director Blog : Squash Bee

Like Pumpkin Pie? At Thanksgiving We Need to Thank Pollinators

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.

Squash bees

Some bees are specialists that only pollinate certain plants. This squash bee works the Cucurbita crops—squash and pumpkins. Photo courtesy of Nancy Adamson and the Xerces Society via the Department of Agriculture

But pollinators are at risk from habitat loss, improper pesticide use and introduced diseases.

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Last updated: August 31, 2011