People can cause changes in habitats that greatly affect plant and animal populations. These human-caused changes can have negative effects, or positive ones. Often in the media we hear about the negative effects of human activities, such as pollution, habitat destruction and a decline in a population of plants or animals. People of all ages have the power to make positive changes that can benefit wild plants and animals, and help conserve their habitats. The results are a healthier environment for all of us to live in!

Planting prairie gardens that attract pollinating insects and birds is an action that can cause a very positive effect on the environment. A prairie garden that attracts pollinators creates an important habitat that benefits plants and animals far beyond the garden itself. As we know from life webs, plants and animals, including people, are interrelated and need each other in many ways to live. By providing habitat for pollinators in your yard you can increase their numbers, which will benefit all gardens in the neighborhood. Like the ripples that expand from throwing a pebble in a pond, pollinator habitat gardens provides food for birds, benefic Read More
People can cause changes in habitats that greatly affect plant and animal populations. These human-caused changes can have negative effects, or positive ones. Often in the media we hear about the negative effects of human activities, such as pollution, habitat destruction and a decline in a population of plants or animals. People of all ages have the power to make positive changes that can benefit wild plants and animals, and help conserve their habitats. The results are a healthier environment for all of us to live in!

Planting prairie gardens that attract pollinating insects and birds is an action that can cause a very positive effect on the environment. A prairie garden that attracts pollinators creates an important habitat that benefits plants and animals far beyond the garden itself. As we know from life webs, plants and animals, including people, are interrelated and need each other in many ways to live. By providing habitat for pollinators in your yard you can increase their numbers, which will benefit all gardens in the neighborhood. Like the ripples that expand from throwing a pebble in a pond, pollinator habitat gardens provides food for birds, beneficial insects, animals and people far from your garden!

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.

A video about insect pollination on the prairies.

An introductory video on prairie pollination.

The Manitoba Museum – Prairie Pollination 

Few people notice insects unless they are getting bitten by one. But the activities of many of these little animals are actually very important to people. Scientists estimate that one in every three bites of food depends on a pollinator. Worldwide about 80% of all flowering plants need animal pollinators. Here in the Canadian prairies bees, flies, butterflies, moths and beetles are the most common pollinators. These insects carry hundreds of pollen grains from flower to flower every day as they search for food. Each tiny pollen grain contains the genetic information to create a new plant. This process ensures the survival of the next generation of plants. Without pollinators most of the world’s plants, including many crop plants, would go extinct.

The Manitoba Museum
Toastbot Media
c. 2012
Prairie Provinces, CANADA
© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


There are hundreds of wild plant species that grow in Canada’s prairies. Many of them require visits from hummingbirds or insects to help them produce seeds. Each plant attracts a different suite of pollinators. Plants with tube-shaped flowers attract pollinators with long beaks or tongues such as hummingbirds, moths or butterflies. Plants with shallow or bowl-shaped flowers attract pollinators with shorter tongues, like flies and bees. Plants with white flowers tend to attract pollinators that are active at night like moths, while brightly coloured flowers attract insects that are active in the day time. Some plants produce strong smells to attract pollinators while others are barely scented. This is because some pollinators use scent to guide them to flowers while others rely more on seeing.
There are hundreds of wild plant species that grow in Canada’s prairies. Many of them require visits from hummingbirds or insects to help them produce seeds. Each plant attracts a different suite of pollinators. Plants with tube-shaped flowers attract pollinators with long beaks or tongues such as hummingbirds, moths or butterflies. Plants with shallow or bowl-shaped flowers attract pollinators with shorter tongues, like flies and bees. Plants with white flowers tend to attract pollinators that are active at night like moths, while brightly coloured flowers attract insects that are active in the day time. Some plants produce strong smells to attract pollinators while others are barely scented. This is because some pollinators use scent to guide them to flowers while others rely more on seeing.

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Photo of a Black-eyed Susan plant.

Black-eyed Susan flowers in summer.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Closed Gentian plant.

Closed Gentian flowers in the fall.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Dotted Blazingstar plant.

Dotted Blazingstar flowers in the fall.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo : Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Dwarf Milkweed plant.

Dwarf Milkweed flowers in summer.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Gaillardia plant.

Gaillardia flowers in summer.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Heart-leaved Alexander plant.

Heart-leaved Alexander flowers in spring.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Hoary Puccoon plant.

Hoary Puccoon flowers in spring.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Long-leaved Bluets plant.

Long-leaved Bluets flowers in spring.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Meadow Blazingstar plant.

Meadow Blazingstar flowers in fall.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Purple Prairie-clover plant.

Purple Prairie-clover flowers in summer.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Rigid Goldenrod plant.

Rigid Goldenrod flowers in summer and fall.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Showy Goldenrod plant.

Showy Goldenrod flowers in fall

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson.

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Three-flowered Avens plant.

Three-flowered Avens flowers in spring.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Western Red Lily plant.

Western Red Lily flowers in summer.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a White Evening-primrose plant.

White Evening-primrose flowers in summer.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a White Prairie-clover plant.

White Prairie-clover flowers in summer and fall.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Wild Bergamot plant.

Wild Bergamot flowers in summer.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Wild Columbine plant.

Wild Columbine flowers in spring.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Bees can’t see reddish colours very well but they can see ultraviolet light. Thus flowers visited by bees are typically yellow, purple, pink or blue with ultraviolet nectar guides to point the way to the food source. Some bees have long tongues and will visit tube-shaped flowers while others have short tongues and visits shallower species.

Flies have shorter tongues than other pollinators and tend to favour plants with small, shallow flowers, like asters. As they are active in the daytime, they are attracted to flowers that are yellow or orange.

Hummingbirds can see reddish colours very well but have a poor sense of smell. They have very long tongues and prefer tube-shaped flowers. Since they can hover, they don’t need to land on a flower to drink its nectar.

Monarch butterflies have long tongues so they favour plants with tube-shaped flowers. They are active during the day visiting flowers that are red, orange and purple.

Most Sphinx Moths are active at night and visit white flowers as these are the easiest ones to see by moonlight. Sphinx moths typically have long tongues so they prefer tube-shaped flowers.
Bees can’t see reddish colours very well but they can see ultraviolet light. Thus flowers visited by bees are typically yellow, purple, pink or blue with ultraviolet nectar guides to point the way to the food source. Some bees have long tongues and will visit tube-shaped flowers while others have short tongues and visits shallower species.

Flies have shorter tongues than other pollinators and tend to favour plants with small, shallow flowers, like asters. As they are active in the daytime, they are attracted to flowers that are yellow or orange.

Hummingbirds can see reddish colours very well but have a poor sense of smell. They have very long tongues and prefer tube-shaped flowers. Since they can hover, they don’t need to land on a flower to drink its nectar.

Monarch butterflies have long tongues so they favour plants with tube-shaped flowers. They are active during the day visiting flowers that are red, orange and purple.

Most Sphinx Moths are active at night and visit white flowers as these are the easiest ones to see by moonlight. Sphinx moths typically have long tongues so they prefer tube-shaped flowers.

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Photo of a bumblebee on Showy Goldenrod flower heads.

Bumblebee on Showy Goldenrod.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Diana Bizecki Robson

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a flower fly on Golden Alexander flowers.

Flower fly on Golden Alexander.

The Manitba Museum
Photo: Bill Dean. Used with permission.

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a Monarch butterfly on a Dotted Blazingstar flower head.

Monarch on Dotted Blazingstar.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Bill Dean. Used with permission

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a mature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird (front view).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird male.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Christian Artuso. Used with permission.

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Photo of a preserved specimen of Wild Cherry Sphinx moth (Sphinx drupiferarum), back view.

Wild Cherry Sphinx moth (Sphinx drupiferarum), dorsal view, TMM 45451.

The Manitoba Museum
Photo: Rebecca Bilsky

TMM 45451
© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Description:

Have students work in collaborative groups to design a pollinator garden for one of the five featured pollinators in this learning object collection using the 18 featured plants. The students will need to use the Plant and Pollinator Gallery section of the Prairie Pollination website to learn more about the habitat requirements of these plants and their pollinators. They can also use other resources to help prepare their garden design, such as books, wildflower field guides and wildflower seed catalogues. The Resources section of the Prairie Pollination website has some good books and websites listed.

Method:

1. Before your students begin designing their pollinator gardens, establish their prior knowledge of prairie habitats and the plants and animals that live there by asking the following questions:

a. What are some plants and animals that live in a prairie?
b. How are they interrelated or how do they interact?
c. What do plants and animals need from their habitats to live?
d. What are some human-caused changes to habitats that have negative effects on plants and animal populations?
e. What are Read More
Description:

Have students work in collaborative groups to design a pollinator garden for one of the five featured pollinators in this learning object collection using the 18 featured plants. The students will need to use the Plant and Pollinator Gallery section of the Prairie Pollination website to learn more about the habitat requirements of these plants and their pollinators. They can also use other resources to help prepare their garden design, such as books, wildflower field guides and wildflower seed catalogues. The Resources section of the Prairie Pollination website has some good books and websites listed.

Method:

1. Before your students begin designing their pollinator gardens, establish their prior knowledge of prairie habitats and the plants and animals that live there by asking the following questions:

a. What are some plants and animals that live in a prairie?
b. How are they interrelated or how do they interact?
c. What do plants and animals need from their habitats to live?
d. What are some human-caused changes to habitats that have negative effects on plants and animal populations?
e. What are some human-caused changes to habitats that have positive effects on plants and animal populations?
f. What can we do to help conserve plants, animals and their habitats?

2. Have the students watch the Prairie Pollination video and view the digital images of the 18 featured plants and five featured pollinators in this learning object collection. Review the interrelationships between these organisms, describing which kinds of pollinators the plant is trying to attract and which kinds of plants the pollinators are attracted to.

3. Download and print a copy of the design process graphic. Review the stages in the process with your students.

4. Each group will design a garden to attract one of the featured pollinators. Using the Prairie Pollination website and other resources, the students should make a list of the habitat features and plants that they think will attract their selected pollinators. They should also write down any other pertinent information about the plant, such as flowering season, size, whether it likes wet or dry areas, what its soil preferences are, and whether it prefers lots of sun, or is happy in the shade.

5. Have the students use pencil crayons, markers or crayons to plot out their garden plans on a large sheet of paper.

6. Have groups present their designs and explain why they’ve chosen the plants that they did and which pollinators they expect to attract.

Optional Extension to Lesson Plan:

Funding is available for schools to create wildflower gardens. As a class, select one garden design from all of the designs presented. Create a garden plot in your school yard and have students plant the species from the selected design. Keep track of the plot design and the type of pollinators they are intended to attract. Future students can observe the garden to see if the design had the desired outcome. They can create their own garden designs and add additional plots as years go on.

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.

There are seven stages to the design process that the students should use to prepare their pollinator garden design.

1. State the Problem: How to design a garden that will attract a specific kind of pollinator.

2. Obtaining Facts and Information: This is the criteria and constraints of your project. Decide on the size of the garden, its location and identify potential constraints such as light and moisture levels.

3. Brainstorm: What are some ways that you could attract pollinators to your garden?

4. Generate Ideas and Explore Possibilities: Use the Prairie Pollination website and other resources to identify the kinds of habitat (e.g. nesting habitat, water) and plant features (e.g. colour, scent etc.) that will attract your pollinator. Identify plant species that possess attractive features.

5. Make a Plan: Which plant species will you decide to grow? How will you arrange the plants in your garden? Are there any other habitat features your pollinator needs that you could add to your garden?

6. Build a Model or Prototype: Sketch out your garden design on a sheet of paper.

7. Refine Your Design: Read More
There are seven stages to the design process that the students should use to prepare their pollinator garden design.

1. State the Problem: How to design a garden that will attract a specific kind of pollinator.

2. Obtaining Facts and Information: This is the criteria and constraints of your project. Decide on the size of the garden, its location and identify potential constraints such as light and moisture levels.

3. Brainstorm: What are some ways that you could attract pollinators to your garden?

4. Generate Ideas and Explore Possibilities: Use the Prairie Pollination website and other resources to identify the kinds of habitat (e.g. nesting habitat, water) and plant features (e.g. colour, scent etc.) that will attract your pollinator. Identify plant species that possess attractive features.

5. Make a Plan: Which plant species will you decide to grow? How will you arrange the plants in your garden? Are there any other habitat features your pollinator needs that you could add to your garden?

6. Build a Model or Prototype: Sketch out your garden design on a sheet of paper.

7. Refine Your Design: Will some plants grow tall and block the sun for others? Will some grow big and take the space others need to grow? Make sure you allow enough space between your plants. Adequate space to live is a part of a healthy habitat. Pollinators need food available to them throughout their life cycle. It’s a good idea to include flowers that bloom at different times in the year to keep your pollinators fed and close by.

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.

A graphic illustrating the stages in the design process.

Steps of the design process.

The Manitoba Museum
Angela Fey

© 2013, The Manitoba Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
-study the plants and animals that make up a prairie habitat and plant-pollinator food web;
-identify which plants attract certain pollinators; and
-use the design process to investigate the things they need to know to plant a pollinator garden.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans