Pesky and persistent. Annoying and unflappable. Utter nuisances, especially around a picnic.

Widely considered real pains in the … (depending where they sting), bees, mosquitos and an assortment of their other friends sure do get a bad rap.

Truth be told, however, “Our lives depend on them,” says Lonnie Morris, an environmental activist and coordinator of the DuPage Monarch Project.

Indeed, the role pollinators play in their own lives directly impacts how we live – and what we enjoy in ours.

“About 75% of the planet’s 250,000 species of flowering plants could not produce seeds or fruits without animal pollinators,” Morris says. “In fact, researchers estimate that one in every three bites of food we eat exists because of our native pollinators.”

But pollinators – like the bees and ‘skeeters, along with bats, wasps, flying foxes and about 1,500 other species – face threats from habitat loss, invasive species and insecticides. That’s why the Fox Valley Park District is happy to participate with the DuPage Forest Preserve District and other members of the DuPage Monarch Project in the DMP’s “Communities Protecting Pollinators BioBlitz 2021,” being held this week (June 21-27) to raise awareness about these important creatures.

The BioBlitz, which focuses on pollinators found in DuPage County, invites community interaction and participation. Residents are encouraged to take pictures of local pollinators and upload them to a free app, where the data creates a foundation for conservation policies and evaluating their effect on monarch butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

To participate:

1. Download the iNaturalist app to your smartphone and create an account. Make sure to let the app use your location so it can record where you take each photo.

2. Join the DuPage Monarch Project: Communities Protecting Pollinators BioBlitz 2021 on the iNaturalist app.

3. When you’re ready, select “Observe” under the camera icon at the bottom, and snap your photos.

4. Select “Next” and then “Share.” Once your photo uploads, you’re done, or you can share more!

“Community science, like this BioBlitz, is an important part of protecting our pollinators,” Morris says. “The more we know about them, the better equipped we are to implement effective conservation policies. The BioBlitz is easy, fun and a great chance to see bees, beetles, hoverflies and butterflies up close and appreciate the role they’re playing.”

This local initiative is part of “Pollinator Week,” which is celebrated internationally, and supported by the National Recreation and Park Association. The Fox Valley Park District owns and manages nearly 100 acres of thriving pollinator habitat, including healthy homes at Waubonsie Lake and Spring Lake parks, both in DuPage County.

“I’m proud of the District’s ongoing commitment to the expansion and management of pollinator habitat,” says Jeff Palmquist, the FVPD’s director of planning, research and grants. “These native habitats are not only beautiful to the eye and add another dimension to many of our parks, but they also ensure that our valuable pollinators can thrive.”