are petitioned to be listed, under the Endangered Species Act. Perhaps most notable is the monarch butterfly. Scientists are still trying to understand the cause of their decline and if they are indeed are at risk of extinction. There are actions North Dakotans can take to help conserve insects, which will also benefit other wildlife and wildlife habitat.

What is a pollinator?

Pollinator on cone flower

A pollinator is any animal that moves pollen from one part of a flower to another plant. Pollen fertilizes the plant, and only fertilized plants make seeds or fruit. Without pollination, plants cannot reproduce and our food supply and habitat would be reduced.

In North Dakota, the principal pollinators are insects such as native bees, butterflies and some moths. North Dakota has about 150 species of butterflies, more than 1,400 moths, and an unknown number of bee species (probably hundreds). Bats and birds, while important pollinators in other states, are not considered significant pollinators in North Dakota.

Honey bees, although not native to North America, are vital agricultural pollinators and will benefit from pollinator conservation in North Dakota.

Informational Video: Honey Bee/Pollinator Research Study

Monarch Butterfly

Adult monarch butterfly

Monarch butterflies are perhaps the most easily recognized butterfly. However, the population has declined from a high of almost 1 billion monarchs in 1996 to a low of 35 million in 2013. It is estimated that at least 225 million monarchs are needed to sustain the population for the long term. In 2014, the monarch was petitioned to be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

There are many ways citizens can help monarchs in North Dakota. Help scientists learn more about the distribution and abundance of breeding monarchs by signing up for the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.

Citizen Science links:

Informational video: Monarch Larva Monitoring

North Dakota Monarch Butterfly and Native Pollinator Strategy

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department and numerous other partners developed a North Dakota Monarch Butterfly and Native Pollinator Strategy in 2016. This strategy describes the efforts - habitat conservation, education and outreach, and research and monitoring - that have recently been implemented or are proposed to be implemented for monarchs and other native pollinators in North Dakota. The strategy will be a “living document” for the next 5 years, or until 2020, to implement conservation efforts and demonstrate success so that the monarch and other important native pollinators are not listed as threatened or endangered.

Native plant garden over 4 year period

Gardening for Monarchs and Pollinators

You can grow a butterfly garden of any size, from a few square feet to an acre or more. These gardens benefit monarchs and other pollinators while beautifying your yard or landscape.

Informational video: Pollinator Plots

Informational video: Pollinator Plots Education

More Pollinator Information

Mimicry in Insects and other Animals

Other Helpful Links