Pollinators – they’re not just bees

Tue. Jan. 10, 2017

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Pollinators – they’re not just bees

While it’s important to continue work on figuring out what’s up with the loss of bees, it’s also important to continue to provide habitat of other pollinators too!

Bee covered in pollen
Bee covered in pollen

Northwestern University’s definition of a pollinator is an animal that causes plants to make fruit or seeds. They do this by moving pollen from one part of the flower of a plant to another part. This pollen then fertilizes the plant. Only fertilized plants can make fruit and/or seeds, and without them, the plants cannot reproduce.  While bees are the most efficient, thus their importance, there are other species that act in the same way.

Ruby-throated hummingbird
Ruby-throated hummingbird

Hummingbirds and butterflies rank right up there.  In order to pollinate a plant, the pollinator must touch parts of the flower of the plant. Because of this, animals like bees, hummingbirds and some kinds of butterflies are the best pollinators, because they get their food from the flower of the plant and so brush up against parts of the flower. Other insects such as spiders and flies or wasps may use the flower for a hiding place, or may occasionally scavenge from the flower.

hummingbird sphinx moth
Hummingbird Sphinx moth enjoying Trumpet honeysuckle

After dark, moths and bats take over the night shift, visiting nocturnal blooms heavy with fragrance and large amounts of dilute nectar.

I’ll be diving into this discussion further as we move out of winter toward Spring.

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