NEW YORK (WETM) – It’s all about the butterflies, bees, beetles, and bats. That’s the message of the New York State Department of Transportation during National Pollinator Week, with the agency planting trees and gardens along highways all across the state.

The NYS DOT announced that it was recognizing National Pollinator Week from June 19 to June 23. As part of the week, the DOT announced a temporary mascot, Morton the Monarch Butterfly, to highlight the department’s steps to “protect the valuable ecosystem provided by pollinators such as bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, moths, wasps, and flies.”

The DOT said that it has planted fruit trees, flower beds, and gardens along roads all across the state, including in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier. It has also planted more land and cut back on the amount of mowing to “avoid disruptions to pollinator life cycles, providing late-season forage, and aiding in wildflower seed dispersal”, according to the announcement.

Specifically, the DOT said it has planted two pear trees in the Friendship Rest Area and four apple trees in the Kanona Rest Area on I-86, six apple trees at the Erwin-Addison parking area on I-99, three pear trees at the Watkins Glen parking area on SR414, grape vines at the Penn Yan parking area on SR54, and wildflower seeds at a stormwater basin on SR434 in Vestal.

The DOT said there are also enlarged pollinator gardens (specifically aimed at Monarch Butterflies) in Mt. Morris at the north and southbound rest stops on the I-390.

“Pollinator week is an annual celebration of pollinator health – a time to raise awareness of pollinators and spread the word about what we can do to address the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations,” said Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez.

The agency highlighted the importance of pollinators of all types and their role in the larger ecosystem and agricultural industry of New York.