Why should we care about pollinators in Northbrook?
A pollinator is anything that helps flowering plants reproduce, such as bees, wasps, moths, butterflies, birds, flies, and small mammals. They are responsible for the pollination and reproduction of over 75% of all flowering plants (such as fruits and vegetables). Scientists warn that pollinators, especially insect pollinators, are declining rapidly in numbers over the past few decades. Habitat loss is considered a main contributing factor to this decline, so every backyard counts to help combat this issue that has cascading impacts on our food supply and ecosystem.
Free Pollinator Garden Sign
Any pocket of greenspace can serve as vital habitat for wildlife. Free yard signs are available at Village Hall (1225 Cedar Lane) on the second floor in the Department of Development and Planning Services. Sign recipients must register their garden by contacting the Village Sustainability Coordinator at 847 664 4134 or by email. Sign recipients must to commit to the following for their pollinator garden:
1) Contain native plants - at least three different wildflower species, such as Coneflower, Milkweed, or Black-eyed Susans. Refer to this webpage for Village native plant recommendations.
2) Leave fallen tree leaves and dried-up vegetation for nesting insects.
3) Exclude exposure to inorganic pesticides such as weed-killers or mosquito barrier treatments.
Village Sustainable Landscaping Incentives
Rusty Patch Bumblebee
In Northbrook, we share our environment with the critically endangered rusty patched bumblebee: the chemicals we use in our backyards impact the fate of this species. Beyond global climate change, scientists have cited reasons for its decline such as environmental degradation and contamination from petro-chemicals, pesticides, and inorganic fertilizers. Bumblebees can absorb toxins directly through their exoskeleton upon contact with contaminated nectar and pollen. Rusty patched bumble bees nest in the ground and may be susceptible to compounds that persist in agricultural soils, lawns and turf.
The endangered bee is present in Northbrook's natural areas and has the ability to forage for nectar within a 3-mile range of its nesting site.
Somme Woods as habitat refuge
A recent study from UIUC (http://ow.ly/wWy330rIkpK) on the rusty patched bumblebee finds that forest plants blooming in spring appear to be declining, and the timing of those flowers corresponds with when queen bees are out and foraging for food. Unfortunately, many forest preserves within Cook County are suffering with invasions from introduced plant species. These non-native spring blooms outcompete our native ones for space, light, and nutrients on the forest floor.
Thankfully, Northbrook has dedicated volunteers working year-round on invasive species control and native plant revitalization. As a result, spring beauties like Eastern Shooting Star and Wild Geranium grace the forest floor for queen bees to enjoy. Northbrook would like to thank our community members involved in local conservation such as the Somme Woods Community restoration project. If you would like to get involved in this effort, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mayors Monarch Pledge
Village President Sandy Frum first made a Village Monarch proclamation in 2015 and signed the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge in 2017. The Village continues to sustain pollinator conservation and education: see 2021 program updates at Northbrook's Monarch Pledge Community Page.
Field Museum's Monarch Community Science
To encourage participation in local conservation studies, the Village monitors a survey patch of milkweed for the Field Museum's Community Science program. This effort contributes data to help answer fundamental urban ecology questions like, “what are the characteristics of a successful urban monarch garden?” See updates on the Field Museum's Community Science program here.
Pesticides and pollinators
Pesticides are herbicides and insecticides used to control invasive plants and nuisance/disease-carrying insects. Pesticides are appropriate in some cases when used carefully but should not be misused or overused. Research has shown that pesticides contribute to the decline of important pollinators, most notably bees. Before resorting to pesticide applications in your outdoor space, please review this checklist provided by Northbrook's Environmental Quality Commission. If considering a mosquito control service for your home, please consult this fact sheet put together in collaboration with Midwest Grows Green and North Shore Mosquito Abatement District (NSMAD).
Northbrook is serviced by two public health agencies for bug-carrying diseases, both of which utilizing Integrated Pest Management to address the health concerns of diseases in our area as well as the threat of pesticides causing resistance and impacts on pollinators. On March 18, 2021 the Director of NSMAD presented the following information to the Environmental Quality Commission.