For over two decades, Art Lenox has supported remediation efforts at Boeing’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a nearly 3,000-acre mountain desert that once housed government rocket-engine testing and energy research in Southern California. This is just one of Boeing’s sites that now houses a pollinator, a green infrastructure habitat for species that fertilize most flowering plants and crops that sustain the ecosystem.
Lenox is also creating quite a buzz in the backyard of his Southern California home.
“As a kid, I loved monarch butterflies,” said Lenox. “Once in a while one would fly through our yard and I thought they were beautiful, graceful creatures. When I saw how remediation projects like the pollinator at Santa Susana help our overall ecosystem, I wanted to create my own.” Lenox asked his coworkers, experts in site restoration, about starting a pollinator. He then applied those Boeing best practices to his own home.
A quick trip to the garden store proved successful for Lenox’s backyard pollinator, where he learned that milkweed attracts monarch butterflies. After purchasing a few of the inexpensive plants and spreading them throughout his yard, Lenox said he and his wife noticed caterpillars settling in and setting up cocoons. “If you’re lucky, you’ll find a monarch emerge from that phase and sun itself before it gets strong enough to fly away,” he explained. “It’s a highlight when they cruise by.”
Fellow environmental engineer at Santa Susana, Paul Costa, explained why pollinators are so important, “Birds, bats, bees, butterflies and beetles are some of the species responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food.” When the pollinating animals travel from plant to plant, they sustain ecosystems and natural resources by helping plants reproduce.
Though Boeing works with community groups to restore habitat at a large scale, it’s easy for everyone to apply similar efforts at home. Small changes make a big difference to help pollinators survive and thrive.
Celebrate National Pollinator Week with your own backyard oasis
Boeing works with the Pollinator Partnership to create pollinators at a number of sites in addition to Santa Susana, including Wichita and the Pollinator Prairie outside of Kansas City. A pollinator planned for the Everett site has anticipated planting this fall, with plants popping up in 2019. Though these sites vary in geography and climate, the same practices apply to create habitat opportunities in every landscape.
National Pollinator Week, June 18 – 22, 2018, is a time to spread the word about the importance of pollinators and how to protect them. In honor of this year’s celebration, here are some tips for creating your own successful pollinator:
- Pollinators can be big or small – from window boxes to backyards, every site can be a habitat
- Seek out and utilize local plants native to your area
- Create a “target” for pollinators to find by planting in clusters
- Get to know experts at your local garden store— they are a wealth of knowledge and want to help the overall environment by providing helpful hints.
For more information, visit the Pollinator Partnership website.