Bees, birds and butterflies

A honeybee lands on a flower Wednesday in the pollinator garden at the University of Wyoming.

SHANNON BRODERICK/Boomerang photographer

SHANNON BRODERICK

A week of events celebrating pollinators and the vital work they do is coming to Laramie.

With national and statewide designations for Monday-June 26, Pollinator Week is a time to recognize the essential role played by bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, bats, wasps, flies, moths and other insects in the ecosystem, said Brenna Marsicek, outreach coordinator at the University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute.

“Without them, we wouldn’t have most fruits, vegetables and nuts, the flowering prairies around town or many of the medicines we rely on,” she said.

Pollinators are organisms that move pollen from flower to flower, which helps plants reproduce and grow, thus creating many foods and other materials humans use in their daily lives. They also contribute to the health and diversity of forests, grasslands and other ecosystems.

The aim of Pollinator Week is to educate people about the importance of pollinators as well as their struggles.

Wyoming is home to hundreds of species of pollinators. Some native species such as bumblebees and leaf-cutter bees are in decline, probably because of habitat loss, Marsicek said.

As part of the week’s activities, two pollinator gardens will be planted in town. A pollinator garden is a garden in which the plants are chosen based on their ability to provide habitat or food for pollinators. For example, some plants may provide food for caterpillars, nectar for butterflies or pollen for bees.

“There are a lot of plants to choose from, and a lot of them are native,” Marsicek said.

The public is invited to help install a garden along the fence surrounding the train in Depot Park from 10 a.m.-noon Tuesday.

The garden is being planted in conjunction with the installation of a public art piece by Brandon Ballengée called “Love Motel for Insects: Laramie Depot Park Variation.” Ballengée, an artist and biologist, is installing the temporary piece as part of a series of installations around the world that use ultraviolet lights on sculpted canvas to attract insects, allowing people to interact with nocturnal species.

A pollinator festival will also be taking place as part of the day’s events, with hands-on activities for participants.

“Once you’re done planting you can go to the different booths and learn more about pollinators,” Marsicek said.

The Depot Park garden will have a mix of annual and perennial flowers so it can benefit pollinators right away as well as have a long-lasting impact, she said.

A second pollinator garden is set to be installed along the southern tip of the Laramie River Greenbelt. The garden site is on a parcel of Union Pacific land undergoing environmental remediation, so the public is not able to help with planting, Marsicek said.

Environmental consulting company CH2M Hill, along with the UW Roar club, will be planting the garden Thursday. Top soil will be brought into the site, which sits next to a bench looking toward the mountains. Mostly seeds will be used, some of which might not come up until spring 2017.

“It’ll be a really nice product once we’re finished,” Marsicek said.

Other activities scheduled for the week include a series of talks at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday on the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center deck. Topics include butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and gardening for pollinators, with an activity or tour to follow each talk.

At 9 p.m. Friday on the lawn outside the Williams Conservatory, there will be a free outdoor screening of the DisneyNature movie “Wings of Life,” about the lives of bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and bats. Viewers should bring a blanket or lawn chair. Tours of the conservatory will be available starting at 8:15 p.m.

Two pollinator events are set for June 25. From 9 a.m.-noon at Albany County Public Library, learn how to identify and attract pollinators in your yard. From 1-4 p.m. on the Williams Conservatory south lawn, learn about all kinds of insects during Creepy Crawler Day.

A coloring contest is being held for artists from 3-10 years old. The deadline is Monday, and all entries will be on display in the Berry Center lobby from Tuesday-Friday.

“The activities we put together are for a wide range of people,” Marsicek said.

All events are free and open to the public.

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