NYC Urban Park Rangers gave a guided tour of the pollinator gardens and beyond to explain how insects, birds and bats share the role of pollinators at a free Parks Department Plants and Pollinators Walk held by the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center on Sunday.
“We have a great pollinator garden over there that’s maintained by the Salt Marsh Alliance,” Park Ranger Ian Evans said as he pointed out two areas near the entrance to the Salt Marsh that, upon closer inspection, contain a vast array of plants where several species of bees and butterflies congregated around their favorite flowers.
For instance, monarch butterflies were found on the butterfly bush, which had clusters of purple flowers. Nearby were milkweed plants, another favorite of the monarch, which flowered last month and now hold seed pods for the following year’s crop of plants.
“What’s nice about this pollinator garden is that they planted a bunch of stuff that flowers at different times of the year, so that’s what’s important because if you plant just one kind of flower, it’s all going to pollinate at one time and the bees have to eat year round,” Evans said.
Evans pointed out three bat boxes placed high up on a pole and a back wall of the Nature Center meant to attract bats who are also important pollinators and consume large amounts of mosquitos.
He pointed at the zinnia, echinacea and marigold flowers and said that they attract honeybees because of their mouth structure. “Whereas a butterfly has a long tongue to stick into flowers, all the honeybee needs to do is to go on the surface of the flower to get the pollen.” Larger bee species, like the bumblebee is attracted to the pokeberry plant, woodcutter bees look for wood instead of flowers and smaller bees that burrow in the ground during the winter rather than live in a beehive were all in their own sections of the garden.
During the walk, Evans, along with Park Rangers Liang Yi Jiang and Casey Ryan, talked about how the different species of insects, birds and other animals each played a role in the delicate balance of nature that takes place in a flourishing ecosystem. Cranes flew overhead and a groundhog who likes to sit on a tree stump behind the Nature Center gave further indication of this natural environment for all to enjoy.