Pollinators in Peril Immortalized in Stamps, Crop Art

The latest buzz: The week of June 24 through June 30, 2007 has been designated National Pollinator Week, thanks to the efforts of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) and its successful lobbying with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Senate.

As part of a national campaign to publicize the rapid and marked decline of pollinating insects and mammals, the NAPPC has also convinced the U.S. Postal Service to issue a series of four pollination-themed stamps this summer, depicting a Morrison's bumble bee, a calliope hummingbird, a lesser long-nosed bat, and a Southern dogface butterfly.Pollinators—which help spread the pollen, thereby fertilizing a third of our crops—are besieged by the triple threat of habitat destruction, pesticides, and pollution. Bees are also vanishing in untold numbers in a mysterious nationwide epidemic that is short on answers.

"This is serious," says Orley "Chip" Taylor, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas. "We're losing six thousand acres of habitat a day to development, 365 days a year. One out of every three bites you eat is traceable to pollinators' activity. But if you start losing pollinators, you start losing plants."

Taylor and the NAPPC have managed to rope in Kansas-based artist Stan Herd, who creates large-scale earthworks across the globe, including rock mosaics, natural-material sculptures, and crop art. Extrapolating from the stamp image of the Southern dogface butterfly, Taylor will be creating a blown-up facsimile at Pendleton's Country Market (a family farm between Kansas City and Lawrence), viewable aerially from a nearby silo or aboard an aircraft.

"I wanted to add my artistic statement to the equation," Herd says. "I'm a fan of the flora and fauna and know that with migratory critters like butterflies there are increasing problems because of loss of habitat. My work is about my ideals. It also catches young people's attention and we'll bring school kids out to get involved in this piece."

If you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation to the crop-art project, visit the Web site of the not-for-profit Coevolution Institute, which coordinates NAPPC, and click on "Crop Art Donations."

Want to take a more active role in encouraging and protecting our pollinating pals? Consider ditching your lawn for a pollinator garden sanctuary or a Monarch butterfly waystation. :: Newswise

Tags: Bees