Gahanna hopes to raise awareness about declining pollinator populations by celebrating National Pollinators Week from Monday, June 19, through June 23.

The city's commitment to protecting pollinators formally was initiated this spring when Mayor Tom Kneeland signed a proclamation making Gahanna a "Pollinator Community."

This initiative is important because pollinators are threatened with a loss of habitat and food sources, according to Niel Jurist, Gahanna's public information manager.

A pollinator is any animal that visits plants and moves pollen.

Bees and butterflies are among the most popular pollinators, but beetles, bats, flies, hummingbirds and moths are among the others.

As a "Pollinator Community," Jurist said, Gahanna is taking steps to create pollinator-friendly habitats and ensure the survival of vital animal species, improve regional food production and stimulate the local economy.

The Gahanna Department of Parks and Recreation is renovating existing flower beds and adding perennial plant species to attract and support pollinator populations.

Some of the installations include gardens at McCorkle Park, Creekside, the Geroux Herb Garden at City Hall, Gahanna Swimming Pool and Veterans Plaza, Jurist said.

The department continues to remove invasive species such as honeysuckle, privet and grapevine, so native plants have space to grow.

Pollinators and native species are adapted to one another, making them a natural fit for pollinators to collect pollen and nectar, Jurist said.

Jurist said other forthcoming initiatives include the installation and maintenance of three active beehives at various locations throughout the city.

Gahanna also plans to landscape the newly opened roundabouts on Hamilton Road to create pollinator habitats.

Shannon Barnett, Department of Parks and Recreation horticultural coordinator, said homeowners can take practical steps to create their own pollinator habitats. They can plant native species with a variety of colors and a broad range of bloom times throughout the season so a pollinator food source always is present, Barnett said.

"Planting herbs in your yard or cultivating a small container herb garden is a great way to support a variety of pollinators," said Brooke Sackenheim, manager of the Gahanna Ohio Herb Education Center.

"Many of the culinary herbs such as thyme, basil and mint are delicious for people and at the same time nourishing to bees and butterflies," she said.

Growing such herbs as parsley, fennel and dill also can provide food for caterpillars, thus supporting butterfly and moth pollinators, she said.

When several people in a neighborhood grow different kinds of herbs and flowering plants, it allows pollinators to have a variety of nutrition and shelter options available to them throughout the season, she said.

Kneeland encourages all community groups, schools and citizens to participate in activities promoting conservation and stewardship.

To learn more about supporting pollinator environments, visit pollinator.org.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla