Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sketching pollinators - taking a closer look at essential insects during National Pollinator Week

For the past decade, I've taken special delight in looking at, and drawing, insects.

It all started with a three-year artist residency at the Watershed Education Network, where I developed a place-based journal/sketching component for their stream ecology field trips, drew about 30 aquatic macroinvertebrate (small water-dwelling insects) illustrations for a wetland guide book, and helped develop a new logo and merchandise line.

Spending three years thinking carefully about the ecosystem role and scientific value of these insects instilled in me a deep curiosity and appreciation for insects in general.

Since then, I've gone out of my way to sketch moths, butterflies, beetles, and just about any other insect I can capture on the page before it scuttles or flutters or buzzes away.

So, I was excited to write an article about insects for National Pollinator week - and somewhat surprised to be reminded - by my research - that insects aren't the only pollinators out there.

This week's column
In the syndicated column, we take a closer look at a host of pollinators, their ecosystem roles and conservation challenges, and what we can do to create pollinator-friendly spaces, even in our back yards.

The following illustrations accompany the column, which is available to direct subscribers (new!) and publications running Drawn to the West as a syndicated column. 


  • Although bees are the epitome of a pollinator, according to the Pollinator Partnership (P2;, " Pollination occurs when pollen is moved within flowers or carried from flower to flower by pollinating animals such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, and other animals, or by the wind."
  • While grains and meat supply the majority of our calories, protein, and fat, it is flowering plants which "provide the vast array of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, flavonoids, antioxidants, and trace elements that we need for good health."
  • Putting effort into providing pollinators with their essential requirements is more than a nice idea. As the Native Bee Conservancy puts it, "We could not survive in a world devoid of animal-pollinated plants, so caring for pollinators is not a choice but a necessity."

If you'd like to read the column, subscribe directly (new!) or let your local newspaper or magazine editor know you want to see an illustrated version of the West in their publication!


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