Common buckeye moth (Junonia coenia) c. Alliance Senior Forest Ecologist, Howard Goldstein

Flutter into Pollinator Month in Prospect Park!

June 11, 2024

June is Pollinator Month! Prospect Park’s 585 acres are a critical habitat for bees, butterflies and pollinators of all kinds. These fluttering and buzzing park residents play an essential role in keeping Brooklyn’s Backyard healthy and vibrant. Learn more about our pollinators with the Alliance’s Senior Forest Ecologist Howard Goldstein. 

Alliance Senior Forest Ecologist Howard Goldstein

Pollinators are insects and birds that transport pollen from one flower to another, which helps plants reproduce. “Without pollinators, we would lose a majority of the world’s plant species,” says Goldstein. Luckily, Prospect Park is teeming with all kinds of pollinators: bees, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies, moths and more. Check out some of the many pollinator hotspots in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

Left, A Syrphid Fly (Syrphidae) on Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Right, Common Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) in Prospect Park.


Bartel Woods

The Bartel Woods, which stretches from the Bartel-Pritchard Square entrance to the Bandshell, was restored by the Alliance from a mostly barren landscape to a healthy forest with a range of native trees and shrubs, and a wildflower meadow. This combination of forest layers creates a rich habitat for pollinators that is teeming with blooms. 

It is through a labor of love and keen attention to detail that the Alliance keeps the park’s natural areas lush. The Alliance’s dedicated team of gardeners, arborists and ecologists seed and plant the park strategically to have a diversity of blooms in all seasons. “We want the park blooming from March through early December to make sure that our pollinators have access to the nectar and pollen they need to survive,” said Goldstein. 

In the early spring, flowering trees are among the most important food sources for pollinators. One species, the American Basswood (Tilia americana), which blooms in June, is even known as “the bee tree.” Later in the season, keep an eye out for herbaceous flowers like smooth blue asters (Symphyotrichum laeve) and goldenrods (Solidago), which tend to flower from late August through early October. Both are members of the Asteraceae, one of the single most important plant families for pollinators in the park.

Left, Native violets (Viola novae-angliae) in the Butterfly Meadow, Right, Wasp (Vespidae) on Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) c. Ellie Watts, Prospect Park Alliance, Alliance Senior Forest Ecologist, Howard Goldstein

Butterfly Meadow

Another flourishing pollinator destination created by the Alliance is the Butterfly Meadow on Lookout Hill, the park’s highest point. Discover showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa), early blooming goldenrod (Solidago juncea), Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), smooth blue aster (Symphyotrichum laeve), native sunflowers (Helianthus divaricatus), purple joe-pye (Eutrochium purpureum) and more. Each attracts a range of pollinating insects. Beardtongue penstemon (Penstemon digitalis) is important for newly hatched bumblebees (Bombus) and frigid leafcutter bees (Megachile frigida). Milkweed (Asclepias) is the only plant that monarch butterfly caterpillars (Danaus plexippus) will eat, making it an essential destination. 

Native violets (Viola novae-angliae) are visited by early flying pollinators and host the eggs of several species of butterflies. The flowers found on giant yellow hyssop plants (Agastache nepetoides) are beloved by bees of all species, as are the native yellow sunflowers (Helianthus species) that flower in June and July, and Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) in September. Each of these plants ensures a full seasonal menu for pollinators of all shapes and sizes, even those that are active late in the year.

Another pollinator perk of the Butterfly Meadow is that it’s an important stop for birds. Insects are one of the most crucial food sources for nearly all songbirds found in Brooklyn’s Backyard. It can take somewhere between a whopping 350-570 caterpillars per day to feed even a pair of tiny chickadee chicks (Poecile) as they grow into fledglings. This makes all of our park’s pollinator destinations incredible spots for sighting birds as they fuel up, especially during spring and fall migration when warblers are abundant and a spectacular sight.

A monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and chrysalis.

Picnic House North Woods

The Picnic House North Woods, found on the western edge of the Long Meadow, just north of the Picnic House, is home to plants popular among pollinators like the shrub common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) and wildflower, Eutrochium purpureum, Joe Pye Weed. Common ninebark is particularly attractive to bees, especially to those of the genus Andrena, but also attracts butterflies and wasps.

Prospect Park Alliance’s Landscape Management team works year-round across the park to sustain the natural areas of Brooklyn’s Backyard, and to help create environments where pollinators—and in turn our larger park ecosystem—can thrive. By planting pollinator-friendly and climate-resistant species, applying innovative restoration techniques across the park, and much more, the team ensures that our 585 acres remain resilient and thriving. From radiant yellow goldenrods, cool blue asters and rich, royal violets to cunning bumblebees, magnificent butterflies and more, these beautiful blooms and pivotal pollinators thrive throughout Prospect Park. Learn more about the Alliance’s work sustaining our environment.