Inspiring Local Action

There are many ways to be involved in invertebrate conservation. Our Conservation Comes Home series is an effort to inform, inspire, and engage individuals in invertebrate conservation in their own backyard – and beyond. We’ll be sharing the personal stories that inspired our staff to their work, as well as practical steps you can take to protect invertebrates and their habitat in your community.

Planting for Pollinators: Wild Bergamot

We’re highlighting the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Providing even a few well-chosen pollinator plants in your landscape can help support pollinator populations. Learn more at


Wild Bergamot  | Monarda fistulosa

Wild bergamot is one of several plants also known by the common name of bee balm. Wild bergamot attracts a number of specialist bees, bumble bees, predatory wasps, hummingbirds, and hawk moths.

A small black sweat bee, Dufourea monardae, is a specialist of bee balm in the Midwest and Northeast. Researchers in mid-Atlantic states have recently observed sand wasps (Bicyrtes) using beebalm extensively for nectar. These wasps are voracious predators of brown marmorated stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys), a significant pest of orchards and vegetable crops. Wild bergamot was identified as a valuable monarch nectar plant in our research, and is suggested in our Monarch Nectar Plant Guide – Midwest and guides for other regions where it grows.


Wild bergamot is a short (approx 2′ tall) wildflower that forms small colonies. Plant it with another pollinator favorite, wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolia, shown in background) and you’ll be well on your way to creating a tidy and attractive pollinator planting. Photo:

An endangered rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) was found visiting wild bergamot on a recent bumble bee survey in Minnesota. Photo Xerces Society / Sarah Foltz Jordan

Wild bergamot attracts specialist pollinators such as this tiny sweat bee, Dufourea monardae, which has only been

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Planting for Pollinators – In Your Backyard and Beyond

While a backyard butterfly garden will never be a substitute for acres of prairie, even small-scale gardens, thoughtfully planted and protected from pesticides, scattered amongst homes and businesses, can add up to meaningful habitat. While it may seem contrary to commonly held beliefs, recent research suggests that pollinators do better in urban environments, where they are protected from the types of pesticides and monocultures that degrade habitat in agricultural areas.

Conservation Comes Home

It may seem that the issues facing the animals we care about are so big they can only be addressed from the top through policy and by politicians, conservation groups, and scientists. In reality, change often happens from the ground up, as new practices—introduced locally—become nationwide trends. Community gardens, farmers markets, and gourmet coffee shops all started as local trends that spread globally, and many communities now embrace these concepts, welcoming them as amenities.


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About the Blog

Our blog features posts about conservation written by Xerces Society staff. To see older posts, visit the archive.

Recent Posts:
  • Help Researchers Track Milkweeds and Monarchs across the West

  • Rusty patched bumble bee deserves protection, not delay

  • 2017 Monarch Numbers Are Down, Lengthening a Worrying Trend

  • The Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count at 20: A record volunteer effort, but disappointing butterfly numbers

  • Western Monarch Conservation: A 40 Year History

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