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Saving Wisconsin's Native Pollinators

A black and gold bumble bee gathers pollen from a flower.
A black and gold bumble bee gathers pollen from a flower.

Many pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths are in decline, and their losses threaten Wisconsin wildflowers, ecosystems, crops and natural areas which depend upon them. Pollinators transfer pollen, which then helps 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 the food and nesting sites necessary for survival. Migratory pollinators, such as monarchs, face unique challenges. As the distance between the suitable habitat patches and their migration route increases, more individuals may die during their journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I learn more about Wisconsin's pollinators?

Explore the Wisconsin DNR's rare butterfly, moth and bee 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.

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.
Wisconsin is home to many pollinators that are rare and in decline, including several state and federally-protected species and other species of concern:

How can I create homes and habitats for pollinators?

There are many DNR and non-DNR online resources with recommendations on how to create homes and habitats. The best choice is to plant native plants.

Where to Get Native Plants and Seeds

Planting Guides

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 funding is available for creating pollinator habitats?

If you own land in Wisconsin's Driftless Area, the DNR's Landowner Incentive Program can provide technical assistance to landowners to create and restore habitats for pollinators. The DNR also administers many other grant and loan programs.

What opportunities exist 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?
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?

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