Stewardship of the Earth – Pollinators

“The earth will not continue to offer its harvest except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”

Pope Saint John Paul II

What is stewardship?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (Stewardship Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster) stewardship is the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. This certainly includes the stewardship or care for our environment. The U.S. Catholic Bishops have weighed in on stewardship of our natural resources as well.

We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of God’s creation. Care for the earth is a duty of our faith and a sign of our concern for all people.

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the
United States
Butterfly on flower. Image by Theresa Davidson

The problem

People sometimes think our natural resources take care of themselves, but that couldn’t be further from the truth when humans have had such a huge impact on the natural world. Habitats are fragmented with roads and houses or farms and yards. We don’t allow natural processes to replenish nutrients through things like fire or floods – because we have built our homes and businesses right next to natural areas – and of course we have to protect our infrastructure. Leaves are raked in the fall instead of leaving them to fertilize the soil naturally. Mosquitos are “fogged” out with insecticides but in the process also take out beneficial insects. We plant non-native flowers or keep sterile lawns that offer no habitat for insects and other animals. We use chemicals to help grow crops and often those chemicals are not friendly to pollinators.

What is a pollinator and why should I care?

The National Park Service defines a pollinator as “…anything that helps carry pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part of the same or another flower (stigma).” (What is a pollinator? – Pollinators (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)). Some pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, birds, flies, and bats! The more I learn about bees, the more fascinated I become with them. If I wasn’t allergic to bee stings, I would be studying them more closely or would have my own hives!

If you like to eat fruits, vegetables, and seeds/nuts, you should care about pollinators. Trees, clean air and healthy ecosystems are worthy of your concern, because the stewardship of our natural resources and the pollinators are necessary for the continued survival of those ecosystems. If a healthy economy is important to you, you should care about pollinators that move pollen in agricultural systems! If you care about people, you should care about pollinators and the stewardship of creation! We need all of things (food, healthy ecosystems, and a healthy economy) to maintain our own lives.

“As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family.”

Pope Francis
Tomatoes in my garden frequently visited by various pollinators. Image by Theresa Davidson

What can you do for pollinators?

You probably already know more and care more about pollinators than you may realize. Who doesn’t love seeing butterflies flitting around our yards? Or the stunning beauty of a luna moth? I wish I had a recent picture of a luna moth. Birds move pollen and spread seeds too! Feed the birds suet and seeds, but make sure there are native sources too such as wild berries or the seeds from wildflowers. There are bats that are pollinators too. In the US and Mexico there are bats that are responsible for pollinating the agave plant – if you like tequila, you should care about those bat species. They are federally listed as endangered.

I challenge you to look up bees. There are so many different species of bees. Some insects I thought were flies are actually bees! Plant native wildflower gardens for the bees and other insect pollinators to enjoy – while you enjoy their beauty! There are many online sources and native wildflower nurseries around the country. Let the dandelions grow in your lawn! Dandelions feed so many pollinators throughout their life cycle and almost every part of the plant is edible for humans.

Yellow throated warbler. Image by Theresa Davidson

God gave us such an awesome responsibility to steward the earth and all of His creation. We can make a difference, if we care and if we take our stewardship responsibility seriously. What are your favorite pollinators?

Peace.

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