Pollinators are essential for continued plant growth in the wild and the most common plant pollinators, are bees and butterflies. The transfer of plant pollen to a female species of plant or the female part of the plant enables fertilization, leading to the growth of new plants.
When bees collect nectar and pollen from the flower of a plant, some pollen from the stamens, the male part of the flower, sticks to the hairs on its body and gets transferred to the next flower that it visits.
The second most productive pollinators are butterflies. Although they visit flowers often, they lack the specialized pollen-carrying structures so that pollen doesn’t stick to their bodies as much as it does to bees.
Some wasps do visit flowers. Although generally thought to be less efficient pollinators than bees. This is because wasps lack the body hairs that bees have to carry pollen and so are not as well equipped for carting pollen from flower to flower.
Most moths are nocturnal. These night-flying pollinators commonly pollinate white, fragrant flowers, such as jasmine.
Many flies like to feed on the nectar in flowers, whilst doing so they provide pollination services to the plants they visit. Nearly half of the 150 fly families visit flowers. Flies are particularly important pollinators in places there are fewer bees, such as alpine or arctic habitats.
No bigger than the size of pinheads, midges are often the only creatures that can work their way into some of the tiniest flowers in order to pollinate. They are most active in this way at dusk and at dawn.
Mosquitoes are best known for feeding on blood, but those are only the female mosquitoes. And, this only happens when she has eggs to lay. The mosquito’s favourite food is actually nectar. Any time an insect drinks nectar, there is a good chance it is going to collect pollen.
Most beetles that visit flowers do not sip nectar. Beetles often chew and consume parts of the plant they pollinate and leave their droppings behind. For this reason, beetles are referred to as mess-and-soil pollinators.
Pollination by ants is not as common because most pollinators can fly, enabling them to distribute pollen grains over a wider area. This type of pollination promotes genetic diversity across the plants they visit. Since ants walk from flower to flower, their pollen exchange is limited to a small number of plants.
Kim Mackenzy Andrews
Kim is a children’s author, nature writer, photographer and artist. Kim is a patch reporter for the BBC wildlife magazine. Find her nature books for children at KimMackenzyAndrews.com
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