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Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Contact information
For information on pollinator conservation, contact:
Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist
(920) 662-5161

Saving Wisconsin's Native Pollinators

Many pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths are in decline and their losses threaten Wisconsin wildflowers, ecosystems, agricultural crops, and natural areas which depend upon them. Pollinators are animals that help plants reproduce by transferring pollen. When they do this, they help plants produce fruits and seeds. Many native plants, as well as many food crops, rely on pollinators.

The main threats facing pollinators in general are habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. As native vegetation is replaced by roadways, manicured lawns, crops and non-native gardens, pollinators lose food and nesting sites necessary for their survival. Migratory pollinators, such as monarchs, face special challenges. As the distance between the suitable habitat patches along their migration route increases, more individuals may die during their journey.

You can help!

  • Take simple steps to help pollinators [PDF]
  • Learn more about Wisconsin’s pollinators.
  • Create homes and habitat for pollinators in your yard.
  • Report your observations and support citizen science.
  • Get involved in the many local, regional, national, and global efforts underway.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Wisconsin's pollinators?

In Wisconsin, most pollinators are insects like bees, butterflies and moths. Wisconsin’s pollinators also include hummingbirds and some beetles and flies. The species of bats found in Wisconsin are not pollinators; however, they are important because they eat insects.
Wisconsin is home to many pollinators that are rare and in decline, including several state and federally protected species and other species of concern:

Where can I learn about more about Wisconsin’s pollinators?

Explore the Wisconsin DNR’s rare butterflies and moths and bees species pages which contain information on where they are found in the state, their level of legal protection and photos. Life history and management considerations are available for many species, and new information is continually being added.

For more information about our pollinators, here are a few additional resources.

How can I create homes and habitat for pollinators?

Plant natives - There are many DNR and non-DNR online resources with recommendations on how to create homes and habitat:

Where to Get Native Plants and Seeds

Planting Guides

General Habitat Resources

Give water and shelter - Pollinators need water to drink and safe places to rest, avoid bad weather, and spend the winter. You can provide brush and leaf piles, create bee nest boxes, leave patches of bare earth, and provide water such as a bird bath.

What opportunities are there to volunteer with the DNR or get involved with citizen science related to pollinators?

For many of our pollinators, there is a lack of data on population status and trends. Please help fill that knowledge gap and learn more about citizen science with the Wisconsin Citizen-Based Monitoring Network [exit DNR] or become involved in a citizen science project:

Become a Wisconsin State Natural Areas volunteer

Become a volunteer for the Wisconsin rare plant monitoring program [exit DNR]

How can I identify my photo of an insect?

Submit your photo and observation record to iNaturalist for a crowd-sourced identification.

Send an insect collected in Wisconsin or email a photo to the UW Insect Diagnostic Lab [exit DNR].

Where should I report an observation of an insect?

For many of our pollinators, there is a lack of data on population status or trends. Please help fill that knowledge gap and report your observations:

What are other Wisconsin pollinator projects that I can join?
  • Support and implement conservation strategies in the Wisconsin Pollinator Plan (DATCP) [exit DNR]
  • Become a volunteer for the Wisconsin rare plant monitoring program [exit DNR]
  • Sign-up for a field trip with Wisconsin's Natural Resources Foundation [exit DNR]
  • Attend a Wisconsin citizen-based monitoring event [exit DNR]
  • Become a Wisconsin Master Naturalist [exit DNR] or Master Gardener [exit DNR]
  • Register your pollinator garden on the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge [exit DNR]
  • Participate in a North American [exit DNR] or Southern Wisconsin [exit DNR] Butterfly Association butterfly count or field trip
  • Join a Monarch Joint Venture [exit DNR] monitoring, education, research, or conservation project.
  • Become a Wisconsin State Natural Areas volunteer
  • Contact information
    For information on pollinator conservation, contact:
    Jay Watson
    Conservation Biologist
    (920) 662-5161
    Last revised: Thursday November 09 2017