Pathways for Pollinators

Helping Pollinators Thrive

All Ages

About the Program

Pollinators are a vital part of our ecosystem. When bees, butterflies or other insects visit flowers in search of nectar, they spread pollen which results in seed production that is necessary for many plants to reproduce. Pollination is performed by insects (butterflies, bees, beetles, etc.), along with some birds, bats and other animals. Pollinators are responsible for fertilizing ¾ of world’s crops, resulting in seeds and the fruits. It is estimated that around 90% of plant species outside of agriculture depend on animal-mediated pollination. This means that without pollinators much of the food, drinks, fibers, spices, medicines and beautiful plant life we enjoy would disappear.

Unfortunately, the open spaces in the Bay Area are disappearing as human development is expanding. Consequently, the wildlife which depends on this land for survival is disappearing. This is especially true for butterflies and other insects which fall prey to chemical pesticides, invasion of foreign plants and competition from non-native animal species. By creating a pollinator garden, you help offset the damage.

You Can Too

Join Oakland Zoo in Making Pathways for Pollinators! Creating “pocket habitats” help pollinators survive in our cities. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds will thank you.

1.     Make a Pollinator Friendly Habitat

Plant native plants in your yard or in a small outside container. Post on Social Media #Pollinators #OaklandZoo #TakingAction.

Need help with your new plants?  Check out our resources below or email us at

2.     Say “NO” to Pesticides

Pesticides are lethal to pollinators. Use this recipe for natural spray that does no harm to bees or butterflies: 1½ tsp mild liquid soap + 4 cup water = an economical eco-spray that keeps away aphids, slugs, ants and other unwanted insects.

3.     Keep habitats healthy and trash-free

Pollinators – and all animals – thrive in a trash free environment. Participate in a Coastal Cleanup Day near you.

4.     Join a network of caring citizen scientists

Collaborate with others by downloading a citizen science app. We like Bumble Bee WatchMonarch Milkweed Mapper, or iNaturalist.

Grow Native

Growing California native plants is the best way for home gardeners to coexist with nature, instead of compete with it. More than 36% of California’s approximately 6,500 kinds of native plants are threatened, endangered, or rare. Some of these have become more commonly seen in home landscapes than in the wild.

Become a backyard conservationist and join the growing group of Pollinator Pioneers by pledging to plant for pollinators. Email for helpful gardening tips or tell us about your pocket habitat.

Sustain Life

Beyond attracting pollinators, native plants support a great diversity of wildlife - beneficial insects, lizards, squirrels, birds, and more.

Water Wise

Many California native plants are uniquely adapted to thrive in our summer-dry climate and multi-year droughts. Picking the right plant for your place is key to success.

Provide Beauty

As a biodiversity hot spot, California has a plethora of native plants to choose from. Whether you’re looking for spring blooms, fall color, or winter berries, there is a native plant for you.

Low Maintenance

Studies show that native plant gardens require less water,fertilizers, and pesticides, produce less green waste, and use less maintenance hours than traditional gardens.

Evoke a Sense of Place

Even a single California Poppy can make us feel like we’re in California, but why stop there? One third of California’s native plants grow no where else on Earth in the wild.

Pollinator Pathway Exhibit thru October 1st!

Visit the Wayne & Gladys Valley Children's Zoo to experience colorful pollinator displays and learn the importance of pollination that give life to food, flowers, and flight!

Find Out More

·       Butterfly Gardening in the Bay Area

·       Building Native Bee Hotels

·       DIY Hummingbird Feeder

·       Leave the Leaves - Why Leaf Litter is Important

·       April Showers Bring May Flowers

Questions? Please ask! We’re here to help. Email

General gardening questions for the Bay Area? Contact UC Master Gardeners of Alameda County or Visit Master Gardeners at the Zoo every 4th Saturday of the month, 10:00am – 1:00pm