Pollinator Habitat Program
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) creates naturalized areas with native plantings along state-maintained roadways and properties to provide habitats for threatened and dwindling pollinator species, such as bees and butterflies, through its Pollinator Habitat Program.
Pollinators — including honey bees, native bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and even flies and beetles — contribute substantially to the U.S. economy and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts and vegetables in our diets by moving pollen from one flower or plant to another for fertilization. Only fertilized flowers can make fruit or seeds.
The program also aims to decrease erosion and storm water runoff while providing sediment control, using fewer pesticides and increasing aesthetics. More economic savings accrue by reducing mowing and other vegetation costs, such as invasive species control and herbicide applications.
Over the past few decades, there has been a significant decrease in pollinators. “Pollinator Waystations” filled with pollinator-friendly plants provide those species the environment needed for survival. In 2014, the White House released a Presidential Memorandum titled “Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.”
VDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program started with four 900-foot Pollinator Waystation plots in 2014 in Northern Virginia. Since then, pollinator plantings have been added at 16 additional VDOT properties. The program will continue to grow throughout the state, focusing on naturalized gardens and meadows at rest areas, park and rides and additional VDOT facilities.
Pollinator Habitats Aid Transportation Priorities
In addition to providing habitat, the Pollinator Habitat Program has additional goals:
- Reduced mowing can allow plants to mature and produce seeds. VDOT has implemented a revised mowing standard in its Best Practices Manual which recommends no mowing between March 31 and November 1 each year.
- Native vegetation stabilizes slopes and reduces erosion. Their deep roots also decrease storm water runoff.
- Native plants defend against invasive species, reducing the costs of removing problem vegetation and the use of herbicides.
Contact Pollinator Habitat Coordinator Stacey Moulds for more information or with questions: Stacey.Moulds@VDOT.Virginia.gov or (804) 592-8520.
Support the Program
Learn more about Pollinators and Native Plants!
USDA Forest Service: Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden Using Native Plants - An illustrated guide explaining pollinators; their importance and how you can attract them to your own garden using native plants.
Pollinator-Friendly Plants for the Northeast United States - Detailed plant list with individual pages per plant, including photos.
Status of the Monarch Butterfly - Latest information about Monarch butterflies from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Crown Bees – Materials, resource information about native cavity nesting bees.
Bumble Bees of Virginia – A pamphlet in pdf form, produced by the Virginia Working Landscapes, a program of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
The Xerces Society - Information about invertebrate conservation, including many important pollinators.
Plant Virginia Natives - A hub for information about Virginia's native plants provided by the Virginia Native Plant Marketing Partnership. Includes downloadable native plant guides from seven regions of Virginia.
Heather Holm – Heather Holm has written two important books on native pollinators. Her website includes links to educational posters and articles she has written for Houzz.
Bringing Nature Home - Website of University of Delaware professor and author Doug Tallamy.
Virginia's Natural Heritage Program – A division of the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation, the Natural Heritage Program’s work focuses on science-based conservation to protect Virginia's native plant and animal life and the ecosystems upon which it depends
Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora - The Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora is the online successor to the Atlas of the Virginia Flora. Although it is still a work in progress in many respects, the Digital Atlas contains the most comprehensive information available on the geographic distribution of vascular plants in the Commonwealth.
Virginia Native Plant Society - dedicated to the protection and preservation of the native plants of Virginia and their habitats, this website contains many resources on native plants and links to local chapters throughout Virginia
VDOT’s partners have provided technical expertise, on-site volunteers to help with planting, materials such as mulch and many other services.
- Blue Ridge Prism
- Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation
- Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
- Monarch Watch
- Plant Virginia Natives
- Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs
- Virginia Native Plant Society
- Virginia Tech Department of Entomology
- Virginia Tech School of Plant and Environmental Sciences