Pumpkin pie is a standard at Thanksgiving dinners around the country, and why not? It is delicious.
Did you realize, though, that without bees to pollinate the pumpkins, our traditional dessert would not be. And without pollinators like bees, bats, birds and butterflies, we could pretty much say goodbye to chocolate, coffee and almonds. Equally scarce would be most fruits and vegetables.
About 75 percent of the world’s food crops and native plants rely on pollinators to produce fruits and seeds. In the United States alone, insect pollinators contributed to more than $29 billion of crops in 2010.
Pollinators are just as important to sustaining functioning ecosystems and food for wildlife. Fruits and seeds derived from insect pollination are a major part of the diet of birds and mammals, ranging from red-backed voles to grizzly bears.
But pollinators are at risk from habitat loss, improper pesticide use and introduced diseases.