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Some of my earliest memories are of piling into the family Buick and taking a road trip to Grandma’s house. We would stop at a Ho-Jo’s restaurant for ice cream (pink peppermint was my favorite) and my dad would gas up at the “filling” station. At every fill up, he would also use the squeegee to sponge off the smear of bugs on the windshield-a rite of summer. Think about that for a moment-when was the last time you had to clear your windshield of bugs? Most likely, not recently.

Where did all of the bugs go?? Sadly, there’s been a precipitous decline in the number of insects, as much as 45% by some estimates, with more than 40% of insect species threatened by extinction. This decline is being driven by loss of habitat including meadows, forests, even overgrown weedy patches and the challenges posed by herbicides and pesticides. Why is this important? Because insects are the pollinators and recyclers of our ecosystem and the base of our food webs with at least 30% of our food supply reliant on pollinators for fertilization.

If this situation concerns you, you should consider joining the Pollinator Pathway initiative, a grassroots effort organized across towns in Fairfield County, Westchester and beyond to attract and protect our vital pollinators. What is a “Pollinator Pathway”? In a perfect world, it is a contiguous corridor where pollinators can find food and habitat. Pollinators have limits to the distances they can travel and these days, due to urbanization and the spread of turf lawns and asphalt parking lots, pollinators face “food deserts”, leading to their decline. The overuse of pesticides, including herbicides, is also a major factor.

The Pathway movement aims to combine public and private land to give our pollinators a chance not just to survive but to thrive. Stamford organizations including the Stamford Museum, Bartlett Arboretum, Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Mill River, The Stamford Garden Club and others have signed on. But because most of the land in Stamford is privately owned, individual residents are key to reconnecting our fragmented landscape. By making our private properties “stepping stones” on the way to that contiguous corridor, we help create a healthy landscape where pollinators have free flow to do their work for our food and flowers.

It’s easy to “bee” part of the Stamford Pathway – just add some native plants to sustain pollinators, avoid using pesticides, and learn about the best ways to maintain a healthy landscape. Sign up today!

Bygone Bugs

Peggy Erlenkotter

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