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BONNIE"S GARDEN--The "Other" Pollinators

The first week in May is National Pollinator Week.  In honor of that, I thought I’d write about some of the other insects that pollinate flowers.  Honeybees and butterflies seem to get all the press but there are other important pollinators out there.

Flies.  Yep, the pesky little things that attend our barbecues and picnics are also fairly efficient pollinators.  They’re particularly important in climates that are not bee-friendly—arctic and alpine habitats, for example.  Hoverflies are particularly beneficial.  Not only are the adults pollinators, but their larvae have a voracious appetite for aphids.  Flowers that attract hoverflies are oregano, sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons, lemon balms, mints, feverfew and lavender, among others.  Interesting side note:  A tiny little fly called a midge is responsible for pollinating the flowers of the cacao tree—no fly; no chocolate!

Moths.  We tend to think of butterflies, but forget the other lepidopteras like moths.  Most moths are nocturnal but are doing more than just fluttering around our porch lights.  They do tend to prefer white or light colored flowers since these show up best after dark.

Bumblebees.  Bumblebees are good pollinators.  They live in small colonies composed of a queen and her daughters.  At summer’s end, they die, leaving only the mated queen.  While they can sting, they almost never bother humans or animals.

Carpenter bees.  We consider them pests yet they are very good pollinators.   The males, which are the ones you see hovering in mid-air, are stingless and, while females can sting, they are fairly docile and rarely do.  They seldom do real damage to wood, only boring a small hole in which to lay eggs.  You can discourage them from boring in your wood siding by spraying the area with a citrus oil spray.  You can also find “bee houses” which are made of wood with little holes all over, giving them an alternative place to live

This is by no means a complete list.  Some flowers are pollinated by small bats; others by hummingbirds (in the Americas) or sunbirds (Africa, Asia, Australia), ants, even wasps (as a matter of fact, wild figs are pollinated by the fig wasp).  Yet others are pollinated by beetles. 

Maybe, when I see an insect on a flower, I should check to see if there is any damage before I automatically assume the worst and reach for a pesticide.
Posted: 5/2/2016 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: Bonnie's, Garden, pollinators
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