Pollinator Habitat Program

Monarch butterflyVDOT's Pollinator Habitat Program helps support natural areas along state-maintained roads and properties through the research, planning, implementation, and evaluation of conservation measures and related best practices. Natural areas along roadsides provide habitats to a variety of pollinator species. The program began in 2015 when VDOT planted four pollinator waystation plots. These pollinator waystations, filled with pollinator-friendly plants, were highly effective in attracting pollinators. In the following year VDOT has created 20 pollinator habitat sites at VDOT facilities throughout the state.

VDOT implements conservation practices on its lands across the state as part of right of way (ROW) maintenance projects and new construction. Some of these practices include:

  • Seeding and planting to restore or create habitat
  • Brush removal to promote suitable habitat
  • Suitable habitat set-asides or idle lands for one or more growing seasons
  • Conservation mowing to enhance floral resources during migration and breeding
  • Targeted herbicide treatment of undesirable vegetation using herbicide best management practices

About Pollinators

Pollinators contribute to the U.S. economy by keeping fruits, nuts and vegetables fertilized through a process of moving pollen from one flower or plant to another. Only fertilized flowers can make fruit and seeds. Pollinators include:

  • Honey and native bees
  • Butterflies
  • Birds
  • Bats
  • Flies
  • Beetles

 Pollinator Habitats Benefit Transportation Priorities

In addition to providing habitat, the program:

  • Reduces mowing so that plants can mature and produce seeds 
  • Increases vegetation to stabilize slopes and reduce erosion; deep roots of plants also decrease storm water runoff
  • Decreases invasive species to reduce the costs of removing problem vegetation and using herbicides

How You Can Support Pollinators

Wildflower and Protect Pollinators license plates fund the Pollinator Habitat Program. The plates are available for purchase through the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

Pollinator Habitat plate

Learn More 

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.

The Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

USDA Forest Service: Pollinators

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.

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

Pollinator Waystation

Additional Resources

The following are some of the many organizations that provide technical expertise, on-site volunteers to help with planting, and even materials such as mulch.

Watch on Youtube:
VDOT Creates a Pollinator Habitat in VDOT's Salem District

Contact

William (Bill) Lewis, State Roadside Program Supervisor
bill.lewis@VDOT.Virginia.gov

Page last modified: Oct. 6, 2022