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Pollinator Conservation Resources: Southwest Region

In the foreground of this sunny, outdoor scene is a plant with long, pointed green leaves and pale purple, trumpet-shaped flowers. In the background are bright yellow blooms and blue skies.
(Photo: Xerces Society / Emily May)

Welcome to our Pollinator Conservation Resources for the Southwest Region! Here you'll find region-specific collections of publications, native seed vendors, and other resources to aid in planning, establishing, restoring, and maintaining pollinator habitat—as well as materials to help you learn about the species of invertebrates and native plants you might encounter. For more resources, see our Publications Library or learn about our Pollinator Conservation Program.

Click to return to the Pollinator Conservation Resource Center home page.

 

Habitat Assessment

Habitat Assessment Guide for Pollinators: Yards, Gardens, and Parks

Landscaping for pollinators is one of the easiest ways for urban, suburban, and rural residents to directly benefit local wildlife. Schoolyards, community gardens, back yards, corporate campuses, rain gardens, and neighborhood parks all have the potential to meet the most basic needs of pollinators, including protection from pesticides, and resources for foraging, nesting, and overwintering. 

 

Habitat Assessment Guide for Pollinators: Farms and Agricultural Landscapes

This pollinator habitat assessment guide is designed for a single site on a farm or agricultural landscape.

 

Habitat Assessment Guide For Pollinators: Natural Areas and Rangelands

This pollinator habitat assessment guide is designed for natural areas and rangelands.

 

Habitat Assessment Guide for Beneficial Insects: Farms and Agricultural Landscapes

This beneficial insect habitat assessment guide is designed for a single site on a farm or agricultural landscape.

 

Estimated Costs to Establish Wildflower Plantings Using Chemical Fallow

This Xerces Society fact sheet provides a quick overview of the estimated costs of establishing wildflower habitat for pollinators on conventional farms.

 

Habitat Installation

Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment

Site preparation is one of the most important and often inadequately addressed components for successfully installing pollinator habitat. These guidelines provide step-by-step instructions, helpful suggestions, and regional timelines & checklists for preparing both small and large sites.

 

Establishing Pollinator Meadows from Seed
Establishing wildflower habitat for pollinators is the single most effective course of action to conserve pollinators that can be taken by anyone at any scale. These guidelines provide step-by-step instructions for establishing pollinator meadows from seed in areas that range in size from a small backyard garden up to areas around an acre.

 

Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

This 16-page bulletin will help you use cover crops to encourage populations of pollinators and beneficial insects on your farm while you address your other resource concerns. It begins with a broad overview of pollinator and beneficial insect ecology, then describes cover crop selection and management, how to make cover crops work on your farm, and helpful and proven crop rotations. It will also touch on the limitations of cover crops and pesticide harm reduction, among other topics.

 

Estimated Costs to Establish Pollinator Hedgerows

This fact sheet outlines the estimated costs of establishing hedgerow habitat for pollinators. Pollinator hedgerows are diverse linear plantings of native flowering trees, shrubs, perennial wildflowers and grasses designed to provide foraging and nesting habitat for pollinators. These estimates represent average costs of establishing hedgerows from transplants, and are derived from a series of pollinator hedgerow habitat projects throughout the United States. Actual costs vary from project to project and region to region.

 

Plant Lists

Buying Bee-Safe Plants

Our guide, Buying Bee-Safe Plants, covers four ways to help you find plants that are safe for bees, and includes tips and questions to use at the nursery.  Check out our Bee-Safe Nursery Plants webpage for more information.

Related document: Offering Bee-Safe Plants: A Guide for Nurseries

 

Milkweed Seed Finder

As part of our Project Milkweed, we have created this comprehensive national directory of milkweed seed vendors to help you find sources of seed. To learn more about monarch butterflies and how you can participate in conservation efforts, please visit the Xerces Society’s Monarch Butterfly Conservation page or the Monarch Joint Venture webpage.

 

Pollinator Plants: Albuquerque and Santa Fe Region

This Xerces Society plant list is recommended for the EPA Level IV ecoregions of the Albuquerque Basin and the North Central NM Valleys and Mesas and is best suited for elevations below 8000' and areas with dry soils. This guide features regional native plants that are highly attractive to pollinators and are well-suited for small-scale plantings in gardens, on business and school campuses, in urban greenscapes, and in farm field borders.

 

Monarch Nectar Plants: Southwest

This Xerces Society fact sheet features recommended native plants that are highly attractive to pollinators such as native bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds, and are well-suited for small-scale plantings in gardens, on business and school campuses, in urban greenspaces, and in farm field borders.

 

Roadside Habitat for Monarchs:  Milkweeds of Arizona & New Mexico

A diversity of milkweed species is found on roadsides, and play an important role in supporting the life cycle of monarchs. This guide can help you recognize the most common native species of milkweed on roadsides in your region.

 

Native Plant Profiles and Lists

The Xerces Society has collaborated with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to create plant lists that are attractive to native bees, bumble bees, honey bees, and other beneficial insects, as well as plant lists with value as nesting materials for native bees. These lists can be narrowed down with additional criteria such as state, soil moisture, bloom time, and sunlight requirements.

 

Native Milkweeds: Pollinator Plants of the Desert Southwest

A series of regional guides to the native milkweeds of North America, developed in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

 

Pollinator Plants for Texas Conservation Practices
An in-depth technical guide to trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plant species appropriate for habitat enhancement efforts in Texas.

 

Plants for Enhancing Pollinator Habitat in Arizona
This NRCS Technical Note developed in collaboration with the Xerces Society features an extensive list of native forbs, shrubs, and trees, plus some non-natives, that provide foraging resources for pollinators.

 

Plants for Pollinator Habitat
This poster is a publication of the East Texas Plant Materials Center, and profiles several plant species appropriate to the region.

 

Pollinator Plant Recommendations for New Mexico
This NRCS Technical Note developed in collaboration with the Xerces Society features an extensive list of native forbs, shrubs, and trees, plus some non-natives, that provide foraging resources for pollinators.

Habitat Management

Maintaining Diverse Stands of Wildflowers

High quality pollinator meadows sometimes experience a decline in wildflower diversity or abundance as they age. This guide provides recommendations on how to bring declining meadows back into a high quality condition.

 

Collecting and Using Your Own Wildflower Seed

In this document we outline the basic steps of collecting native plant seed using readily available, non-specialized equipment, as well as tips for cleaning, storing, and sharing seed to expand pollinator habitat on farms and in our communities.

 

Nesting & Overwintering Habitat For Pollinators & Other Beneficial Insects

This guide focuses on a variety of natural nesting habitat features that can be readily incorporated into most landscapes. Compared to artificial nesting options such as bee blocks and bee hotels, natural nesting habitat features often better mimic the natural nest site density of insects, and also break down naturally with time, limiting disease and parasite issues.

 

Best Management Practices for Pollinators on Western Rangelands

The Xerces Society developed these guidelines to help land managers incorporate pollinator-friendly practices into rangeland management. This publication is focused on federally managed rangelands that span the following western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

 

Roadside Best Management Practices that Benefit Pollinators

These best management practices provide concrete steps that can be taken by any roadside management agency to improve roadside vegetation for pollinators. The BMPs cover management of existing habitat, including ways to modify the use of mowing and herbicides to enhance roadsides, and methods to incorporate native plants and pollinator habitat into the design of new roadsides.

 

Roadside Habitat For Monarchs: Monarch Butterflies, Weeds, and Herbicides

Roadsides provide more than just milkweed. They can also provide diverse nectar sources to feed adult monarchs and other pollinators—but ensuring that roadsides can continue to provide the best habitat requires some thought and care. This guide highlights best management practices to reduce the impacts of herbicides on monarchs.

 

Western Monarch Management Windows: Timing Management in Monarch Breeding Habitat

Based on the best available data for when and where monarchs breed in the West, we have developed regionally appropriate monarch breeding habitat management windows, when management activities are least likely to have negative effects on monarchs.

 

Farming with Soil Life:  A Handbook for Supporting Soil Invertebrates and Soil Health on Farms

This guide focuses on the diverse, often overlooked, and essential living species that we know best: the major invertebrates (macrofauna and mesofauna) found in temperate agricultural soils. There is a focus on North America in the groups of organisms and the soil health practices that are covered, but many groups are present in these soil types around the world, and the same management principles apply. Larger soil animals, such as ground beetles, woodlice, and springtails, and their many companions, have received less attention than soil microbes in recent years.

Pesticide Protection

Guidance to Protect Habitat from Pesticide Contamination: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Pollinator Habitat

This Xerces Society guidance document was designed to help growers, land managers, and others safeguard pollinator habitat from harmful pesticide contamination. It includes information on selecting habitat sites, as well as ways to maintain clean habitat by limiting and carefully managing pesticide use.

 

Smarter Pest Management: Protecting Pollinators at Home

Most of North America’s native bee species only forage over a distance of a few hundred yards, so with a little planning, your yard can provide a safe space for bees and other pollinators to thrive. All you need to give them are flowering plants throughout the growing season, undisturbed places to nest, and protection from pesticides. This Xerces Society guide will help you with the last item, managing yard pests in a pollinator-friendly way.

 

Smarter Pest Management: Pollinator Protection for Cities and Campuses

This Xerces Society fact sheet introduces to city and campus land managers the concept of integrated pest management (IPM), a system that emphasizes prevention first and seeks to eliminate the underlying causes of plant diseases, weeds, and insect problems rather than relying on routine use of pesticides.

 

Buying Bee-Safe Plants
Creating a welcoming home for local pollinators in your home garden or city park habitat is reason enough to choose plants free from harmful pesticide residues. Nurseries are more likely to make investments in pollinator-friendly production if their customers make it clear this is what they want. Our guide, Buying Bee-Safe Plants, covers four ways to help you find plants that are safe for bees, and includes tips and questions to use at the nursery.

 

Offering Bee-Safe Plants: A Guide for Nurseries

Three core elements of pollinator-friendly growing include using non-chemical methods to prevent and manage pests, monitoring of pest pressure, and limiting risk to pollinators if pesticides are used. These concepts are rooted in integrated pest management and are familiar to most growers. Offering Bee-Safe Nursery Plants: A Guide for Nurseries explains these concepts further and was created for wholesalers and retailers to explore, encourage, and implement pollinator friendly pest-management in the nursery business.

 

Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides: Fungicide Impacts on Pollinators

From large farms to small backyard gardens, many people use fungicides to control plant pathogens. While insecticides have long been recognized as a threat to bees and other beneficial insects, fungicides have generally been assumed to be relatively harmless. Though most fungicide exposures won’t kill a bee immediately, a growing body of research suggests that some fungicides can cause subtle yet significant harm. This Xerces Society fact sheet delves into how these impacts on pollinators occur, and offers mitigation measures and alternative pest management strategies.

 

How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides 

This detailed guide, produced jointly by the extension services of Oregon State University, Washington State University, and the University of Idaho, offers guidance on how to select and apply insecticides. Extensive tables list the toxicity to bees of dozens of chemicals and how long after application they remain hazardous to bees in the field.

 

Protecting Bees from Neonicotinoids in Your Garden

Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides that are used widely on farms, as well as around our homes, schools, and city landscapes. This Xerces Society brochure explains why they are a risk to bees, gives examples of neonicotinoid garden products, and gives some simple tips for protecting bees from these insecticides.

 

How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees: The Science Behind the Role These Insecticides Play in Harming Bees

In this Xerces Society report, we present an overview of research that clearly documents neonicotinoid impacts on bees. The report also covers what can be inferred from existing research, and identifies knowledge gaps that will need to be filled to allow for better-informed decisions about the future use and regulation of these chemicals.

 

Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Effects of Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Agriculturally Important Beneficial Insects

This Xerces Society report details potential negative impacts of neonicotinoid insecticides on important beneficial insects. It also makes recommendations on how we can better protect important beneficials like beetles and wasps.

 

Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

These Xerces Society guidelines provide a brief overview of how to select and apply pesticides for organic farm operations while minimizing pollinator mortality. Many of the practices outlined here for protecting pollinators also can help to protect beneficial insects such as parasitoid wasps and flies; predaceous wasps, flies, and beetles; ambush and assassin bugs; lacewings; and others. The presence of these insects can further reduce pest pressure and the need for chemical treatments.

 

Common Organic-Allowed Pesticides: A Comparative Overview

Intended as a companion document to Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects, this fact sheet is intended to be a quick reference to help you select and use organically-approved pesticides with the least impact on bees and other beneficial insects.

 

Supporting Ecologically Sound Mosquito Management: Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides

This Xerces Society fact sheet provides a brief overview of mosquito management methods that protect both people and pollinators, plus two case studies in effective mosquito management.

 

IPI Database

The IPI database contains summaries of research articles on pesticides, their effects on invertebrates, and pesticide movement in the environment. Articles have been reviewed and summarized to highlight key findings by Xerces Society staff.

 

Preventing or Mitigating Potential Negative Impacts of Pesticides on Pollinators Using Integrated Pest Management and Other Conservation Practices

Agronomy Technical Note No. 9.

Identification & Monitoring Resources

Western Bumble Bee Pocket Identification Guide
A full color print-and-fold guide to the Western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis), a formerly common species believed to be in decline. Includes images of similar looking species.

 

Bumble bees of the Western United States
This field guide was produced by the USDA Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership. The Guide covers the most commonly encountered bumble bees of the Western United States. Each bee species has information on preferred food plants, nesting biology, seasonal activity patterns, identification guidelines, and distribution maps.

 

Pocket Guide to the Native Bees of New Mexico
A handy pocket field guide to the groups of bees most common in New Mexico, with information on native bee ecology and habitat conservation.

 

Native Seed & Plant Vendors

Buying Bee-Safe Plants

Our guide, Buying Bee-Safe Plants, covers four ways to help you find plants that are safe for bees, and includes tips and questions to use at the nursery.  Check out our Bee-Safe Nursery Plants webpage for more information.

Related document: Offering Bee-Safe Plants: A Guide for Nurseries

 

Milkweed Seed Finder

As part of our Project Milkweed, we have created this comprehensive national directory of milkweed seed vendors to help you find sources of seed. To learn more about monarch butterflies and how you can participate in conservation efforts, please visit the Xerces Society’s Monarch Butterfly Conservation page or the Monarch Joint Venture webpage.

 

Borderlands Nursery and Seed, Patagonia, AZ
Borderlands Nursery and Seed is a source for native plants and ethically collected native seed from Southeastern Arizona. 

 

Desert Survivors, Tucson, AZ
Desert Survivors plant nursery sells several hundred species of plants native to the Sonoran Desert, Chihuahuan Desert, and Mohave Desert, with a primary focus on plants of southern Arizona.

 

Flagstaff Native Plant and Seed, Flagstaff, AZ
This nursery provides trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers native to Northern Arizona and the Colorado Plateau.

 

Hydra Aquatic, Albuquerque, NM
Hydra Aquatic’s plant nursery grows containers of native wetland, aquatic and riparian plants native to the Southwest.

 

Lone Mountain Native Plants, Silver City, NM
Lone Mountain Native Plants grows and sells native plants and seeds without the use of pesticides and herbicides.

 

Plants of the Southwest, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM
Plants of the Southwest carries native seed and containers of native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees.

 

Wild Seed, Tempe, AZ
Wild Seed offers seed of many native desert wildflowers, sold on an individual basis and in seed mixes. Online ordering is not available; call (602) 276-3536 to request a species list or to place orders.

Buying Bee-Safe Plants

Our guide, Buying Bee-Safe Plants, covers four ways to help you find plants that are safe for bees, and includes tips and questions to use at the nursery.  Check out our Bee-Safe Nursery Plants webpage for more information.

Related document: Offering Bee-Safe Plants: A Guide for Nurseries

 

Bee Happy Native Seed Mix for the South-Central U.S.

From Native American Seed in Junction, Texas, this mix includes a diversity of annual and perennial native wildflowers that provide quality sources of nectar and pollen for pollinators. This mix is appropriate for habitat restoration in southern Arizona and New Mexico, eastern Colorado, Kansas, southern Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, northern Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, and the Southeastern coastal plain.

 

High Plains Native Seed Mix

This mix produced by Applewood Seed Company includes high quality native wildflowers that attract and support pollinators. Two or more species of native bunch grass are also included, to provide nesting habitat for bumble bees and other beneficial insects. This mix is appropriate for habitat restoration at elevations below 6,000 feet in southeastern Wyoming, southwestern South Dakota, western Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, eastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma and northwestern Texas.

 

Southern Rocky Mountain Native Seed Mix

Produced by Applewood Seed Company, this mix features high quality native wildflowers that provide sources of pollen and/or nectar for pollinators. To provide nesting habitat for bumble bees and other beneficial insects, two or more species of bunch grass are also included in the mix. This mix is appropriate for habitat restoration in the Southern Rocky Mountains (elevations between 6,000 and 10,000 feet in Wyoming, Colorado & New Mexico).

Further Reading

Policy Analysis Paper: Policy Mainstreaming of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services with a Focus on Pollination (Berkeley Food Institute)
The Berkeley Food Institute collaborated with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to author this publication. It considers the mainstreaming of ecosystem services at both national and international levels, with a focus on pollination services. Following work undertaken through the GEF/UNEP/FAO Global Pollination Project, and through funding from the Norwegian Environment Agency, this publication addresses the interface between science and policy as a contribution to the work of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

 

Farming for Bees

Farming for Bees outlines ways to protect and enhance habitat for native crop pollinators in the farm landscape. Containing a wealth of information about common groups of native bees, their habitat requirements, and conservation strategies to increase their numbers on farms.

 

Habitat Planning for Beneficial Insects

This publication outlines the ecology of many native beneficial insect groups and highlights recommended strategies for conservation biological control—the practice of providing habitat for insects that attack crop pests. While native predator and parasitoid insects alone may not solve all of a producer’s pest problems, they can be an important part of an Integrated Pest Management system and contribute to reduced need for pesticides over time.

 

Farming with Native Beneficial Insects

This comprehensive guide describes how to recognize these insects and their habitat, and how to evaluate, design, and improve habitat for them. Close-up photography and in-depth profiles familiarize you with more than 20 beneficial insects and their kin. Step-by-step illustrated instructions detail specific solutions including native plant field borders, mass insectary plantings, hedgerows, cover crops, buffer strips, beetle banks, and brush piles.

 

Attracting Native Pollinators

Attracting Native Pollinators offers the latest understanding on creating and managing pollinator habitat. Illustrated with hundreds of color photographs and dozens of specially created illustrations, this book will help you make room for the pollinators that you love. 

 

100 Plants to Feed the Bees

100 Plants to Feed the Bees identifies the plants that honey bees and native bees – as well as butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds – find most nutritious, including flowers, trees, shrubs, herbs, and pasture plants.

 

Gardening For Butterflies

Gardening for Butterflies will introduce you to a variety of butterflies that need help and provides suggestions for native plants to attract them, habitat designs to help them thrive, and garden practices to accommodate all their stages of life. Home gardeners will learn how to design a butterfly garden, no matter the size of their space.

 

Pollinators and Climate Change

In California, climate change is expected to cause higher temperatures, more frequent and longer heat waves, and increased drought frequency and severity. Extreme weather events will also become more common. These challenges posed by climate change are extensive, but there ways you can increase climate resilience for pollinators in your yard, neighborhood park, or whole community.

     Building Climate Resilience into Pollinator Habitat Restoration in the Central Valley

     Climate-Smart Right-of-Way Habitat

     Climate-Smart Natural Habitat

     Climate-Smart Agricultural Habitat

     Climate-Smart Urban Habitat

 

Western Monarch Call to Action

This Western Monarch Call to Action, led by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, aims to provide a set of rapid-response conservation actions that, if applied immediately, can help the western monarch population bounce back from its critically low overwintering size. We recognize and support longer-term recovery efforts in place for western monarchs.

 

Western Monarchs Are in Trouble: This Is How You Can Help

In this document we offer simple steps that any individual can take to help support the western monarch population. This is intended as a companion document to the Western Monarch Call to Action, linked in the Related Resources list.