Which Plants Are Pollinated By Which Insects?
Most people know that plants are pollinated in a variety of different ways. The most popular plant pollinators are certainly bees and butterflies, but many other flying and even non-flying insects pollinate plants as well. Even mammals, like bats, are common pollinators. Other mammals, like marsupials, and non-mammal vertebrates, like birds and even lizards are known to pollinate plants, although not as frequently as insects. The term “entomophily” is used in reference to insects that spread pollen.
Beetles, for example, count as the largest group of insect pollinators on earth because they are so diverse as a species. Beetles are known to pollinate magnolias and water lilies. The more popular insect pollinators, honey bees, travel from flower to flower feeding on nectar and gathering pollen. The nectar gives bees the energy necessary for long flights. Once a bee lands on a new flower, the pollen it is carrying will land on the stigma of the new flower. United States honey bees are also a major part of the agricultural industry, as they are shipped to apple and almond farms all over the US for their pollination services. This aspect of the agricultural business is called “pollination management”, and it brings more than thirty thousand bees hives to the apple orchards of New York each year and fifty thousand honey bee hives to blueberry farms in Maine each year. On the other hand, bumblebees are often used for tomato cultivation within greenhouses.
Many people, even some experts, are convinced that wasps cannot pollinate flowers because, unlike bees, a wasp’s body does not include the bodily hairs that carry pollen to other flowers. However, some experts disagree. Recent studies concerning wasp pollination have demonstrated that wasps are capable of pollinating orchids and figs. Basically, any insect, rodent, or even mammal that is attracted to the taste of flower nectar will, at least eventually, wind up pollinating a flower. Pollination is not too hard a task to pull off considering that flower stigmas often make contact with pollen just by the force wind alone.
How could beetles pollinate flowers if they are ground dwelling and cannot reach a flower’s pollen?